christmas dinners of years past and a recipe: pressure cooker pot roast

Christmas dinners of my childhood were small, simple affairs. Most of my extended family live in Kentucky and Tennessee, so it was often just my younger brother and me and my parents at home for the holiday. Later, when my mother’s parents moved to Florida, they joined us for Christmas dinner. My grandparents always stayed late for competitive games of Rook around the round oak dining table, its smooth edges warped from too many years in the Florida humidity, and my grandfather with an eternal cup of black coffee beside his hand.

Somewhere through the years, we decided to forgo the roasted turkey or glazed ham, and instead we chose to celebrate that day with a pot roast, mashed potatoes, and gravy – three of my father’s specialties. He was a master at preparing flavorful, juicy roast beef in his ancient Presto pressure cooker. The hissing and spitting sounds made by that pressure cooker and the savory aromas of the beef filled the house on Christmas, teasing us with the promise of the delectable meal that awaited us.

I was never able to replicate my father’s pot roast until I got over my own fear of the pressure cooker. Though I never witnessed any explosions, the noises emitted from that cooker as the pressure increased inside were enough to put an everlasting fear and mistrust of that device into me.

Perhaps some part of me didn’t truly want to replicate the meal. Because my taste memory of that dish is permanently intermingled and entwined with memories of my father, I wanted him to be the only one to cook that pot roast for us. Always and forever.

Of course, another big part of me just wanted to eat that pot roast again and not have to wait for Dad or for Christmas.

So I did it. I made my own version, staying true to the general idea of my father’s pot roast, but infusing my own touches into the recipe. And I managed to avoid the scary, old fashioned stove-top pressure cooker, instead using the more modern electric version for my version of Dad’s pot roast. This one doesn’t make crazy noises that scare the children – or me – and I like the convenience of pressing buttons.

This is a great pot roast, perfectly juicy and tender. It’s not my father’s pot roast, but that’s okay. This one will do until he can make his again for us.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Cook Time: 65 minutes

Pressure Cooker Roast Beef

This Cuisinart electric pressure cooker is the pressure cooker I use, and I highly recommend it. It's perfect for those of us who are scared of the stove-top ones that sound as if they're going to blow up.

Ingredients:

For herb sachet:
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
3 cloves garlic, crushed

For roast:
4 to 5 pound chuck roast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Prepare the herb sachet: In a square of cheesecloth, combine bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, and garlic. Bring the corners of the cheesecloth square together and tie with cooking twine. Set aside.

If using an electric pressure cooker: Season the roast with salt and pepper. Select Browning setting and add olive oil. When oil is hot, brown the roast on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side, then remove roast to a plate. Choose the Sauté setting, then add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are getting soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and wine, stirring until about half the liquid has evaporated. Add beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Crush the herb sachet gently in your hands to release the aromas, then add it to the pot. Nestle the roast on top. Cover and lock lid in place. Select High Pressure and set timer for 99 minutes. When the audible beep sounds, allow the pressure to release naturally. When the float valve has dropped, remove lid carefully.

If using a stove-top pressure cooker: Season the roast with salt and pepper. Place cooker over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, brown the roast on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side, then remove roast to a plate. Still on medium-high heat, add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are getting soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and wine, stirring until about half the liquid has evaporated. Add beef broth and Worcestershire sauce. Crush the herb sachet gently in your hands to release the aromas, then add it to the pot. Nestle the roast on top. Cover and lock lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Reduce heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 55-60 minutes (err towards 60 minutes if your roast is closer to 5 pounds than 4). Turn off heat and allow the the pressure to release naturally. When the float valve has dropped, remove lid carefully.

Remove roast from the pressure cooker, slice against the grain - or pull apart with a fork - and serve.

    Pin It

21 Responses to “spicy zucchini and ricotta fritters”

  1. It’s cold here today too….but there are no flip flops in sight! It’s about 40degrees! lol. I miss those “cold” Florida days 😉

    This has all my favorite ingredients! And can you believe that I am Italian and have never made any fritters?! Unheard of right?

    I will definitely have to pin these for later!

    mmmmmmmmmm 🙂

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food — November 11, 2011 @ 9:42 am

    I think I’m just now able to embrace fall foods… I do miss summer, but when I see these leaves, it just makes me so happy.

  3. Karriann Graf — November 12, 2011 @ 9:17 pm

    Yikes I’d be freezing in Key West if it hit 37′ degrees, lots of houses don’t have heat since normally our winters are mild. Stay Warm up there.

    These fritters look awesome 🙂

  4. Adrienne — November 12, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    I had no idea Florida got that cold! These look fab, by the way.

  5. Paula — November 12, 2011 @ 10:55 pm

    I have a hard time believing that you would have any moments left unproductive in your day let alone an hour! These fritters look wonderful.

    Take heart in knowing on December 21st the days start getting longer again and you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds from your front porch rocker before your know it 🙂

  6. Chris — November 13, 2011 @ 11:19 am

    ha ha, yeah I had a hard time feeling sorry for my in laws when they mentioned how “cold” it was in Florida yesterday….and out on their boat in the afternoon.

    I like these fritters. I made them before but not with the jalapenos like yours, I LOVE that. These would be good on their own or as the literal base of another recipe. Like maybe sauce on a plate, then your cakes, and then topped with strips of spicy grilled chicken. Can you tell you got my mind thinking? ha ha

  7. DessertForTwo — November 14, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    What a great vegetarian dinner for two idea! Thanks 🙂

    I’ve been thinking about you lots, sweet lady. I hope you are still sitting on your rocker, enjoying the last few moments of the day, sunset or not, you deserve some relaxing ‘you’ time.

    Lots of love 🙂
    tina

  8. Rachel — November 14, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

    These look awesome. Do you ever put any kind of sauce with these? What do you recommend?

    I am embarassed to say that I don’t think I’ve ever had a fritter. Are they similar to potato pancakes? The picture reminds me of potato latkes. YUM.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — November 14th, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

      Rachel,
      Yes, they’re probably most similar to a potato pancake. I’d think a garlic aioli would be nice with these.

  9. Nutmeg Nanny — November 15, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    These fritters look great! I always grab up zucchini every time I see it. I can’t help it. I love it so much!

  10. Sook — November 16, 2011 @ 3:37 am

    I love zucchini fritters. They look great!

  11. Adria — February 3, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    I made these tonight, and they were a complete hit! What a great recipe and simple dinner. Thanks!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — February 3rd, 2012 @ 7:41 am

      I’m so glad, Adria! Thanks for the feedback.

  12. Lori — August 5, 2012 @ 10:31 am

    These look so good! I just “discovered” them (when they were featured in Gojee’s Top Three email). I was looking for another excuse to stop by the farmers market and I am so happy to have it now! I need zucchini!

    I was wondering if you had an approximate measurement for how much shredded zucchini would be in 2 medium? I grew up with garden grown zucchini that Mom never picked before they were at least 18 inches long (no exaggeration, really) so the tiny things in grocery stores are so cute to me. I’m not really sure how much a normal “medium” zucchini would produce. haha

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 5th, 2012 @ 10:40 am

      Hi Lori — glad you found the site! 2 medium (grocery-store) zucchini would yield between 2-3 cups shredded zucchini.

  13. Kevin — August 5, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    Hi – Do you have to squeeze the zucchini of moisture after it is shredded? Thanks. Can’t wait to try this.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — August 5th, 2012 @ 11:11 am

      Nope, you don’t. I let mine rest on paper towels to sop up any extra moisture, but you don’t have to squeeze it.

  14. Pingback: Maggie Muses: Summer = Zucchini | re-souL rocks

  15. Pingback: Mondays, Maggie Muses: Summer = Zucchini | re-souL rocks

  16. Pingback: Fritada de abobrinha com ricota « chezbianca

  17. Pingback: Ricotta Zucchini Dinner Pancakes

Leave a Comment