Pressure Cooking Pot Roast and More

It seems like the more I cook, the more I get intimidated when walking through the meat department. This is especially true when I visit the local butcher shop. Perhaps it’s because I feel as though I should know by now which meats to use, and which ones to avoid.

But, it seems no matter how much I try, ask friends, or watch all the popular cooking shows, I still manage to come home with some tough cuts of meat that I really didn’t know how to tenderize properly. Now, I could either raise my budget for meat, keep doing what I am doing, or do…something else.

Rather than continuing down this path or raising my budget, I decided to dive into research to learn what I can do about working with tougher cuts. These cuts are typically the less expensive meats such as chuck (shoulder), pot roast, flank (belly), round (hind leg), or brisket (upper foreleg)…yet, they offer plenty of flavor.

Here is what I learned…

Preparing the Meat

There are a few steps you can take to help tenderize the meat, prior to cooking. One way is to use a kitchen mallet to help break down the connective tissues. However, use plastic wrap to cover the meat before pounding it to prevent little pieces from flying all over. The more you pound, the thinner your meat will be…but, it will also spread out for more portions.

My favorite way to tenderize the meat is with a good marinade, which can also infuse great flavor. In order to maximize the benefits of a marinade it should contain 3 elements, which are an acid, oil, and some aroma. Oil provides moisture, acid helps to break down the connective tissue…and the aroma is the flavor.

Always use natural ingredients when you have them available. You can buy a meat tenderizer off the shelf, but they are filled with preservatives and sodium. So, make your own. One of the best oils to use is olive oil, due to it being one of the healthiest. As for acids, try using citrus juice, vinegar, wine, beer, or buttermilk.

The aroma you use is completely up to your personal taste. Garlic, onion, and various herbs are great additions to a marinade. Again, use fresh when you can… with everything.

Using a Pressure Cooker

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you might want to look into getting one. Pressure cookers work well with tougher cuts of meat, because the steam that is produced in the cooker will help to break down the connective tissue.

A good pressure cooker will also speed up your cooking time considerably, saving time for busy families. For example, if you cook a pot roast in a conventional method, it may take you three hours or longer vs. 45-minutes in a pressure cooker. This means that you don’t have to start cooking at noon or earlier, to have a nice roast beef meal with potatoes and veggies for dinner. Most pressure cookers will come with their own instructions…and I highly recommend reading all the way through them before you use it for the first time.

Also, you will be able to save money by using a pressure cooker. One reason is that you can buy the less expensive meats and still have a very tasty and tender meal. The other reason is that it cuts down on the cooking time, rather than having your oven run for hours at a time.

One last tip for cooking meat in a pressure cooker is to sear the meat first before you put it in the cooker. If you are unfamiliar with searing, it’s just another word for browning. This will seal in the natural juices of the meat, locking in moisture. It will also impart some wonderful flavor when you first sear the meat slightly on all sides.

In Closing

Hopefully I have shared enough information so that you now know that it’s possible to achieve great results when using tougher cuts of meat. Also, that you can save time and money, as well as impress your family by taking some fairly easy steps when cooking with a pressure cooker.

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