Pressure Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Corned beef and cabbage in the pressure cooker seemed like a simple idea; instead, it was a comedy of errors. I could not get the details right. Here is the post-mortem of my attempts to get this right, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
Problem 1: Too salty.
Last year, I tried my usual “cut back the water in the pressure cooker” approach. I used 1 cup of water instead of covering the corned beef. The result was unbelievably salty. I could barely eat it. The rest of the family took one bite, then ignored the corned beef and filled up with soda bread, cabbage, and carrots. Discouraged, I put one serving of the salty corned beef and cabbage in a container and tossed the rest. The next day, the leftovers tasted fine – I guess sitting in the cabbage and juices for a day pulled enough salt out to make it edible.
Problem 2: Undercooked
This year, instead of winging it, I researched recipes. They all said to cover the corned beef with water. (Whoops.) Then I ran into my next hurdle. Most sources cook corned beef at high pressure for 45 minutes to an hour. They quick release the pressure, remove the corned beef, add the vegetables, and cook the vegetables at high pressure for five minutes. That way, the vegetables aren’t overcooked by the long cooking time under pressure.
“Great!” I thought to myself, “Corned beef in an hour!”
I should have known what was coming. Last year I followed Lorna Sass’s instructions, and cooked a two and a half pound corned beef for 70 minutes at high pressure. This year I had a monster – four and a half pounds. I checked the recipe book that came with my electric Cuisinart pressure cooker; it said I should cook said 24 minutes per pound. 108 minutes? Seriously? The Cuisinart’s timer only goes up to 99 minutes. Nah, it couldn’t possibly take that long.
I put the corned beef in the electric pressure cooker, set it for high pressure and fifty minutes. When it beeped, I quick released the pressure and filled the pot with potatoes, carrots and cabbage. The result looked great, the vegetables were perfectly cooked…but the corned beef? Way undercooked. My jaw got tired trying to chew through it. Once again, everyone else took one bite of the corned beef, then filled up on the sides.
I had to crack this. I couldn’t let corned beef beat me. I went back to the store and bought two smaller corned beef roasts, each three and a half pounds.
In case it was the lower pressure of the electric pressure cooker, I cooked one corned beef in my electric PC and the other in my stove top PC.
*Most electric pressure cookers have a high pressure setting of 12 PSI. stove top pressure cookers have a high pressure of 15 PSI.
I cooked both roasts for fifty minutes, quick released the pressure, and checked the corned beef. It wasn’t done. I kept cooking at high pressure, quick releasing every ten minutes and checking the corned beef, until it went from chewy to tender. The stove top pressure cooker took 80 minutes, and the electric PC took 90 minutes. Finally, success!
But, wow, eighty minutes? So much for corned beef in an hour. Still, an hour and a half (including the vegetables) was much better than the ten hours my usual slow cooker recipe takes. Need a corned beef in a hurry? Get a small one, add plenty of water, and do NOT under cook it.
*Don’t have a pressure cooker? Use a slow cooker. Recipe here: Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
Adapted From: Lorna Sass Pressure Perfect
- 3 pound corned beef with its spice packet
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 1 stalk celery, quartered crosswise
- Water to cover (about 4 cups)
- 1½ pounds redskin new potatoes
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths (or a 1 pound bag of baby carrots)
- 1 small (3 pound) cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
- Cook the corned beef: Rinse the corned beef. Put the corned beef, onion, and celery in the pressure cooker pot, sprinkle with the spice packet, then pour in enough water to cover the corned beef. Bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure and cook at high pressure for 80 minutes (stove top PC) or 90 minutes (electric PC). Quick release the pressure, then carefully remove the lid. Test the corned beef with a fork - it should be easy to poke a fork through the thickest section. If it's not done, lock the lid and cook for another ten minutes at high pressure. Once the corned beef is done, move it to a platter, leaving the onion and celery behind in the pressure cooker.
- Cook the vegetables: Add the potatoes to the pot, then the carrots on top of them, then lay the cabbage on top of the other vegetables. It's OK if the cabbage comes a bit above the "no fill" line on your cooker; there will still be a lot of airspace. Bring the cooker back up to pressure and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release the pressure again. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the platter with the corned beef.
- Serving: Pour the broth left in the pot into a gravy strainer. While the broth settles, slice the corned beef. Pour a little of the de-fatted broth over the platter of corned beef and vegetables. Serve, passing the rest of the broth at the table.
- Leftover corned beef and cabbage freezes well – as long as it is covered in broth.
- If you have the time, use a natural pressure release for the corned beef instead of the quick release. It’s almost impossible to overcook a corned beef, and my experience with undercooked corned beef has scarred me. I almost added an extra fifteen minutes of cooking time to this recipe, just in case.
- Watch out for extra-thick corned beef – you want a flat, even piece, three inches thick or so. If you get a thicker one, or a cut from the point end, give it an extra ten to fifteen minutes under pressure.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Other pressure cooker recipes that may break my will? Leave them in the comments section below.
Lorna Sass Pressure Perfect
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