The Explosive Flavors of The Pressure Cooker


For ages, a few smart cruisers have used a pressure cooker onboard their boats, but for many of us, a pressure cooker seems like more of a joke; a throwback to our mom’s or even our grandmother’s kitchen as kids.

We've all heard the stories of a pressure cooker exploding and spewing dinner far and wide, but things have really changed.

Pressure cookers now are virtually all stainless steel construction with much better pressure valves and far better cooking control.

We have to note though, like any pot, you cannot boil a pressure cooker dry with out significant damage. You always need liquid in the pot and it is the steam pressure that drives your "liquid" into the food for fast cooking and explosive flavors.

The Galley Guys wanted to check out modern pressure cookers. So, we went to our cookbook, checked out the recipes and then invested in a new pressure cooker. Of course, before we actually took it out to the boat, we tried it out at home. Yes, we accidentally turned the lid mounted pressure control a step past the correct stop to the "zero" setting, which sent up a geyser of steam, de-pressurizing the cooker in seconds!

There was no damage though and nothing but steam escaped. Hey — with the Galley Guys it’s no problem!

Adams Ribs

The personal favourite of Andy Adams, one of the Galley Guys is barbecued spare ribs. The thought of tender, pressure cooker ribs was what started this adventure off. So, getting together with fellow Galley Guy Greg Nicoll in the spacious and well-equipped galley onboard Cynergy, the Angus Yachts and Canadian Yachting special events boat, we tried out the new pressure cooker.

Normally, ribs are awful when they're done in a barbecue only. The high fat content is really too much for our sophisticated palates and the meat winds up still rubbery and tough, long after the sauce has been blackened beyond recognition. That's where the pressure cooker comes in.

Using the pressure cooker, we pre-cook the ribs, which drives off much of the fat and drives our "liquid" into the food, tenderizing the meat so that it is lean, soft and ready to almost fall off the bone.

Getting Started

We need the following items to get started:
• the new pressure cooker
• kitchen tongs
• stainless steel bowls
• microwave bowls
• our big kitchen knife
• our portable SiTex barbecue
• a handy carrying pack of disposable propane gas canisters
• and a sense of adventure

We warmed up our Si-Tex barbecue, put our ribs on at low heat and brushed on more barbecue sauce, turning the ribs every few minutes so they were evenly coated and not burned.

In the microwave onboard Cynergy, we partially cooked our cobs of corn, adding those to the barbecue and brushing on a bit of light garlic butter.

While the barbecue was finishing off the other the ribs and the corn, we rinsed out our stainless steel pressure cooker pot and used it to heat up our pork and beans.

Using only one pot and the barbecue, all three menu items were ready at the right moment and the Galley Guys sat down to dine, topping things off with a wonderful glass of Banrock Station Australian Shiraz.

This may not seem like gourmet fare to you, but a plate of succulent barbecued ribs sends us straight to heaven. The corn and beans were tasty and simple partners to the rich and meaty rims. Frankly, the Banrock Station Shiraz was perhaps too good for the meal, but that was just fine with us!

It's easy to keep a few cans of pork and beans onboard and as much as they seem basic, simple and inexpensive, you'd be surprised at how many people love pork and beans. When you pull into port, especially during the summer, it's easy to find fresh corn on the cob and the butcher almost always has a rack of ribs you can get. As long as you have a pressure cooker, you can make them as tender as the best you can get from any restaurant and what could be better than being on your boat to enjoy the explosive flavours of pressure cooked ribs!

Adams Barbecued Ribs
• 2 pounds of pork back ribs
• Commercial barbecue sauce [or better yet, my own homemade sauce]
• Salt and pepper
• Two buds of fresh garlic, chopped
• 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
• 1 ½ cups of our "liquid" — water, wine or beer all work

We began by cutting the ribs into pieces about 5 inches long or three to five ribs so they fit into the pressure cooker. We season the raw ribs with salt and pepper and then set them aside while we prepared our "liquid".

We freely confess that we read the instructions that came with our new pressure cooker to make sure we were adding the right quantity of liquid to ensure it didn't boil dry.

In a steel bowl, whisk together the chopped garlic, Worcestershire sauce, a cup of water and a half-cup of beer. This we set aside for a moment.

We put the pressure cooker rack in the bottom of the pot that raises the bowl out of the liquid and then put the basket inside (both came with the pressure cooker). We carefully arrange our racks of ribs in the basket, and then pour our "liquid" over top of the ribs and into the bottom of the pressure cooker.

The particular pressure cooker we bought had a steam control with a setting for meat and a lower setting for vegetables and fish. We used the meat setting and carefully secured the lid to the pressure cooker.

Turning on the heat, we timed 20 minutes, starting with high heat until the pressure indicator came on and wisps of steam began to appear. Then, we dropped it down to medium heat until the time was up. We turned the heat off, moved the pressure valve to the slow release setting and when the pressure indicator dropped down, we were safe to open the pot and remove our ribs.

From there, the secret to really great ribs is to brush on some of your barbecue sauce, then refrigerate the ribs for two or three hours at a minimum. We left ours overnight.

Technically, the ribs are cooked and only have to be reheated on the barbecue to be served.

By Andy Adams and Greg Nicoll

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