Pressure Cooker Texas Red Chili


Getting ready for the Super Bowl? Here’s a pot of Texas Red to serve with the big game.

Now, I’m getting lazy in my old age; I would rather pressure cook for minutes than it is to simmer for hours. I know this will get me in trouble with the Texas chili purists - where chili should be cooked in a cast iron dutch oven, hung over a post oak fire. I want to free up time so I can…watch the endless pre-game show. (Why yes, I can’t wait for four hours of DeflateGate coverage.)

Laziness aside, I do have a good argument for the pressure cooker; it helps me make chili the day before I want to eat it. This is a great chili hot out of the pot, but chili is always better the next day; that overnight rest and reheating does something good.“It lets the flavors marry”, is the traditional explanation. (I have no idea what that actually means, but it describes the results perfectly.) If you have the time - and the pressure cooker buys me the time - make this chili a day ahead. Your patience will be rewarded.
No pressure cooker? No worries. See “related recipes”, at the bottom of the recipe for stove top and slow cooker versions of this recipe.

Newfangled Pressure Cookers aside, this is a pretty straightforward chili recipe. I do use two additional tricks:

Trick 1: only brown the beef on one side. This trick I learned from Kenji Alt - I get browned fond on the bottom of the pot, and a sear on the beef, both of which add depth of flavor. By not browning the beef on all sides, I get more tender chunks of beef when the cooking is done, and the browning step goes much quicker. (Again with quicker. Maybe I’m not getting lazy in my old age; maybe I’m getting impatient? But I digress.)

Trick 2: the thickening. The sealed pressure cooker environment is good for trapping flavor and cooking quickly, but it doesn’t allow any evaporation. That means the liquid in the pot tends towards soupy instead of a thick chili. I do two things to fight this. The first is I cut back on added liquids - my favorite cooker, the Instant Pot, has a 1 1/2 cup minimum liquid amount, so I use a cup of liquid (coffee or beer), plus a can of crushed tomatoes to get above the minimum liquid amount. The next trick is to thicken after cooking. I whisk a quarter cup of masa harina - Mexican corn tortilla flour - into some of the cooking liquid, then stir the masa slurry back into the pot, and let it simmer for a few more minutes to thicken up.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Texas Red Chili

Instant Pot Frequently Asked Questions


Because of my Instant Pot Duo pressure cooker recommendation, I get email with questions about how to use Instant Pot cookers. This post is to put them in one place, so I can refer everyone to it. So, here we go: Instant Pot Questions and Answers.
If you have a question I didn’t cover, leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer.
Q: All your recipes say “cook at high pressure for X minutes.” The Instant Pot does not have a high pressure button. How do I get high pressure on the Instant Pot?

A: Use the Manual button

On the instant pot, the “Manual” button means manual pressure cooking, as opposed to using a program mode for automatic pressure cooking. (The program modes are the other buttons: Soup, Poultry, Meat/Stew, etc…) Personally, I never bother with the program modes - I always use manual. Press the manual button, use the plus and minus buttons to adjust the cooking time, then leave the cooker alone. After ten seconds, it will beep and start cooking.

PicOfTheWeek: Multi-Orange Salad


PicOfTheWeek: Navel oranges, tangerines and blood oranges, with shredded fennel, crumbled blue cheese, baby spinach and baby kale, and a sherry vinaigrette. And it tastes even better than it looks.

Gas Grilled Baby Back Ribs, Brined With Garlic, Sage and Rosemary Rub


It’s not the same as charcoal. I have to confess that up front.

But when life gets in the way…like, say, forgetting that you have an appointment at 4PM and people coming over for a party at 6PM…you make do.

Gas grilled baby back ribs are easy, that’s for sure. Set your burners to hold the temp at 275°F, and you’re good until the gas runs out. (I have a natural gas line run to my grill - if the gas runs out, we’ve hit peak oil.)

I brined the ribs like a roast, adding garlic and two of the “song herbs” to the brine: sage and rosemary. Now, I know, I know: brining doesn’t work with flavors - they can’t penetrate into the meat. That’s OK. I’m using them to season the outside of the ribs, while the salt penetrates for thorough seasoning.
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and…I was out of thyme. Bwahahahah! Ahem. Sorry.

Three hours on the grill at indirect low heat (while I ran off to my appointment); another hour wrapped in foil to tenderize. The result: ribs that pull apart with a gentle tug, and a successful party.

Recipe: Gas Grilled Baby Back Ribs, Brined With Garlic, Sage and Rosemary Rub

Review: Instant Pot Silicone Mitts


I gave in to gadget lust and bought the new Instant Pot IP-Smart pressure cooker; a pair of silicone mini-mitts came in the box. When I first saw them, I thought “why would I bother with those tiny things”?