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Under Pressure - 4/19/16

April 19,2016 - Radio Kitchen - Under Pressure                    

The best cooking short cuts are the ones that not only save us time, but improve the flavor of our food.  One such handy technique is one that may be a little under-utilized; and that would be pressure cooking. Although he hates to confess to it,  Chef Jerry Pellegrino came to pressure cooking only recently.  And it has blown his mind.

According to Jerry (who is ordinarily a slow-cooking advocate) the speed of pressure cooking in unbelievable.  Meat that took hours to braise, now cooks in minutes.  And the flavor is more intense.

Gone are the days with pressure cookers coming with warnings that recalled the handling of hand grenades.  Today's models are ultra-safe, easy to use, and usefully high-tech.  You can expect to spend from $80 to upwards of $100 on a good one.

Here are some recipes from Schola Cooking School that capture the ease and effectiveness of pressure cooking.

                        Healthy Eating Series – Pressure Cooker Meals

                                    Chefs Amy von Lange & Jerry Pellegrino


                                       Chicken & Chickpea Masala


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 or 2 dried chilies (optional, but we prefer to use the small red chilies to add some heat. As an alternative you can use one fresh green chili, seeds and stem removed and chopped fine.)
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 1 lemon, zest & juice
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 pounds chicken drumsticks and thighs (4 to 6 of each)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
  • ¼ cup low fat yogurt

  1. Heat olive oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high until it just starts to smoke.
  2. Add onions, garlic, ginger and dried chilies. Cook, stirring frequently, until pale brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garammasala, paprika and turmeric and cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add crushed tomatoes and spinach. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the cilantro, chicken stock, and chicken pieces. Stir to combine. Seal pressure cooker and heat to high pressure. Once high pressure is reached, cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to cool, release pressure and remove the lid.
  7. Add the yogurt, drained chickpeas, lemon juice and zest, and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened.
  8. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately.

                                                Pressure Cooker Texas Chili


  • 3 – 4 dried hot chilies
  • 4 large dried Chipotle chilies, soaked in 2 cups hot water until soft
  • 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 4 pounds boneless beef short rib, cut into 4 equal size steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dark chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped onions, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese for serving
  1. Once the chipotles are soft, remove from the water and reserve it. Pull off the stems and chop the peppers into ¼ inch dice.
  2. Season the short rib generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat oil in the pressure cooker set over medium high heat. One at a time, cook the short rib without moving until deeply browned. Flip and brown the other side.
  4. Repeat with the three other short ribs. When all the meat has been browned, cut it into 1 inch cubes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the pressure cooker.
  5. Allow the onions to cook until translucent. As they sweat of moisture, use that to scrap all of the brown meats particles left off of the bottom of the pressure cooker.
  6. Add the garlic, hot chilies, jalapeno and the chopped chipotles. Cook and additional 3 minutes. Add all the dried spices. Cook one more minute.
  7. Add the cubed meat, chicken stock and reserved water from the chipotles. Seal the pressure cooker, and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
  8. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We like to thicken the chili with a little roux but some people like it a little thinner.
  9. Check the seasoning and adjust using salt and hot sauce. Serve over rice or cornbread with all the garnishes.

                                               Mushroom Risotto


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried porcini powder
  • 1 ½ pounds mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, and cremini trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups risotto rice, such as Arborio or Vialone Nano
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Heat olive oil in the base of a pressure cooker over medium high heat until just smoking.
  2. Add onion and garlic stirring frequently, until onions are translucent.
  3. Add fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until excess moisture is evaporated and mushrooms are well browned, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until rice is evenly coated in oil and toasted but not browned, 3-4 minutes. 
  5. Add wine and porcini powder and cook, stirring until most of the wine has evaporated. Pour stock into the pot.
  6. Scrape any grains of rice or pieces of onion from side of pressure cooker so that they are fully submerged. Close pressure cooker and allow to pressurize.
  7. Once fully pressurized, cook for 7 minutes. Release the pressure from the cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Remove the lid, stir in the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.

                                                Pressure Cooker Sweet Pork


  • ¼ cup Canola or Olive oil
  • 4 lb. Pork Butt Roast, bone-in
  • ½ cup Wonder Flour (or other whole-grain flour)
  • 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups honey
  • 10-oz. can red chili sauce (we like to use Heinz)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  1. Heat olive oil in the base of a pressure cooker over medium high heat until just smoking.
  2. Dredge pork roast in flour and place in pressure cooker, browning on all sides. Add Worcestershire sauce, honey, chili sauce, salt, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder.
  3. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and aloe to fully pressurize. Cook on high pressure for 40 minutes.
  4. Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the lid. 
  5. Remove the roast, discard the fat, and shred the meat. While you are shredding the meat, place the pressure cooker back over medium heat and allow the sauce to thicken.
  6. Pour as much of the sauce as necessary to coat the pork. Serve immediately over rice or in tortillas.  
Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.