Pressure cooking tough cuts of meat
Posted 11 May 2004 - 06:20 AM
Of course I spend all day in the kitchen so the occasional poking and stirring to check moisture levels presents no burden. Pressure cooking seems to have become less common now other than for jams and marmalade. Possibly because people are a bit intimidated by tough joints of meat anyway. Also because it represents yet another gadget to store and dust if it isn't to be used on a regular basis - most wedding present lists will have a microwave rather than a pressure cooker. Not sure what that may say about things
Posted 12 May 2004 - 08:05 PM
I don't use a pressure cooker and I've never eaten a well prepared cut of meat that was cooked in one. This is more due to the fact that I have no room to keep the instrument in my apartment kitchen than having an animus against them. I think also there is a belief that one can retrieve a tough cut by pressure cooking or long slow cooking in a vessel just large enough to hold it a la Escoffier. In my days of cuisine sans argent (which seems to be persist) and American markets with only the horrid "select" grade beef on offer, I threw a lot of method at tough cuts. After a long stretch of applying fine technique to these tasteless tough viands, I arrived at the conclusion that a chuck roast (for example) must be well marbeled and in the USDA choice grade before one's effort is rewarded.
(If I knew how include an image from my picture files here, you would see an image of a couple of chuck roasts approximately 2-3 inches thick with well distributed marbling of fat.)
This beef was well browned in the pot. It was removed and a mirepoix was well browned in the pot. A cup of wine was added, the meat returned to the pot, and the wine was reduced. Beef stock was added with a couple of bay leaves, a bit of thyme, coarse pepper, and garlic cloves split in half. The pot was lidded over a sheet of foil to ensure a good seal and cooked at 250-300 degrees until the meat when tested with a carving fork would fall off the fork. At this point I ladeled out enough stock to defat and turn into a sauce. I continued cooking for an hour longer because I wanted the beef, now fairly tender, to take up some of the flavor in the stock. While the beef was cooking, I threw in some root veges, potato chunks, carrots, and little onions to cook with the meat while I concentrated on the defatted stock which was spiked with some wine and reduced to a thin consistency. I would have liked to taken some of the fat and laced the meat with it in a pan in the oven to give it a nice glaze but I was pressed for time.
At present, I am not convinced that the pressure cooker would do more than save a little time in the preparation of beef dishes. It might answer to cooking pork in the US which can still be flavorful although pork has mostly been destroyed thanks to the effort to reduce its fat content and market it as "the other white meat". The only entree level pork I will still bother with are rib chops but I can't get them anymore because the restaurants have cornered the market on rib chops. A nice fatty pork butt cut might respond well to pressure cooking because it has the flavor to perhaps stand up to the violence of high pressure and heat, but I am waxing theoretical here.
I think the adage about trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear applies in cooking. Indeed I have tried but I don't think that it worth the effort to attempt good dishes from viands that should be ground into casings for bangers and mash.
Posted 13 May 2004 - 01:45 AM