Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

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I’ve recently added wheat berries to my diet! Pretty exciting stuff. You can find them relatively easily in Whole Foods or another health market, and even though you can easily spend $200 in a health food store, wheat berries are pretty affordable. Here’s some stuff to know if you want to add them to your life:

Hard wheat berries, also labeled hard red wheat, are the most nutritious. They are chewier than the soft variety, but not too chewy (if you ask me). They also take the longest to cook, and often call for soaking, but it’s no big deal in a pressure cooker.

Soft wheat berries, sometimes labeled soft or pearled white wheat, are lightly processed for easier cooking and eating. They are more tender and take less time to cook.

To cook wheat berries: Add 1 cup of rinsed and drained wheat berries, 4 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a glug of oil to an electric pressure. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes (for soft berries) or 40 minutes (for hard berries) and use a natural release. Drain.

Serve as a grain in soups, salads, or other savory dishes. Make a breakfast bowl with yogurt and fruit. It’s all goooood.

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Pressure Cooking Wheat Berries

Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts

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I recently received the newest Instant Pot model, the Ultra, thanks to the kind people at Instant Pot HQ. Note that I did not receive it in exchange for a review or any other coverage, I just thought I’d share my thoughts about the Ultra for those that are considering upgrading or are comparing versus an older model. So here we go!

Steam release — There are two major upgrades to the Ultra, and one of them is the steam release. Instead of a single steam valve that you turn to seal or release, the Ultra has a separate button. This is great for two reasons:

  1. You don’t have to touch where the steam is releasing, making it a little safer and less likely to scald
  2. It automatically resets to sealing when you open the lid. Even though I’ve used the IP a bazillion times, I still forget to close the valve sometimes on the old model. The Ultra makes this impossible by closing the vent automatically.

Note that when you press down the button for a quick release, it takes longer to release the pressure than older models. You can force it to release steam quicker by pressure down the button harder, but then you’ll have to stand there the whole time pressing the button.

Cooking Options — The Ultra has even more automated cooking settings, which is all well and good, but I rarely use any of them other than Pressure, Sauté, and Yogurt. But! With the Ultra, you can make some over-arching settings to the whole machine, as well as on a per-use basis. I’m a big fan of these options:

  1. You can turn the sound off. You may not want to turn the sound off, but with the amount of recipes I make in my IP and the amount of beeps it makes (especially the Ultra), sometimes I just want some peace and quiet. Note that it won’t beep at all, even when food is done cooking, so this is not for everyone/all the time.
  2. You can disable the Keep Warm function. I pretty much never use this function and the vast majority of the time I want it turned off, so as to not inhibit the release of pressure or scald delicate items on the bottom of the pot. Unfortunately you can’t turn off the function universally, but you can turn it off beforehand each time you cook something.

Backlit Display and Knob — The most obvious differences are the backlit display (which was already available on the Duo Plus) and a knob that you turn and press to make all selections. The knob takes a little getting used to, but for no specific reason I like it. I think with all of the options on this version of the IP, you need a knob instead of a million buttons to push.

Another Thing I’ve Noticed — In my experience thus far, pressure takes a lot longer to release with the Ultra than the older models. Just keep this in mind when budgeting time for a recipe. I honestly sometimes end up slowly releasing the pressure when I just can’t wait any longer.

All-in-all, the older models still work great, and it’s up to you if the jump in price is worth it. As someone who uses an Instant Pot all the time to test recipes, I’ve very much appreciated the revised steam release and the extra adjustables. But I also still use my old IP all the time. Long live pressure cooking, regardless of what cooker you choose!

Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but it’s for good reason, I swear! I am (drum roll please) writing a new cookbook! It’s another electric pressure cooker cookbook, but with more fun, interesting recipes for those ready to take the next step in their pressure cooker relationship. It’ll have lots of fun flavors and dishes and will incorporate the pressure cooker as part of your functioning, 21st century kitchen.

So in the meanwhile I’ll try to put up a blog post or two, but you’ll be hearing much more from me after the summer. It’s summer anyway, you should be sitting by a pool and reading a thriller-romance, not reading my dumb blog.

Keep an eye out for the cookbook via St. Martin’s Press, due out next spring!

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Pressure Cooker Brown Rice Risotto

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One of the most popular dishes to make in a pressure cooker is risotto. Instead of standing over a hot pot and stirring stirring stirring, the rice cooks away all on its own and emerges creamy and flavorful. It’s wonderful.

There are a couple of risotto recipes in my cookbook, but the variations are endless. I recently made a version using brown rice! It was super tasty and healthier than the typical version. You’ll just need a few more minutes of cooking time.

Note that this recipe is written for an electric pressure cooker, but will work with a stove top version as well.

Brown Rice Risotto
Serves 2-3 (you can easily double this recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine or 3 tablespoons dry vermouth
1 cup short-grain brown rice
2 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
Salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Mix-ins (see below)

Heat your pressure cooker using the Sauté function. Once hot, add the oil followed by the onion. Sauté for 3 minutes or until the onions are becoming translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add white wine or vermouth and cook, scraping the bottom, until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Turn off the Sauté function and add the rice, stock, and a healthy pinch of salt. Secure the lid and cook for 25 minutes at high pressure and use a natural release.

While the rice is cooking, prepare your mix-ins. I have some ideas for you below.

Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir vigorously for a few minutes until the rice is creamy. Add your mix-ins and stir. Serve topped with a little more Parmesan and perhaps a chopped fresh herb.

Mix-ins (mix and match!)

  • 1-2 links of high-quality sausage, cooked through and broken up or sliced
  • Sautéd chopped fresh spinach
  • Sautéd mushrooms with thyme
  • Roasted butternut squash and fresh sage
  • Roasted or sautéd asparagus and lemon
  • Broiled shrimp
  • Fresh, lightly cooked green peas
Pressure Cooker Brown Rice Risotto

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef

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I don’t know what’s happening here but I got this from That Dad Blog

It’s that time of year when people eat unnaturally green food and it’s okay! And everyone tries to remember how to make corned beef. No need to worry, I’ve got your back. Below is my recipe for pressure cooked corned beef from my book The Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals. It’s so easy and great with a mug of beer.

Corned Beef
Serves 8

1 (3 1/2-4 lb) flat-cut corned beef
1 (12-oz) bottle beer
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
Pepper

Rinse the corned beef and pat dry. Trim off the excess fat, leaving a thin layer behind.

Place the meat in the pressure cooker and cover with beer and broth. Add onion and bay leaf and season with pepper. Secure the lid.

Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 1 1/2 hours and use a natural release.

Let rest before slicing.

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef

Pressure Cooker Oatmeal in a Mug

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You guys! Did you know you can make steel-cut oatmeal in your electric pressure cooker in a mug? This means you can 1) make oatmeal for just one or two people, 2) flavor each individually however you like, and 3) it’s so easy and there’s basically no clean-up. Magical.

Just do this:

  1. Pour 1-2 cups of water into your pressure cooker pot and add the trivet.
  2. Add 1/4 cup steel-cut oats, 3/4 cup water (or part water and part milk), 1 pinch salt, 1 teaspoon butter or oil, and any flavorings to a mug (you can also add flavorings after you cook it). Stir.
  3. Set your mug (or mugs—most pressure cookers will hold two) on the trivet. Secure the top and cook at high pressure for about 20 minutes.
  4. Use a natural release! Trust me.
  5. Carefully remove the mug(s) and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir and add any mix-ins. EAT IT.

Note: Make sure your mug is heat-proof and ceramic. Glass will work too, but it must be tempered.

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Pressure Cooker Oatmeal in a Mug

Instant Pot Beef Chili

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It looks like this, but without the scary whole peppers

For the most recent edition of Cooking The Simpsons, I tackled Chief Wiggum’s insanity pepper-laden cook-off chili. While recipe testing this crazypants recipe, I kept gravitating toward my Instant Pot. I tend to do that with any soup or bean related recipe. So for those of you who are IP users, here is a classic chili recipe that works great in the all-purpose cooker. It’s not insanity pepper-level spicy, but rather has an easy, low intensity spiciness. Feel free to adjust according to your taste.

Instant Pot Chili
Loosely based on Ree Drummond’s very popular chili recipe
Serves 3-4

Grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil
1 poblano pepper, split in half lengthwise and seeded
2 medium jalapeño peppers, split in half lengthwise and seeded (leave some seeds if you want it hotter, only add 1 pepper or none if you want it mild)
1 small (or ½ large) onion, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
½ bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  1. Rub the poblano and jalapeño peppers with a light coating of oil and place them on a pan. Broil, flipping halfway through, until charred on both sides. Dice once cool enough to handle.
  2. Add a glug of oil to the Instant Pot and turn on Sauté. Once hot, add the onion and stir. Cook for a few minutes and then add the beef, bell pepper, and garlic. Break up the meat and stir until the meat is cooked through. Carefully spoon off any excess fat if needed. Add the poblano, jalapeño, chili powder and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook one minute more. Turn off the Sauté function.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and 1 can’s worth of water. Stir and secure the lid. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes and carefully use a quick release.
  4. Stir and add the beans. Cook on high pressure for 4 more minutes and use a natural release. Add more salt and pepper as needed. 

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Instant Pot Beef Chili