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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Cooking Under Pressure

For years, I'd read  and heard about using a pressure cooker to can foods and speed  up the cooking process but had always been afraid to  try it myself.  I had visions of  explosions of green beans and  beef stew splattering the ceilings and  blowing out the  kitchen windows! I had a water bath canner for making pickles and jams and for canning tomatoes and saw no need for a dangerous  pressure canner with its dire warnings about seals and gaskets, valves and pressure settings. One Christmas, Mr. G  even bought me a lovely All American pressure canner with dials and valves but  no intimidating gasket, with the idea that I  could can  green beans and other veggies from the  garden and farmer's market and  put up  jars of chicken stock. I was unconvinced.  That canner has   been sitting, unused,  in its box on a shelf in the basement for several years now.

But then a  year or so ago, I read about  electric pressure cookers, and for some reason, they, with their friendly  digital displays and blinking lights, didn't scare me as much.  So  I bought one, and , with instruction/recipe booklet in hand,  made  one of the  tenderest,  most delicious beef pot roasts we have ever eaten! And in  less than an hour, from start to finish, WITHOUT blowing up the house!. I was hooked! Since then I've cooked soups, stews, chowders,  short ribs, pork chops, chicken with dumplings and many other dishes and have plans  to try out  many other recipes, including cheesecakes and other desserts.

My latest "meal under pressure"  was Sausages with Onions and Peppers, adapted from the Cuisinart  recipe booklet that came with the cooker. This calls for the following ingredients for  4 servings:
 4-6 oz.  Bucatini Pasta or other pasta, cooked according to  directions on package.
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1-19 oz. package of Italian sausages,  each cut into three sections (I used Johnsonville Mild  Italian sausages)
2  small to medium green bell peppers and 1 red bell pepper, seeded and  sliced into rings.
 1 large sweet onion,  cut into vertical slices
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 Tbsp Italian herb blend
1/2 cup  organic chicken broth or stock
salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions on package.

Add olive oil to cooking pot of pressure cooker. Select browning and when  oil is hot, add sausages, being careful not to overcrowd.  If necessary, cook sausages in batches and remove to a plate as each batch is browned. Cook until brown on all sides, about 3-5 minutes.

Add peppers, onions, garlic and Italian seasoning  to pot and stir for 2-3 minutes.

 Stir in chicken stock and cook for   one minute. Return the sausages and any accumulated juices back to the pot and stir gently to mix  in with the other ingredients.

 Cover with the lid and lock the lid in place.  Cook at high pressure for 4 minutes.

 Use  quick pressure release to release pressure and remove lid carefully, allowing steam to disperse.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm with lid off until ready to serve.

Serve over  pasta.  Enjoy!

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