Meatballs w/ Orzo, Tomatoes, and Artichokes
Makes: 12 meatballs
Time: 5-8 minutes
Meatballs make a fantastic appetizer. They’re easy, a crowd-pleaser, and go with all kinds of sauces or dips, like barbeque sauces, mustards, jelly sauces, and so on. This recipe is deliciously Italian, with fresh flavors coming from tomatoes, artichokes, and fresh herbs like oregano and dill. I also like making these for a light-ish meal if there’s just four people, on a bed of wilted spinach and finished off with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. For a fuller meal, serve with pasta!
First, it’s time to go shopping. You’ll need ground beef, orzo pasta, canned tomatoes, olive oil, an egg, minced garlic, frozen artichokes, and a beautiful assortment of herbs like oregano, basil leaves, dill, and bright lemon zest. I’ve had trouble finding frozen artichoke hearts sometimes, so I’ve used ones in cans or jars instead. Since these are mushier than the frozen ones, you’ll only want to cut them into halves, not quarters, so they don’t fall apart as much under pressure. Orzo pasta, which is like rice, is most commonly used in soups or casseroles, but in this recipe, it’s used as a way to bind the meatballs together.
Once all your ingredients are gathered together, mix the beef, shallot, dill, orzo, garlic, egg, and lemon zest together in a big bowl. I just use my hands. Be sure to be generous with the herbs. Herbs are delicate ingredients, and fresh ones often lose some of their flavor in the pressure cooker. Once mixed, form 12 meatballs between your palms. Make sure they’re all around the same size, so they cook evenly. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into your pressure cooker. This is enough to coat the bottom of the cooker, but not enough to accidentally fry the meatballs. If you’re using a stovetop cooker, turning the burner to medium-high is a good temperature. For those of you with an electric cooker, select the “sauté” or “brown” setting. You don’t have to close the cooker for this part.
When the olive oil is glistening and hot, put in the meatballs. For most cookers, you’ll need to cook the meatballs in batches. Put in enough meatballs so they’re just touching each other, but aren’t overlapping. Brown for a few minutes on all sides, which should take about 4-5 minutes total. When the meat is no longer pink, take out the meatballs and put on a plate with a rimmed edge to catch any juices. Repeat the browning process with the rest of the meatballs. Put all the meatballs on the plate, so you can start making the sauce.
Open up the tomatoes and pour them into the cooker, which should still be on the “brown” setting. Add the wine, artichokes, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. With this liquid, stir a wooden spoon around so you pick up any dried-on brown bits. If you aren’t familiar with cooking terms, this is called deglazing, and it’s an awesome way to add deep layers of flavor you would ordinarily only get from a much-longer cooking time. If you’re going to serve with pasta, now is a good time to start boiling water, since once the meatballs are locked in the pressure cooker, they’re done very quickly.
When the sauce is mixed and simmering, put all the meatballs back in the cooker, along with any juices. Close up the pressure cooker lid, making sure it’s locked in place.
For stovetop cookers:
Close up the lid and turn the burner to medium-high. Wait until the pressure valve shows that the cooker has reached high pressure, which is 15 PSI for most stovetop cookers. Then, start counting, so 5 minutes pass. When time is up, turn off the burner, and move it to a cold burner, so it doesn’t try returning to pressure. Open the steam valve, which your face away from the cooker, so the hot steam doesn’t burn you. When the pressure has gone down, you can open the cooker.
For electric cookers:
Secure the lid and select the “high pressure” setting on the touchpad. For time, the meatballs will need 8 minutes. Leave the cooker and do something else for that time. When you hear the timer, open the steam valve, being sure to turn your face away. When the pressure is reduced all the way, open the pot.
When the pot is opened, stir the contents of the cooker. If you have pasta, drain and put in a bowl. Pour the sauce and meatballs over the noodles. Using tongs, toss to evenly coat.
- 1 ½ pounds of lean ground beef
- ½ cup dried orzo
- ½ cup rosé wine
- ¼ cup loosely-packed minced fresh basil leaves
- One, 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (3 ½ cups)
- One, 9-ounce box frozen artichoke heart cut into quarters
- 1 medium-sized peeled and shredded shallot (large holes of box grater)
- 1 room temperature egg (big)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons loosely-packed, minced fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons finely-grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
1. Mix the ground beef, shallot, dill, lemon zest, orzo, garlic, and egg in a big bowl.
2. Using your hands, mold into 12 meatballs.
3. In your pressure cooker, pour in the oil.
4. Heat over medium-heat or the “brown” setting on an electric cooker.
5. When hot, arrange the meatballs in the cooker, so they aren’t crowded. You’ll probably have to do two batches.
6. Cook and turn, so all the sides turn brown.
7. Plate the meatballs for now.
8. Pour in the wine, tomatoes, artichokes, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
9. Deglaze the pot.
10. Put the meatballs back into the cooker, along with any juice that might have seeped onto the plate.
11. Close the pressure cooker lid and secure it.
12. If you’re using a stovetop cooker, turn the burner up so the cooker gets to high pressure (15 PSI).
13. Maintain for 5 minutes.
14. If you’re using an electric cooker, set the cooker to the “high” setting for 8 minutes.
15. When time is up, use a quick-release to reduce the pressure. Be sure to turn your face away from the valve.
16. Open the pot.
17. Stir before serving.
Total Calories: 584
Tuscan-Style Beef Stew
Tuscan-Style Beef Stew w/ Pancetta + Prunes
Time: About an hour
During the colder months, there’s nothing quite like a hot beef stew to warm the body and soul. This Tuscan-style stew is traditionally made with veal, but beef is better, because it maintains more of its flavor in the pressure cooker. It’s also more affordable. Instead of beef broth, I like to use chicken stock, because it’s a bit lighter and gives the stew a silkier finish that lets the other ingredients (like the pancetta, prunes, and pearl onions) shine. You’ll notice that I use dried mushrooms: dried mushrooms hold flavor better than fresh ones.
When you’ve assembled your ingredients, prepare the meat. This just involves cutting the beef chunk into 2-inch pieces and dicing up the pancetta. Pancetta is basically just Italian bacon. It’s very salty and often seasoned with spices like nutmeg, in addition to black pepper. When mixed with soft, chewy prunes, you get a mouthwatering salty-sweet combo.
When the meat is cut up, take out a bowl. Pour in 1 cup of broth if you’re using a stove top cooker and ⅔ a cup if you’re using an electric cooker. Stove top cookers tend to evaporate a tad more liquid than electric ones. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour into the broth until it’s all dissolved. You will pour this into the cooker at a later time. For now, put 1 tablespoon of butter into your cooker and turn it to the “sauté” setting for electric cookers, or medium-high heat for the stove top. The butter will melt quickly, so be ready with the diced pancetta. Toss in the pancetta and stir, letting the meat cook for about 6 minutes.
Take out the pancetta when it’s become crispy and sizzling, and move it to a plate. Now it’s time for the beef. Put the chunks and brown for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally, so it gets brown all over. Put the pancetta back into the cooker with the herbs and prunes. Pour in the broth bowl from earlier, and close the lid.
For stovetop cookers:
Keep the burner on medium-high and wait for the pressure valve to show that it has reached 15 PSI. Set a timer for 25 minutes and maintain that pressure. When time is up, carefully move the cooker to a cold burner and wait for the pressure to reduce naturally. After 25 minutes, quick-release any leftover pressure.
For electric cookers:
Set the cooker to the “high pressure” setting for 40 minutes. Busy yourself for that time. When it’s ready, unplug the cooker and wait 25 minutes or so for the pressure to come down on its own. If there’s still pressure left, quick-release.
Open the pressure cooker. The stew should be bubbling, fragrant, and ready to eat! Stir to blend all the flavors before ladling out servings.
- 2 pounds boneless beef chunk, cut in 2-inch pieces
- One, 4-ounce diced pancetta chunk
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup/6-ounces of frozen pearl onions
- 12 pitted prunes
- 2 tablespoons minced, loosely-packed fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon minced, loosely-packed fresh rosemary leaves
Total Calories: 669
Veal Roast w/ Cream, Pancetta, and Orange
Time: 50-75 minutes
When I have dinner parties or it’s a special occasion, I love to serve something like this veal roast. The meat is buttery-tender with an addicting sauce made from cream, butter, vermouth, and flavored with orange. The Italian flavors come from salty pancetta, fresh herbs, and of course, garlic.
I like to prepare all the ingredients first, so the cooking process is efficient. Tie your roast, chop the pancetta and onions, mince the herbs, and squeeze and zest the orange. Use a fine-mesh strainer when you’re squeezing, so you get out all the pulp. To tie your piece of veal, you basically want to turn the meat into a ball. Think of it like rolling a sleeping bag, and tying the folds together with butcher twine. If you aren’t sure of what you’re doing, you can also ask the butcher to tie it when you buy the roast.
When everything is prepped, you’ll start by cooking the pancetta. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in your pressure cooker on medium-high heat, or the “brown” setting on your electric cooker. Add the pancetta and stir, until the meat becomes crispy. Move to a bowl and add the tied veal shoulder. You are browning the roast before actually cooking it, to give it a richer flavor. Cook for 6-8 minutes, turning the roast occasionally, so it browns all over. When that’s done, put it in the bowl with the meat. It’s time for the aromatics!
Toss in the chopped onions and cook until they become soft. Next, add the zest, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. It should only take about a minute for the herbs to become fragrant. Now you’ll want to pour in the vermouth. If you’re using a stovetop cooker, pour in ¾ cup. For electric cookers, ½ cup is enough. Deglaze the pot with this liquid, which basically means stirring with a wooden spoon to mix in any browned bits of meat that might be stuck to the pot. In a separate bowl, mix the orange juice with the flour. This is your thickening agent. When the mixture is smooth, pour into the cooker and stir everything together.
Time to cook everything! Put the pancetta and roast back into the cooker and close the lid.
For a stovetop cooker:
Turn the burner up to medium-high. Watch the pressure valve and when it hits 15 PSI, or full pressure, set your timer for 50 minutes. Keep an eye on the stove, so 15 PSI is maintained the whole time. When time is up, carefully move the cooker (using oven mitts) to a cold burner. Wait for the pressure to go down naturally. If there’s pressure left after 25 minutes, quick-release the rest.
For electric cookers:
Set the cooker to “high pressure” for 75 minutes. When time is up, unplug the cooker and wait for the pressure to go down. After 25 minutes, quick-release any leftover pressure.
Open the pot and carefully take out the veal shoulder. Place on a cutting board to rest for a few minutes. While that rests up, pick out the bay leaf from the cooker. Using a spoon, skim a layer of fat off the sauce. Return the stovetop cooker to the warm burner. Turn the burner to medium-high. If using one, plug your electric cooker back in and turn on the “browning” setting again. Let the sauce boil, so it reduces. When it has reduced by half, pour in the heavy cream and chives. Keep stirring and letting the sauce boil for another 2 minutes. Almost done! Cut the twine off the veal roast and slice into ½-inch pieces. Serve in bowls with lots of sauce ladled on top!
- 2 ½ pounds of veal shoulder, tied with butcher’s twine
- One, 4-ounce chunk of chopped pancetta
- 2 chopped medium yellow onions
- ¾ cup dry vermouth
- ½ cup pulp-free fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons stemmed thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 bay leaf
Total Calories: 526