Oct 3, 2014

There's a First Time for Everything- Pressure Cooker Short Ribs

Autumn is certainly my favorite season. I love the cozy clothes, the changing leaves, the smell of Pumpkin Spice Everything in the air. And, last but certainly not least, the food. There's a crisp in the air and that means it's time to for us to fire up our ovens without fear of melting along with the food. Fall is all about comfort food. Bring on the roasts, I say! 

We all know "low and slow" is the way to go, but sometimes, you just don't have time to let something cook for 6 hours in the oven. You know I don't! (Sorry I haven't written in two weeks...blogger fail) So, what's a girl to do when she's craving a slow-roasted dinner, but she doesn't have all day?

Bring out that pressure cooker!

Now, I'll admit, prior to this little experiment, I was scared of the pressure cooker. I'd heard too many horror stories about how they could explode! I mean, no one wants their dinner ruined and a black eye caused by a flying lid. So, even though my Mawmaw gave me one of her old pressure cookers last year, I still hadn't used it...until last week when an uncontrollable craving for slow roasted meat hit me in the middle of the day. But, I was at work. If I was going to have the roast of my dreams, it should already be in the oven right this minute! And, then after a moment of supreme disappointment, I remembered the pressure cooker. Heck yes.

So, I popped by Whole Foods on the way home, picked up the necessary ingredients, and faced the dreaded pressure cooker.

First of all, I followed a recipe that I found on Martha Stewart for Beef Short Ribs. It was a good starting point, but as you'll see farther into this post, it needs some tweaks for the next time around. Not only was this my first time using the pressure cooker, but it was also my first time cooking short ribs. Double whammy!

The first step, as with most slow-roasted dishes, is to brown that meat. But, even before that step, the first thing I had to do was roll them in a little seasoned flour.

Then, it's time to brown them in a little delicious butter.

This might take a little longer than you expect, but you'll want to make sure that each side is brown, because, as Chef Anne Burrell says, "Brown food tastes good!" 

Once your short ribs are good and browned, pulled them out of the pot and set them aside while you add in your onions, thyme, and garlic. Now, it's smelling good in here!

Cook the onions down until they're tender and golden. And, then, the best part of cooking, pour in the red wine, add the short ribs back into the pot, and bring everything up to a simmer. Oh, and while you're at it, pour yourself a glass too

This is also where I'll do things a little differently next time. Next time, I'll basically double the amount of liquid I pour into the pot by adding an additional 3/4 cup beef broth. You'll see why in just a few pictures. Everything up to this point was pretty normal, but now was the time to really put the pressure on. (You see what I did there?!?) After fiddling with the lid for a minute or two or five, I finally sealed it. And, then there was nothing left to do but wait...

Five minutes in and I started to hear a little hissing. Ten minutes in and that hissing was getting even louder. Did I just hear a little jiggle??? You know it! By fifteen minutes, I was in business! There was no going back now!

While the short ribs were cooking away for the next 45 minutes, I started working on my sides: roasted brussel sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes. 

1) Brussel sprouts are my favorite vegetable. Seriously.

2) Let's talk about these sweet potatoes:

I picked those sweet potatoes from the ground! All by myself! Well, actually, I volunteered to help with a harvest at the preServe Garden with a really great organization called Slow Food. Slow Food's mission is "to create dramatic and lasting change in our local food system to ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat." Pretty great, right? Did you know that sweet potatoes grow in bunches underground, and the best way to harvest them is to basically do a little archeology dig? You brush the dirt from around them and then gently pull up a whole bunch. It was so fun! I also helped harvest some peppers, chard, and basil that day. It was very, very fun! 

So, anyway, I roasted those brussel sprouts with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Meanwhile, I boiled those sweet sweet potatoes and mashed them with some ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, and a little brown sugar. And, at this point, the short ribs were done. I'd taken them off of the heat, and let the pot rest for fifteen minutes, so that it would be safe to take off the lid. And, now it was time for the big reveal...

Damnit.

Damnit all.

Well, those onions were burnt to a crisp, and the red wine sauce was none existent. But, those short ribs still look pretty appetizing...

Luckily, I'm no stranger to flubs in the kitcken (remember that time G. Ramsay told me my food was like a mouthful of sand? Ugh. Me too.) so it was time to improvise. I removed the short ribs from the burnt mess, seasoned them, and got to work on a quick red wine reduction. And, in just ten more minutes, it was time to eat a pretty beautiful dinner.

Y'all. Those short ribs. They were fall off the bone good and in just a quarter of the time it usually takes to make them. Paired with the sweetness of the mash, and the roasted veggies, and with a little tangy sauce, that was a hell of a dinner. 

So, cheers to Autumn and cheers to the pressure cooker, my new friend!