I use mine for the usual suspects; soups, stews, beans, etc. But I also cook my spaghetti sauce with meatballs in it. Brown meatballs in EVOO first, but don't let them cook through. Then in goes tomato sauce, paste, spices, wine, etc. Pressure cooking on very low heat seems to integrate the sauce better than just simmering. It comes out incredibly smooth and rich.
My favorite uses for my pressure cooker are making risotto and stocks. I've learned a lot about pressure cooking methods and times from Lorna Sass's books on the subject.
Risotto can be made in less than 12 minutes from start to finish and does not require constant stirring.
Chicken stock is so easy and fast to make that I hardly ever bother with commercially-made products anymore. In 45 minutes, you have a pot full of incredibly rich stock that can be enjoyed as soup and/or frozen for later use.
When I am making a giblet broth for turkey gravy, I always cook the giblets in the pressure cooker. Starting with chicken stock, the resulting giblet broth makes an exceptional gravy. And, in 30 minutes, the neck meat is falling off the bones and the gizzards are meltingly tender.
Heres a recipe for Pierre Franeys Daube de Boeuf Provençale - braised beef with tomatoes and herbs. The ingredient list is long but its easy to do and the effort is well worth it. The joy of using a pressure cooker is being able to make something delicious and tender from a relatively inexpensive, tough meat.
3 pounds lean chuck steak, cut into 1½-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ pound whole mushrooms, quartered or left whole, depending on the size
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
½ pound onions, cut into 1-inch cubes or left whole if quite small
¼ cup flour
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups canned imported tomatoes, left whole if small or cut in half if large
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 pitted, stuffed green olives
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon stem saffron (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Trim all the visible fat off the meat and sprinkle the cubes with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a pressure cooker almost to the smoking point. Brown the meat on all sides over high heat in batches if necessary.
Stir in the garlic, then stir in the onions and mushrooms. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to evenly coat the pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the chopped parsley and stir while bringing to a boil. Put the top on the cooker.
Reduce the heat and cook according to your pressure cookers instructions, 20 to 25 minutes. Then uncover per the directions.
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve with buttered noodles or steamed potatoes.
Heres a short ribs recipe I havent tried. Its from Pressure Cookery Perfected, by Roy Andries De Groot (Summit Books, 1978). Dont know if this book is still in print its a thick, magazine-size paperback. I just looked on Amazon and found that they have 33 used copies cheap. There's a wonderful recipe in it for Hoppin' John that's become one of our family favorites. Anyway, Ill paraphrase the directions. Most important, remember that the meat has to be marinated in the fridge overnight before cooking and you need at least a 6-quart pressure cooker.
Short Ribs Poached in Aromatic Brandy
4 lbs. lean, meaty short ribs, cut up into practical serving pieces
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
4 tablespoons good olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup good California brandy (Note from Deenso: Dont know why California brandy is specified maybe lower cost?)
½ cup dry white wine
Salt, to taste
4 medium carrots, peeled
4 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered and held in water
4 medium white turnips, peeled
To marinate the beef: place the pieces in a big bowl and mingle with the onion, bay leaf, garlic, parsley, thyme, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and pepper to taste. Pour the brandy over all, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, turn the beef pieces over so theyll be moistened evenly.
To prepare: take the meat out of the marinade and pat the pieces dry. (Reserve the marinade.) Put your pressure cooker over fairly high heat and pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is got, sauté the meat on all sides until browned. Then pour in the marinade, wine and salt to taste. When it comes to a boil, cover, bring the pressure up to 10 pounds and cook for 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat, reduce the pressure immediately, remove the top and put in the carrots, potatoes and turnips. Cover and bring the pressure back up to 10 for 15 more minutes.
Reduce the pressure immediately again. Remove the ribs and vegetables from the cooker and skim excess fat from the surface of the sauce. Serve in heated bowls.