Sunday, March 9, 2014

Beef and Barley Soup in the Pressure Cooker

So the first thing I decided to make with my new pressure cooker the day after I put it together and washed it was beef barley soup that normally takes all afternoon because I have to brown the beef and then simmer it for a few hours till tender, etc. It also involves pre-cooking the pearl barley for about 45 minutes and adding it to the meat. I still needed to cook the barley first so following the instructions I put 1/2 cup of pearl barley into a small stainless steel bowl with about 1 3/4 cups water (the directions called for 1 cup barely and 2 cups of water but as I didn't need 4 cups of cooked barley I used less and as I didn't know if the 1 to 2 ratio would be consistent when changing the amount I used a little more water to play it safe) and then covered the bowl with aluminum foil.
I placed the bowl onto the metal trivet in the center of the pot and added 2 cups of water to the pot secured the lid and turned the burner on high.
 It took a few minutes for the water to steam which after a few more minutes of hissing out of the pressure release valve in the handle which closed up when 15 psi was achieved. Then the rocker in the center of the pan started rocking and chugging a little to vigorously releasing lots of steam so I moved it from my highest output burner to the medium one and got a better, slower rocking on the lowest setting. I set the timer for 10 minutes (said 9-12 though oddly, on line everywhere it says 18-20 minutes for pearl barley) and waited. After 10 minutes I turned it off and let the pot cool down on it's own while walking the dogs. The walk took about 15 minutes and when I got back I saw the pressure relief valve had dropped and it was safe to open the cooker.

It turned out there was a little too much water left so I strained it and this is what the barely looked like. It was also nicely cooked with just a bit of a chewy bite to it still which was fine as it would be added to the finished meat and vegetables at the end of the its cooking.
Next was the meat part for which I used a couple T-bone steaks that I have never had much success with cooking as steaks. I cut them up into 1 inch pieces, browned them in a little oil in the pot, removed it, then sauteed half an onion or so, threw the meat back in along with a chopped carrot and numerous other spices, added water and beef broth, put the lid back on, got the pot up to pressure and cooked for 12 minutes (according to the Presto directions for beef stew.) Then I threw the barley in, adjusted seasonings and there it was, beef and barley stew in under an hour.
Unfortunately, I did this all in the morning but we didn't eat dinner till 5 so we had to wait 5 hours to eat it. I think that was fine though as it allowed the barley to meld with the broth. It was very tasty.

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