Pressure Cooker Taco Pasta, Hamburger Helper Style

597This week I came upon some pressure cooking controversy. Yeah.  I couldn’t believe pressure cookers have controversy either but they do.  I was online looking for a pressure cooker pork loin recipe.  I found one I thought I could adapt to my liking and was reading through the comments to see what other people did with it when I came a cross a comment that said, ” I wish people who use pressure cookers would stop lying about how fast pressure cookers  get things done.  By the time the pressure cooker came up to pressure, cooked the food and released pressure I could have done this quicker on the stove top.” While this lady is a little harsh, she isn’t necessarily wrong but she isn’t entirely right either.

The lady is right when she states that the recipe could have been done in about the same time, if not a little quicker, on the stove top.  Recipes that are fairly quick on the stove aren’t necessarily going to be quicker in the pressure cooker.   I have tried several recipes I have adapted on  A Solitary Feast, and the pressure cooker doesn’t do many of them any faster then on the stove top.  Where the pressure cooker shines in these types of recipes, at least for me, is in its fix it and forget it ability.  I can just throw things in the pressure cooker and leave the kitchen.  This is with my electric pressure cooker.  I would not attempt this with a stove top pressure cooker which needs more attention to regulate the heat.  I like knowing the pressure cooker will switch to the keep warm setting when it is done. I can eat at my leisure.

Where the lady went a little overboard was in saying that pressure cooks were lying about how quickly things cooked  in the pressure cooker.  When I tried a BBQ chicken recipe in my in my pressure cooker that said it cooked in 12 minutes,  it wasn’t lying, it cooked in 12 minutes.  Once the pressure cooker comes to pressure it does take 12 minutes to cook.  The time it takes to get the pressure cooker to pressure isn’t included in the cooking time because so many things can affect that time.  It takes longer for the pressure cooker to come to pressure if you use frozen food, how full your pressure cooker is, how big the pieces of food are, what kind of pressure cooker you have and on and on.  This omission isn’t unusual in recipes.  Stove top recipes don’t include the time it takes for your oven to preheat or a pan to heat the oil to saute your aromatics. Prep times in general aren’t included because no cookbook author can know the cook’s knife skills, the condition of the cook’s equipment and the million other things that effect the time it takes to prep a recipe.  As you gain more and more experience with your pressure cooker you will be able to judge the total prep and cook time more exactly.   Where I think this lady went wrong was in having unrealistic expectations of what a pressure cooker actually does.

This is the first recipe I created that I cooked in my pressure cooker.  The idea behind the recipe was to have a homemade equivalent of Hamburger Helper, make it in one dish. I like to brown the hamburger before adding it to the pressure cooker line, my 2 quart pressure cooker doesn’t have a saute function,  so I can drain as much fat as possible.  It isn’t necessarily the fastest recipe or the recipe that will save you the most time in the pressure cooker but it is rather tasty.

Taco Pasta

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1 cup elbow macaroni

1 8 0z can tomato sauce

1 cup water

Brown the ground beef and onion on the stove until the ground beef is no longer pink.  Drain well.  Add the ground beef and remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker pot and gently stir to combine.  Lock the lid and set the pressure cooker for high pressure and 6 minutes.  When the pressure cooker is done, turn of the unit and let sit for 10 minutes to release the pressure.  When you remove the cover the hot dish will look a little soupy.  It will firm up a bit when it sits for a few minutes.  I added a sprinkling of cheddar cheese to my serving.


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