Believe it or not, I am still somewhat a n00b when it comes to preparing hunks of beast. I’ve only been cooking meat for about 6 or 7 years, and although I can really do some damage with slow-cooking in dry heat (I mean, who can’t put a big chunk of meat in a 200 degree oven for 4 hours?), wet heat always fucks me up. It always hits a boil and turns to leather. Enter the pressure cooker: it’s going to boil anyways, so why not let 15 pounds psi pulverize that connective tissue until it’s butter?
The thing is, I only have a giant 23-qt pressure cooker that I bought for canning. It’s a beast (the other kind), and I’ve used it for cooking only a couple of times – giant vats of beans in most cases – and it’s a real bitch to get clean after that. This one’s just not meant for everyday household use. So I came up with this neat trick that allows me to cook a 2 person-sized dinner in an army-sized pressure cooker. I make a sort of double-boiler by filling the large crock with a few inches of water, into which I insert a smaller pot that contains dinner. Works a dream.
So the rundown: I hit a 2lb chuck roast with a bunch of freshly-ground pepper and kosher salt, then browned it on all sides. Remove the roast, add two cups of mirepoix (1 part onion to half parts celery and carrot) and a bay leaf and thyme, saute until the veg is browned and the moisture from it deglazes the pot. I didn’t have any beef stock so I added some homemade chicken stock (brown, from last week’s roasted chicken) with a spoonful of beef bouillon paste, a glug of red wine, and a few squirts of Worcestershire sauce (I added enough to cover the roast). Put the whole shebang into the pressure cooker and let the flame rip. Once it hit my desired pressure (between 10 and 15 psi is my safety zone), I turned down the heat to around medium-low to keep it there. After an hour, I turned off the burner and got the side dishes ready while the pressure cooker wound itself down.
Simple sides are best for pot roast, and mine were boiled new potatoes and some mustard-glazed carrots and Brussels sprouts (glaze: spoonful of stout mustard, a few pinches of mustard seed, a scant spoonful of sugar and a knob of butter, add a splash of water to combine everything then let it reduce back down). When the pressure cooker simmered down enough to remove the lid without garnering third-degree steam burns, I pulled out the pot of roast and strained the jus into a hot pan to reduce. I whisked in a flour slurry and let it simmer into a rich gravy.