The Pressure Cooker, Reimagined: Recipes

Introducing Chef Michael Cutney of The Twisted Oak and his electric pressure cooker, plus four recipes for you.



We had a pressure cooker in my home when I was growing up. It was annoying. It weighed half a ton and had a complicated, heavy lid that clamped down onto the bottom in a fussy way. It was a space hog, but, worse—on the rare times that it was deployed—its vent emanated a near-constant, tinkly hiss. Eventually, our pressure cooker migrated to a forgotten shelf in the basement where it was not missed—not even once.

The technology of pressure cookers has been with us since the 17th century, but their presence in civilian kitchens is a relatively new phenomenon. Two manufacturers debuted home pressure cookers at the 1939 World’s Fair, both promoting the device’s futuristic attributes of speed and safety. Because of tight-fitting lids, the heat inside these new pressure cookers was augmented by up to 15 PSI of pressure; this safely raised the temperature of boiling water to 250°F, well above its unpressurized boiling point of 212°F. Not only did higher temperatures cook food faster, but they also reduced the risk of contamination in home canning. The modern technology of pressure-cooking found its way into all sorts of foods—most notably, the fried chicken recipe invented by Harland “Colonel” Sanders. 

But pressure cookers didn't go the way of cloche hats and the Brooklyn Dodgers; they are still beloved by some chefs for their speedy and even cooking. We asked Chef Michael Cutney of Tarrytown’s new Twisted Oak to show us what he does with his own Cuisinart electric pressure cooker, a high-tech, plug-in version of your grandmother’s stovetop contraption. Chef Cutney’s cooker, which he’s owned for eight years, offers multiple heat settings, both with and without pressure, and also offers the choice of instant or slow pressure release. 

“I use that machine for all kinds of things—oh, my God, it’s awesome! I make stocks with it, I make lots of stuff with it.” He adds, “The whole thing about cooking is trying to make recipes idiot-proof; to simplify things in a way that you can maximize flavors. I hate to say this, but it’s hard to find really good labor. When you have stuff like this pressure cooker —which isn’t even expensive—it helps.” 

Baby Beet Salad with Ronnybrook Farm Yogurt 

Serves 8 to 10

Place beets on rack with water in the cooking pot of the pressure cooker. Cover and lock lid into place. Select “high pressure” and set timer for 25 minutes. When beep sounds, release the pressure. When the float valve drops, remove lid carefully, tilting away from you to allow steam to disperse. Test beets with a tip of a paring knife. If knife does not pierce beet easily, select “simmer” and cook until beets are done. Once beets are done, remove and reserve until cool. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut in half and place in a large mixing bowl with sliced onions. In a bowl, place garlic, shallot, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Distribute the dressing evenly among the beets, and allow it to rest for up to two hours. In a wooden bowl, add the Ronnybrook Farm Dairy yogurt, then, using a slotted spoon, decoratively arrange your beets. Finish with basil, mint, micro beet tops, and serve.

  • 3 baby beets (1 each gold, red, candy cane) scrubbed clean, ends trimmed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium-large Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 8 ounces), thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup medium packed mint, sliced into a chiffonade 
  • ¼ cup medium packed basil, sliced into a chiffonade
  • ¼ cup micro beet tops (Bull's Blood)
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 small shallot (½ oz), peeled
  • 3 Tbsp Champagne vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
  • ½ tsp honey
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup mild-flavored extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 oz Ronnybrook Farm Dairy yogurt

Place beets on rack with water in the cooking pot of the pressure cooker. Cover and lock lid into place. Select “high pressure” and set timer for 25 minutes. When beep sounds, release the pressure. When the float valve drops, remove lid carefully, tilting away from you to allow steam to disperse. Test beets with a tip of a paring knife. If knife does not pierce beet easily, select “simmer” and cook until beets are done. Once beets are done, remove and reserve until cool. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel and cut in half and place in a large mixing bowl with sliced onions. In a bowl, place garlic, shallot, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Distribute the dressing evenly among the beets, and allow it to rest for up to two hours. In a wooden bowl, add the Ronnybrook Farm Dairy yogurt, then, using a slotted spoon, decoratively arrange your beets. Finish with basil, mint, micro beet tops, and serve.

Rabbit Ragu Garganelle

Serves 8

  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs boneless rabbit (approximately 1 whole rabbit)
  • 1½ cups chopped red onion
  • ¾ cup finely chopped carrot
  • ¹⁄₃ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped 
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped 
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs fresh garganelle

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pressure-cooker pot. Select “browning” and let oil heat for 3 to 4 minutes. When oil is hot, sear the rabbit in 4 batches until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. For best results, move the meat as little as possible while browning. When the meat is browned on all sides, remove it to a bowl. Select “sauté” on your pressure cooker. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sage, and rosemary to the cooking pot. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the herbs are aromatic. Stir in wine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by about half. Add rabbit stock (next page), bay leaf, and salt to the cooking pot and stir. Return the rabbit and any accumulated juices to the cooking pot. Turn off. Cover and lock lid in place. Select “high pressure” and set timer for 20 minutes. When an audible beep sounds, release the pressure. When float valve drops, remove lid, tilting away from you to allow steam to disperse. Stir. Allow rabbit to cool in the ragu. Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water for the garganelle over high heat. When the rabbit is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones, discard the bay leaf, and return the pulled rabbit to the pressure cooker set to “simmer.” Stir in a dab of butter, and finish with parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. When the water boils, cook pasta until al dente, toss with ragu, and serve.

Fortified Rabbit Stock

Yields about 10 cups

  • 2 lbs rabbit bones and trimmings 
  • 2 medium onions, peeled  and quartered
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, washed 
  • 2 parsnips, peeled, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 10 cups chicken stock

Rinse rabbit and drain. Place in the pressure cooker along with the onions, celery, carrots, leeks, parsnips, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley, and thyme. Add water. Select “high pressure” and set timer for 45 minutes. When audible beep sounds, release pressure. When the float valve drops, turn off. Remove lid carefully, tilting away from you to allow steam to disperse. Strain, discarding the bones, meat, skin, vegetables, and herbs. Pass stock through a fine mesh strainer to remove small bits. Cover and refrigerate. When chilled and congealed, remove fat and discard or reserve for another use. Rabbit stock will keep for three days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for up to six months. 

For brown rabbit stock: Brown stock requires the extra step of roasting, but adds depth of flavor. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place rabbit bones in a roasting pan. Roast in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned. Add vegetables, stir, and roast for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are browned. Turn contents of pan into pressure cooker, add water, and cook according to directions on the previous page.

Braised Lamb Shoulder with Artichokes and Arugula

Serves 4

  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 pieces lamb shoulder, about ¾ pound each (no more than 7 inches long)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ¾ cup diced (¼-inch) carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary, freshly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sage, freshly chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 9 oz baby artichokes, cleaned and trimmed
  • 2 cups baby arugula, cleaned and trimmed
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Dust lamb shoulder with seasoned flour. Add olive oil to cooking pot of the pressure cooker. Select “browning.” When oil is hot, add 2 pieces of the lamb shoulder and brown evenly on all sides, about 5 to 10 minutes total. Remove to a platter and repeat with the remaining 2 pieces. Select “sauté.” Add onions, carrots, garlic, and herbs to the cooking pot. 

Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onions become translucent. Stir in tomatoes, wine, stock, and bay leaf. Return the lamb shoulder to the pressure cooker along with any accumulated juices, spooning some of the liquid and vegetable mixture over the shoulder. Cover and lock lid in place. Select “high pressure” and set timer for 24 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°F. When audible beep sounds, set 10 minutes “natural pressure release,” then use “quick pressure release” to release remaining pressure. Remove lid carefully, tilting away from you to allow steam to disperse. Remove lamb shoulder to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil, then place in the preheated oven to keep warm. Add artichokes to pressure cooker. Select “simmer” and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Carefully take out the artichokes with a slotted spoon and toss with arugula and extra virgin olive oil. Spoon sauce over lamb shoulder, top with arugula and artichokes, and serve over creamy polenta. 

 

 

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