Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pressure Cooker Pork Chili Verde

My pressure cooker is seriously underutilized, a handy, timesaving device that stores out of sight and evidently out of mind. It proved its usefulness again recently when I wanted a quick, tasty bowl of chili in under an hour, not several hours from now. Too many of my chili recipes call for browning the meat, then cooking slowly for 2 to 3 hours on the stovetop (or 6 to 8 hours in a slow cooker). Not so this pressure cooker version; after browning the meat, it took just 20 minutes under high pressure to develop both taste and texture. 

RL noted the chili heat needed taming on day one, and unusual response from him, but the bite had mellowed significantly by day two. It took a few tablespoons of sour cream to tame the chile bite for me on both days, but I am an admitted chili heat wimp.

A recipe for Abilene Beef and Bean Chili from a Rick Rodgers cookbook, Pressure Cooking for Everyone, provided guidance as I changed up the ingredients. I substituted pork shoulder for the specified beef bottom round, used 2 Hatch chiles instead of 1 jalapeno and a single tablespoon of Penzeys' awesome Chili 3000 blend rather than 2 tablespoons of anyone else's chili powder, then added tomatillos and fresh orange quarters for a hint more flavor.

The results? Mmmm, that was some tasty peppy chili. The Rogers cookbook is noted for requiring multiple steps, pre-browning or adding ingredients requiring additional after-pressure cooking, but if this chili is any guide then a few extra steps are worth it. Now it's time to try a few more quick pressure cooker recipes. 


Pressure Cooker Peppy Pork Chili Verde

Adapted from Pressure Cooking for Everyone by Rick Rodgers

2 TBS olive oil, divided (more as needed)
2 LBS pork shoulder, cut into 2” chunks
3 cups yellow onion, chopped (roughly 1 large yellow onion)
1 cup sweet bell peppers (not green), seeded & chopped
6 large tomatillos, quartered
2 Hatch chiles, roasted, skinned, deseeded, chopped (or 1 jalapeno)
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS Penzeys 3000 chili mix (or ½ TBS ancho chili powder plus 1 tsp each cumin, smoky paprika, dried Mexican oregano, cilantro and lemon peel)
½ tsp salt, more according to taste
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 orange, unpeeled and quartered (or 4 mini oranges, halved)
¼ cup masa or yellow cornmeal
2 cans (15-oz each) black beans, rinsed & drained

Suggested optional toppings: fresh tomatilla salsa, sour cream, lime wedges, tortilla chips, fresh cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, red onion, avocado…

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat and brown the pork chunks in several batches. Don’t crowd the meat or it will stew instead of searing. Remove to a plate and set aside. Add more oil as needed for subsequent batches.

Discard the excess fat, but leave the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Heat the remaining tablespoon oil and add the onion, peppers, tomatillos, chiles, and garlic. Cook to soften, stirring often.

Return the pork to the pot along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Sprinkle with the spices and salt; stir and toss to mix well. Add in the stock; stir and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Add the oranges.

Cover, lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain high pressure and cook for 20 minutes (I used a flame tamer under the pot on my electric element). Do a quick-release, open the lid and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the orange halves; skim excess fat.

Note: I often use some bone-in pieces and pull the meat out at this point to debone, defat and shred.

Use a small bowl and make a masa slurry, whisking the masa into a generous cup of the cooking liquid. Stir this slurry into the pot and add the beans. Cook over medium heat until the juices thicken a bit; stir frequently to prevent scorching the bottom of the pot. Return the meat chunks or shreds to the cooker; taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve in bowls with optional toppings alongside, or use to fill tortillas.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Thai-Style Chicken Soup

Chicken soup comforts both body and soul. So it is no surprise that many cultures around the world have their own version; unique with the varying preparations, ingredients and seasonings to account for the world of difference. In my kitchen you'll often find one of these chicken soup recipes simmering away on the stove:

Avgolemono - Greek Lemon Soup

Green Posole with Chicken

Coconut Green Curry Soup

plus an Indian-style Chicken Coconut Curry Soup, and our all-time favorite Mexican Chicken Taco Soup (I can't believe I haven't posted a recipe for this one yet). This month's interest in ginger nudged me toward a Thai-style version of chicken soup with coconut milk. This chicken soup was fast, flavorful and carried enough of a "zip" from the Tom Yum  sauce to keep RL smiling. 

My fridge and freezer usually hold a few containers of cooked chicken, left after roasting a whole bird, pulled from a purchased deli chicken or after I precook a batch of chicken thighs. Chicken soups and chicken enchiladas benefit from this versatile ready-to-use ingredient. 

What's your favorite use of already cooked chicken?  

Thai-Style Chicken Soup
yields 4 servings

2 fat cloves garlic, peeled & minced
2-inch piece ginger root, peeled & minced or shredded
2 TBS canola oil
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp Tom Yum sauce or a Thai curry paste (adjust for your level of spicy heat)
1 TBS Thai fish sauce 
1 TBS Gourmet Garden Thai seasoning paste (or 1 tsp each dried cilantro & basil)
1 small onion, peeled & chopped
1 cup red pepper, cored & chopped
1 fat carrot, peeled & sliced thin into rounds
2 ribs celery, strings discarded and stalks chopped
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 can (15-oz) low-sodium chicken broth 
1 can (15-oz) coconut milk (NOT coconut cream!)
2 to 3 heads baby bok choy, cleaned & chopped
salt and pepper to taste
lime wedges for serving

Use a wide-bladed knife or bench scraper to mash the garlic and ginger together into a paste. Heat the canola oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot and saute the ginger-garlic mash for a minute or two until aromatic. 

Stir in the brown sugar, Tom Yum sauce, fish sauce and Thai seasoning paste.

Add the chopped onions, red pepper, carrot & celery. Stir to coat and saute for another minute. Add the chicken and stir some more to coat.

Add the chicken broth and coconut milk and bring to a barely bubbling simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add the baby bok choy and cook for a minute or two until just tender. Ladle into bowls and enjoy at once.

1. Offer lime or lemon wedges to add a citrus pop to each bowl.
2. For hungry appetites, offer a small bowl of rice alongside. The solids are always finished first and the remaining soup liquid works well as a sauce for the rice.   

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