The husband brought home a humongous lobster tail the other day (pictured in the end of this post), he grilled it for our dinner but we still had a substantial amount of lobster meat leftover. Next day, I brought it back in risotto form, and used one of my favorite methods to make it: the pressure cooker (for a flash back, click here). Not traditional, not authentic, but trust me, works like a charm!

(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and cut in small pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large celery stick, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
salt and pepper to taste
fresh tarragon leaves, to taste
3 + 1/2 cups shrimp broth (made according to this recipe)
1/2 cup dry white wine
lobster meat, fully cooked, cut in pieces
lemon zest and juice to taste

Warm up the shrimp broth in a saucepan. If you don’t have enough shrimp stock, make the difference with water. In a pressure cooker, heat 4 tbs Olive oil and 1 Tbs Butter. Add the celery and mushrooms and saute until fragrant. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the tarragon and rice, cook stirring until all grains are well coated with the oil/mushroom mixture (about 3 minutes).  Pour all the warm stock and wine  in the pan, close it, and bring to full pressure. Reduce the heat or use the specific instructions from your pan to keep the pressure constant for 7 minutes.  Immediately take the pan to the sink, run some cold water over the lid to reduce the temperature, and when the pressure is down, open the pan.  Add the lobster meat, lemon zest, a squirt of lemon juice, and simmer everything together, until the lobster is warmed through. Serve with fresh tarragon leaves, adjusting seasoning if needed.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Can you wrap your mind around the size of that baby? Since it is just the two of us, no way we could finish it that evening. Ideally lobster stock would be more appropriate for the risotto, but I had discarded the shell and remembered I had some shrimp stock in the freezer, so I put it to use. I have made risotto using green tea as the liquid and I almost went that route with this version. Most risotto recipes will have you add more butter before serving, but we never do that. Your kitchen, your rules, do it if you like. I debated whether to put the lobster meat in the beginning, but felt that since it was already fully cooked, the 7 minutes of intense heat could be too much. I just cut it in small pieces and simmered for 5 minutes. It turned out delicious. The tarragon flavor was quite strong, I used maybe one full sprig in the broth, and a few fresh leaves to serve. This was a delicious dinner, and super fast to bring to the table.

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Are you familiar with Mexican mole sauces? Well, this is not it. It goes in that direction, but it is much, much simpler. Moles are notoriously complex to make, requiring hours of simmering and a long list of ingredients. This sauce is very simple by comparison. I was inspired by a few recipes from Pati Jinich of PBS fame, and cooked it under pressure. You can use an Instant Pot or simply braise it for a longer time.

(inspired by Pati Jinich)

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup pecans
4 prunes
2 pasilla dried chilis, stemmed and seeds removed
1 medium shallot, peeled, cut in half
1 cup strained tomatoes (I used Pomi)
salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the sauce. Add the dried pasillas to a super hot skillet and dry cook them on both sides until they get soft and fragrant. Reserve. Broil the shallot or dry roast it in the pan together with the pepper.

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan, add the pasillas, broiled shallots, pecans, and prunes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the contents of the pan to a high-power blender (I used a Vitamix), and process until full smooth.

Heat the oil in your pressure cooker or instant pot, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and brown them on both sides, four pieces at a time. Remove to a bowl as they are done. When they are all browned, remove the excess oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon behind. Add the chicken back to the pressure cooker, pour 1 cup strained tomatoes and 1 cup of the pasilla sauce. Close the pan, bring to full pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Release the pressure (quickly is ok), and if needed, simmer down the sauce. Adjust seasoning, and serve with your side dishes of choice, or shred the meat and wrap in tortillas.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We both loved this take on chicken thighs. You can serve this with rice and beans, you can serve it with tortillas and some salsa, but I opted for a simple sweet potato puree and broccoli. The sauce is super flavorful, so it will go well with pretty much any side dish you want: couscous, rice pilaf, even pasta or polenta. Don’t worry, call it fusion cuisine. The pasilla-pecan sauce will make more than you need for this recipe, so you can freeze it for later.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, just brown the meat, add the sauce, cover tightly and simmer gently until cooked through, probably 50 minutes or so, depending on how tender you like it. I have not tried it with chicken thighs on the bone and with the skin on, but if you brown the skin well, I don’t see any problems. It will have a lot more fat in the end, though.

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This is a pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) recipe. I am afraid that to get the texture of the meat and depth of flavor in the sauce just right, you’ll need to use it. Also, don’t be tempted to keep the skin on the chicken thighs, because they will make the sauce very fatty and heavy. So take a deep breath and remove it.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, minced
4 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tsp kashmiri chili
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
5 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup yogurt, full-fat
1 tsp cornstarch
fresh cilantro, to serve

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker (or your Instant Pot using the sauté function), add the shallots, cardamon pods, cinnamon stick and salt. Cook until the shallots are soft and fragrant. Add the ginger, tomato paste, chili, cumin, and paprika. Cook for about 1 minute, add 1 cup of water, gently stir, then add the chicken pieces.

Close the pan and cook in full pressure for 12 minutes, then let the pressure reduce naturally for 15 minutes. Release any pressure left (running water over the lid or doing whatever method is called for in the Instant Pot), open the pan and remove the chicken pieces to a serving bowl, keeping it tented with foil. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods, then reduce the sauce by simmering for 10 to 15 minutes. Mix the yogurt with cornstarch, add to the simmering sauce, return the chicken to the pan, and simmer it all together for a few minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle fresh cilantro. Serve over rice or with your favorite side dish.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Kashmiri chili is a great spice, with subtle heat and unique flavor. The pressure cooker does a wonderful job tenderizing the meat and allowing the sauce to develop that complex taste usually reserved for things cooked for hours and hours. Adding a little amount of cornstarch to the yogurt prevents it from separating during simmering, and gives a velvety texture I am quite fond of. If you rather not use it, whisk the yogurt as you pour it into the pan, and avoid cooking for very long. The sauce will be obviously a lot thinner, but still taste wonderful.

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I use the pressure cooker a lot, pretty much the whole year. I wanted to make chicken soup under pressure (the soup, not the cook), so I started by checking a few cookbooks and websites. I shall name no names, but a very very reputable source gave me a recipe that disappointed on many levels. I used it as a very loose starting point. My version got two thumbs up from me and the man I’ve been happily married with for 21 years, 11 months and 3.5 weeks. Yes, almost anniversary time for us!

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, halved
6 medium carrots, 3 halved crosswise and 3 peeled and cut into half-moons
4 stalks celery, 2 halved crosswise and 2 cut into half-moons
10 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 large chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces, with the skin removed, wings left with skin on
2 quarts water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 piece ginger (about 1 inch)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste, optional
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving
noodles of your choice, amount to taste

Heat the oil in your pressure cooker, add the shallots, and the large pieces of carrots and celery, season lightly with salt and pepper. Sautee until fragrant.

Add the chicken pieces, but do not include the breast. Add water, peppercorns, soy sauce and ginger. Make sure the water covers all the pieces of meat. Close the pressure cooker, and cook under pressure for 30 minutes. Release the pressure by running cold water over the lid, or if using the Instant Pot, use the rapid release method.

Strain the liquid passing it through a fine sieve. Discard all solids. You should have at least 8 cups of stock, if you have less, add water to complete the volume. Place the liquid back in the pressure cooker, or use another large stockpot. Add the breasts to the stock, then the pieces of carrots and celery reserved earlier. Simmer very gently until the breast is cooked through – it might take 20 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts.

Cook the noodles al dente and rinse them in cold water. Reserve. You’ll need about 2 cups cooked noodles for the full amount of soup.

When the breast meat is cooked, remove to a plate and shred the meat with a fork. Add it back to the stock, and add the cooked noodles. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and squirt a little lemon juice right before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I made this soup three times during this winter. First time I was worried that the noodles would get too mushy if left in the broth for a day or two, so I was trying to add them to just the amount of soup we would consume in that meal. But, there’s really no need to do that. It turns out they hold pretty well in the fridge. I just try to cook them JUST to the al dente stage.

The pressure cooker does a beautiful job intensifying flavors, so the soup is very satisfying and has a bright flavor due to the ginger and lemon. I hope you give it a try, either with a pressure cooker or the Instant Pot.

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This was made in a pressure cooker, but if you don’t own one, no problem. Follow my modifications for a stove-top version. I often make chili exclusively with ground turkey but this version with 50% bison won our seal of approval. Not that much additional fat, but definitely a more complex flavor.

(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeños, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
2 large sweet potatoes, diced
1 pound ground chicken
1 pound ground bison meat
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or other red pepper of your choice)
1 can (28 ounce) whole tomatoes
garnishes of your choice

Heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker. Sautee the shallot, bell pepper and jalapeños with a little salt and pepper. When fragrant, add the two kinds of meat and saute for a few minutes. Add all other ingredients, close the pressure cooker and bring to full pressure.

Reduce heat, cook for 25 minutes. Release the pressure quickly according to the method recommended for your pan. Simmer the chili gently for a few more minutes and serve. Adjust consistency with water or by reducing it further. Serve with toppings of your choice. If making in a regular pan, simmer gently for 1 hour, adding more liquid if needed during cooking.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As you may know, we cook with leftovers in mind, and chili is one of the perfect recipes to enjoy in subsequent days, it gets better and better. Bison meat is widely available where we live, but any ground beef will work, although the fat amount will be higher with most other cuts. We love the mixture of the two types of meat. If you have pickled jalapeños hanging around, they are a nice topping idea also. We used guacamole and yogurt seasoned with salt and lime juice.

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