Monday, February 27, 2017

Marinara Sauce in the Pressure Cooker

Mmmmm.... add a bit of cheese. Put in oven to lovingly melt .... Dip in bread.

I recently bought a ten-dollar jar of RAO Marinara sauce. It was worth it! I'm not a big fan of tomato-based sauces. For my palate, most are very acidic and "tinny." RAO was mild with lots of other flavors going on. It was great. But, at ten bucks a pop ...  that's a lot of tomatoe$.

Making a tomato-sauce can be messy. It usually simmers and bubbles for hours .... and all over your stove! So I got out my Instant Pot pressure cooker to see what I could conjure up. The result was delicious. The flavor ... wonderfully robust, not acidic, with a hearty chunky texture. And I could taste all that I had added: basil, Italian spices, onion, garlic.

It was better than RAO's

I used CERTO tomatoes for the whole and crushed. I probably added a bit more than the full cup of onions and maybe a bit more garlic. The brown sugar augments the acidity of the tomatoes and results in a beautiful, deep mahogany-colored sauce. Use a reputable and fresh blend of dried Italian spices. 

I doubt I go back to simmering and stirring a sauce for hours on end that spits up on my stove ....
  • 1, 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, broken up, CERTO brand
  • 1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, CERTO brand
  • 1, 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, TUTTAROSSA brand
  • 1/2 cup grated yellow onion including the juice
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion including juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons dried Italian seasonings (start with one tablespoon)
  • 10 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 2/3 ounce (19 g) fresh basil leaves (2-3 stalks)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided

Add two tablespoons butter to Instant Pot. Place setting on saute, medium heat. When butter has melted add the onions and saute just until they begin to sweat down and begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant. Add all the tomatoes, brown sugar, dried Italian seasonings, basil. Bring to a simmer. Add remaining two tablespoons butter. Taste for seasonings.

Turn off saute mode. Place lid on lock and push vent to seal. Pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. Allow to release naturally. Remove lid and taste for seasonings. Add whatever more you think you need. Replace lid and pressure cook on high for another 10 minutes.

If you prefer a smooth sauce, use an immersion blender to break it up.

This is a great base. Next time I may add a bit of pork, such as some pork ribs, a small pig's foot,  or some Italian sausages. A handful of fresh chopped oregano ...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ham with Green Beans, Potatoes and Tomatoes in the Pressure Cooker

I really enjoyed this recipe. It had super flavor. And color. And texture. Not too much prep. It's the kind of dish you keep going back for "just a wee bit more." This is somewhere between a soup and a stew, but it is definitely comfort food at its best. And, in the pressure cooker, only five to six minutes to cook.

One could use canned tomatoes. But fresh, sweet grape tomatoes are now such an affordable staple in grocery stores year-round, why bother?

Try not to use a powdered bouillon since they are mostly salt and chemicals. I use "Better Than Bouillon" whose first listed ingredient is actually ham! As an option, you may also add 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup.

I used what my grocery store calls "Pee-Wee" potatoes, all about one to one-and-one-half inch in diameter.

Do not omit the smoked paprika. 

  • 1, 1.5-pound ham steak with bone, sliced on the bias into pieces
  • 1, 9-ounce package cherry tomatoes (12-15)
  • 20-ounces fresh string beans, some cut in half, some left whole
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 3 cups unpeeled fingerling baby potatoes
  • 1 10.5-can chicken broth
  • 1/2 can cream of mushroom soup (optional)
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon ham base
  • 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • pepper
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stem (optional)

Place Instant Pot on saute mode, medium setting. Add a bit of olive oil and butter. When melted, add onions and ham, ham bone, and sweat for several minutes. Add fresh thyme and garlic. Stir just until fragrant.

Add the chicken stock, one teaspoon bouillon, cream of mushroom soup (if using,) some fresh pepper and one teaspoon smoked paprika. Bring to simmer and taste for seasonings. If needed, add remaining teaspoon of the smoked paprika and bouillon. Add the fresh beans, potatoes and tomatoes.

Turn off saute mode. Secure lid. Turn vent to seal position. Pressure cook on high for 5-6 minutes. Allow to vent naturally.

Remove lid. Stir. If desired, pull out ham, potatoes and beans and place separately on a serving platter with the sauce. Or simply plate up. Serve with a bit of sour cream.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Creamy Rice with Cheese and Italian Sausage (Instant Pot Pressure Cooker)

Rich. Decadent. Bursting with flavor. And so easy!

Use as a main meal with a side of salad and broccoli. Or use as a side with beef or chicken. Either way, this recipe is a win-win. It's even good, cold!

Because it's under pressure, cut the veggies a bit larger than you would normally. I have found the saute mode on the Instant Pot to be a bit on the hot side. To brown the sausage, keep it moving so it does not scorch. Sometimes I simply lift the liner out for a bit so it does not get too hot.

  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage (I use medium, not sweet)
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped (not diced)
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped (not diced)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1, 8-ounce package sliced white mushrooms
  • 1, 2.25-ounce can sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
  • 1, 10-ounce can Rotel Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Chilies
  • 1, 14.5 can reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1, 16-ounce brick Velveeta Original Cheese
  • 1.5 cups raw, long grained rice (I use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Place Instant Pot on saute mode. Add a bit of butter and olive and saute green pepper, yellow onion and mushrooms just until they begin to turn a bit soft. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Last, add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove mixture to a plate.

Add a bit of olive oil to the IP and add sausage. Cook until no longer pink and it is crumbly. Keep the sausage moving so it does not scorch. Add the rice and stir for about one minute. If mixture is too dry, add a bit more olive oil.

Add the vegetable mixture. Stir. Add the chicken broth, Rotel tomatoes and smoked paprika. Stir. Taste for seasonings. Mix in the black olives. Allow to come to a simmer.

Shut off saute mode. Lock lid into place. Put vent on sealing. Cook on high pressure for five minutes.

When finished, allow to sit in pot for about ten minutes.

Vent the pot. Remove lid. Begin adding chunks of Velveeta stirring as you go until it melts. I use the entire brick, but you don't have to.