This is a recipe from Jaques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way.

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of pressure cooking for some time now, but have been unwilling to spend the money on one until I’d tried some recipes.  Recently, a friend loaned us her pressure cooker, and tonight, I finally got to take it for a spin.  If you’ve ever used one, then you won’t be surprised to hear me say that I was amazed at the results this thing can produce in so short a time.  To get these kinds of results using traditional methods like braising or roasting would require hours, but tonight, in 30 minutes, we had fork tender meat that was falling off of the bone, and deeply flavored.

Ingredients

2 lbs beef short ribs – the meatiest and most lean you can find

1 lb small yukon gold or red potatoes

8 dried shiitake mushrooms, stem removed, caps broken in half

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, peeled

2 sprigs of fresh tyme

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 tsp tomato paste

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup water

This recipe begins by searing the ribs in oil over high heat right in the cooker until they have a rich brown crust on the outside.  Due to the size of the pan, we had to do this in two batches, and while it would have been quicker to do this in a larger, separate pan, it’s essential do do this in the cooker.  The juices from the meat brown on the bottom of the pan, creating what the cooking world calls fond, which is full of complex and savory flavors brought about by a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction.

Once the meat has been seared, pour out most of the fat, and return the pan to medium heat.  Here, I modified the recipe by adding the tomato paste and cooking it for a minute to develop more fond.  Tomatoes, when cooked (also through the Maillard reaction), release flavor compounds called glutamates, which contribute more deep, savory notes.

Next, pour in the wine and water, then stir and scrape away at the fond to dissolve it into the liquid.  Add the remaining ingredients, then top with the ribs and potatoes.  Cook according to the pressure cooker’s instructions for 30 minutes.  At this point, I modified the recipe further by removing the cooked food to a dish in a warm oven, and boiling the liquid until it had reduced and thickened slightly.

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