Pork spare ribs

Cooking pork spare ribs to that point where they are extremely luscious and tender is usually a long process, usually involving the oven (at least for me). Even in the cooler weather this didn’t seem to be an option even with windows and doors open; however it occurred to me that I had another option: the Instant Pot. So despite the rather humid (even if cool) weather and the prospect of hotter weather imminent, that package of spare ribs went home with me.

I’ve cooked other meat (e.g. beef short ribs) in my Instant Pot with wonderful results so that was my plan. Realizing that i was going to have an abundance of pork I started thinking of ways to deal with it: some for the freezer perhaps since there are lots of things to do with good cooked pork.

My favorite way of cooking many things in the Instant Pot (IP) is the pot-in-pot method*–a container with a lid inside the Instant Pot. My reason for using this method so often is that in cooking for one I’m often using rather small quantities in a six-quart IP. Often I don’t want to add as much liquid as would be necessary cooking directly in the container of the pot itself.

I like this method especially for meats. The broth that you collect is undiluted by water so you have broth that is flavorful and will gel nicely. So that is how the spare ribs were cooked. The only “disadvantage” to this method is that you may need to increase the cooking times but since I use the IP mainly because of hands-off method and flavor I don’t find that to be a problem.

It really isn’t possible to give quantities for things like the peppercorns or precisely for the salt–you’ll have to judge by your taste.

Ingredients

  • about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds boneless pork spare ribs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • whole black peppercorns (a lot–about a generous teaspoon or more if you like pepper
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
  • salt (more than you would think)–about 2 or 3 teaspoons

Preparation

  • The day before or at least three or four hours ahead of cooking, sprinkle the spare ribs generously with kosher salt.
  • When ready to cook, rinse if there is still salt visible and pat the meat dry.
  • Cut the strips into 2- or 3-inch chunks (to fit into your bowl).
  • Add 1 cup of water to the IP container, place the trivet, and set the covered bowl on the trivet.
  • Close the IP and set to “meat”. These took about 90 minutes at high pressure.

I removed a healthy serving of the cooked spare ribs for my supper on that cool, rainy evening (with sides of cabbage and some rice) and then cooled the remaining in the broth (and the fat) for another use.

Cooks notes: *This is a rather long video but it introduces the pot-in-pot method and containers suitable for this. I almost always use a cover on the inner pot so that additional liquid doesn’t collect in it. For more on containers see this link, this link, or here.

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Instant Pot recipe sources

My Instant Pot (IP) is now a kitchen fixture (as was my multicooker before)–it has a special spot on the counter since it is in almost daily use. The more I use it the better I like it.   It’s a great addition to the kitchen and has replaced several other small appliances; however, that does not mean I’m ready to give up the dutch oven for some slow cooking in the oven on winter days.  That kind of braise is not something that I expect the IP to replicate.

I’m working on a list of credible recipe sources for it.   By credible, I mean those that seem to be aware of what this appliance can really do, without unrealistic expectations.  Some books that I’ve looked at seem to suggest that the IP can replace any other way of cooking, so I’d not judge them to be useful recipe sources.

My inbox popped up useful information from a favorite source (Kitchn): a whole gallery of different things that are kind of IP basics   like rice, steel-cut oats (important breakfast stuff here), cooking dried beans (one of the main reasons for getting the IP), stock-making (pressure and slow cooker), and not-so-basic: risotto, braised cabbage, plus a lot more. This gallery includes the slow-cooker function of the IP (which seems to be somewhat ignored in many books and online groups).

Cookbooks by authors that I’ve found useful while adapting to the way the Instant Pot works include:

  • The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook: Fresh and Foolproof Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Coco Marante, 2017, Kindle or hardcover.
  • Comfort in an Instant: 75 Comfort Food Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot®, by Melissa Clark, 2018, Kindle or hardcover.
  • Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot® by Melissa Clark, 2017, Kindle or hardcover.
  • Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Urvashi Pitre, 2017, paperback, and free to read via Kindle Unlimited.
  • The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: Authentic Flavors and Modern Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Archana Mundhe, 2018, Kindle and hardcover.
  • The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook: 200 Deliciously Simple Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Coco Marante, 2017, Kindle and hardcover.
  • The Keto Instant Pot Cookbook: Ketogenic Diet Pressure Cooker Recipes Made Easy and Fast bu Urvashi Pitre, 2018, Kindle and paperback.
  • Instant Pot Miracle: From Gourmet to Everyday, 175 Must-Have Recipes by The Editors at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, Kindle and paperback.

There are a couple others coming out in 2019 that I’m looking forward to taking a look at:

  • Madhur Jaffrey’s Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey, to be released May 2019, Kindle and hardcover.  
  • Instant Pot Fast & Easy: 100 Simple and Delicious Recipes for Your Instant Pot by Urvashi Pitre, January 2019

 

A son gôut!

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Seasoning cast iron

I have cooking equipment in my kitchen that needs seasoning: double-burner cast iron grill/griddle, a round single-burner griddle, two small skillets (the two-egg size), and a carbon steel skillet.  Once seasoned these take little care.

I’ve always used vegetable oil to season mine. I was interested to find an article recommending beeswax.  Now that I have bees, perhaps I will try that next time my seasoning needs refreshing.  It seems as if it might have some advantages.

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Instant Pot cottage cheese! Awesome.

I’m one of those people who grew up with homemade cottage cheese and everything out of the grocery store is a real washout after that.  I’ve made it at home occasionally, on the stovetop, but that takes more attention than I’m sometimes ready to give to it.

I just got my email from Taste magazine and there was an article on cottage cheese. It’s from the point of view of a “life-long southerner” (which I’m definitely not) but even some northerners did the homemade cottage thing.  Somehow I missed the concept that with the Instant Pot yogurt cycle I could make cottage cheese easily until I saw this article and the recipe.

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One-pan cooking

It’s really no secret that I don’t like washing dishes–I know some people say that they do, but I simply don’t believe it (I can kind of understand liking ironing, but…). It’s not as wv5220xthough I’ve never mentioned “one-pot meals” here and it’s pretty obvious that I don’t feel a huge need for recipes, but sometimes some guidelines are nice.

In perusing the internet I see lots of recipes that can be done in one pot–or maybe a sheet pan. These are so easily adaptable for single-serving cooking, use things that come in “chunks”,  and that it’s possible to buy in appropriate quantities.  For winter cooking I’ve got no problems using the oven as it simply contributes to heating the house. I’ve bought a one-quarter (9 x 13 inch) sheet pan to prepare for winter meals.

Summer is another matter–no oven use for this person.  I don’t want to add any extra heat, but cooking on a single burner would be within my limits (maybe actually doing it on an induction unit, too.)  Today, I found an article in Bon Appetit Basically that provided some guidelines for building a one-skillet meal that seems very amenable to improvisation–in other words a how to approach.

I’d suggest you take a look at the full article, but in summary:

  1. Cook your protein first. For quick-cooking things like shrimp, etc be sure to undercook just a tad.
  2. Add aromatics of your choice.
  3. Deglaze with your choice of liquid.
  4. Add vegetables; quick-cooking ones are best but that leaves a lot of options.
  5. Add pre-cooked grains if you wish.
  6. Return to protein to the skillet, to reheat if necessary.
  7. Serve!

If you do this in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet the cleanup is going to be really simple. Even better, if the skillet can also go in the oven you’ve even more flexibility in finishing off you one-skillet meal. (Tonight, my skillet will contain some good onion sausage and kohlrabi leaves with a few aromatics–onions and garlic.)

A son gôut!

Kitchen gloves

I hadn’t really thought much about “dish” gloves even though I don’t have a dishwasher until I saw this article from thekitchn.com on “5 Surprising Things I Learned from Using Dish Gloves”.  I do have gloves in my kitchen–True Blues. Since I’m washing dishes only for myself most of the time I don’t usually put them on–I either get my hands wet or use a brush: however, I do have some “rubber” (actually probably neoprene), lined, heavy gloves that offer heat protection and that I use in place of “hot pads” for a lot of things. They have textured “hands” so it’s easy to get a good grip. 71NNQBEEKxL._SL1500_[1]

These gloves are not really “dish” gloves–they are closer to safety gloves and were likely intended for a restaurant dishwasher. I can wash dishes in them, but they have a lot of other uses, too. They are great for handling very hot dishes or pans. Since I can put them on and wash them just like I would wash my hands before handling food, they are great for flipping that chicken or turkey easily or get hot dishes out of the Instant Pot.

These are kitchen gloves–though they would be suitable for cleaning anywhere and even with harsh chemicals,–these are cooking gloves. These are machine washable and heat safe up to 185°F.  You can get small, medium, or large–and they are latex free. Though not cheap–probably $12-$16, they are a bit like the energizer bunny.  Found in high-end kitchen stores like Williams-Sonoma or Vermont Country Store.

Popcorn!

I am a big fan of popcorn. I’ll take that over potato chips, or any other variety of chips almost any time. It’s just the thing to go with a good book while you’re having a duvet day.

PopCorn MakerYou can probably even make a case that it is at least “healthy-ish”–compared to most other snacks that come in bags from the grocery store–and it’s more fun. You can custom tailor the seasoning to fit your mood. At least I know what’s in it if I’ve popped and seasoned it myself.

I’ve gotten very fond of my Lékué PopCorn Maker for making popcorn in the microwave (and that’s about the only thing I do in the microwave).  I will admit to using oil (usually about 1-1/2  tablespoons of olive oil for about 1/3 cup popcorn) when popping popcorn. For some awesome popcorn, use just a little Baklouti chili pepper (fused) olive oil (about 1 teaspoon) with the regular olive oil. Wow!

Other favorite infused oils (all from Bull City Olive Oil) to touch up my popcorn with are harissa, chipotle, or garlic.

While I don’t often do stove-top popcorn, I did find some interesting suggestions for other flavorings to try from Taste in “Really Good Popcorn“: brewer’s yeast, dulse flakes (I know I like other seaweed seasonings), and Urfa biber (described as in that article as “a dried Turkish chile pepper with a raisin-like sweetness, a subtle spice, and the gentle acidity of a lightly roasted Ethiopian coffee”–that sounds totally great.  Since I’ve used Aleppo pepper on popcorn and that makes this sound very interesting to me.

A son gôut!

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