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Pressure Cooker Pot Roast … The Merlin Menu way!


My Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker.


 I am just loving the newest addition to my kitchen repertoire … an electric pressure cooker!   Ron Merlin of the blog The Merlin Menu  inspired me to overcome my fears of this  (I thought) “dangerous” cooking method.   (Click over to his blog … he has a great giveaway!  Entries open til April 25th.)  Never in a million years would I have envisioned myself loving this style of cooking.   Maybe it’s the “tramatic” childhood memories of my Mother using one and telling us we could not play in the kitchen or run or jump because we might disturb the little metal thingie bouncing on top of the pressure cooker and cause the house to blow up.  Mom, if you’re reading this and shaking your head in disbelief at the story I am telling,  just ask Denise (my sister), she remembers the same thing!  

Pressure cookers have a brand new image and are sleek, modern and safe.  Reading the directions before firing up this appliance, in my opinion, is critical to understanding how to properly and safely use your pressure cooker.  You will have a better understanding of just how your cooker works, maximum limits for different foods and why it is crucial to have the right amount of liquid in the cooker at all times. 

As Ron said … Today, we are tackling an American Sunday staple … the Pot Roast.  Generally a cheaper cut of meat is used and it requires a long cooking time to break down and tenderize.  

For my pressure cooker meal I used a 3 pound chuck roast.  (3 pounds is the maximum recommended for my cooker – read the directions)  I was able to sear the meat in the cooker, remove it and set to sauté for the onions.  I’m all about less dishes to wash!  In FORTY-FIVE minutes you will have a tender, juicy roast with perfectly cooked vegetables, not to mention some of the best gravy you’ve ever had.  

Some of the best pot roast I have ever made.

Pressure Cooker Pot Roast
adapted from a recipe of Ron Merlin
The Merlin Menu 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1     3 lb chuck roast
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
1 package brown gravy mix
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 package Italian dressing mix
1 can beef broth
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 beef bouillon cube
salt and pepper to taste
12 small red potatoes, halved
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves

 Turn heat under Pressure Cooker to medium and add olive oil. Sprinkle roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Place into cooker and brown all over, about 5 minutes per side.

Add onion, gravy mix, ranch dressing mix and Italian mix , beef broth, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and beef bouillon cube all over the roast in the cooker. No need to stir, the pressure cooker will distribute everything just fine. Turn heat to high, let liquids come to a boil, and then seal the pressure cooker. Wait until a steady stream of steam is being emitted, and immediately turn to medium low, and begin timing 30 minutes from this point.

 After 30 minutes of a steady stream of steam from the cooker, remove from heat and run cold water over the cooker until pressure recedes. Open cooker, and add bay leaves, carrots and potatoes to the liquid surrounding the roast.

 Place cooker back on stove and bring to high heat and a boil. Seal cooker with cover, wait until it’s emitting a steady stream of steam, turn to medium low and time for 15 more minutes to continue cooking the roast and cooking the carrots and potatoes perfectly.

 After 15 minutes, remove from heat, and let cool down naturally. Remove cover.

 If the “gravy” is too thin, remove the roast and vegetables, and stir in 2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water,  over medium heat until gravy thickens.   Let roast rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes, and slice and serve with potatoes, carrots and gravy.

 Note from Debbie:  Ron cooks with a stove-top pressure cooker … mine is electric.   Both types produce a wonderful end result.  I love some of the special features on my electric pressure cooker:  automatically starts the timing when the pressure is reached, can sear and sauté right in the unit and when the pre-set cook time is reached it automatically turns the unit to the warm holding temperature.  I found it very easy to adapt the stove-top cooker directions to my electric one.  

Sear the meat in the pressure cooker.

Looks good ... has a nice sear. Now in to the onions.

Set the pressure cooker to "saute" and add the onions.

To the onions add broth, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and bouillon cube.

Add the dry gravy, ranch and Italian dressing mixes. I took Ron at his word and resisted the urge to stir everything together! Add the roast back to the pot and fire up the pressure cooker.

The result ... a "fall-apart" tender, juicy roast.

Roast Prime Rib of Beef

Roast Prime Rib of Beef


Some years back my Father “out-lawed” turkey on the Christmas day dinner table.  He tolerated it at Thanksgiving, but that was about all he could take.  So, prime rib became our special treat at Christmas, compliments of Dad.  Christmas morning you would find him preparing to load the prime rib into his “set it and forget it” machine!  It was perfect every time.  Sadly, we lost my Father just before the holidays last year and I have eagerly taken on the job of roasting the prime rib. 

When purchasing your prime rib, have a conversation with your butcher!  Let them know your plans and the number of people you will be serving.  Our Gardner Price Chopper has one of the most friendly and knowledgeable meat departments I have ever dealt with.  I consider them “my butcher” and quite regularly take advantage of their expertise.  I requested a 10 pound, bone-in prime rib (bones are the key to great flavor).  “My butcher” indicated that they could cut the meat from the bone and tie it back onto the bone for roasting.  Wow … one less step for me and no extra charge.  

My butcher had this prime rib trimmed and tied ... saved me some time!

To satisfy government home economists, the Beef council tells us that rare beef means an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.  Well, that is if you like well done and very dry meat.  If you like moist, rosy meat (yes I do), rare begins at 120 degrees F and starts to become medium rare at 125 to 130 degrees F.  

This chart is only a guide  … you need to use an accurate meat thermometer and start taking the temperatures one half hour before the end of the estimated roasting time. 

  Approximate Weight Oven Temperature Total Estimated Time Only Meat Thermometer Reading (Rare)
2 ribs 4  to 5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 60 to 70 minutes 120 degrees F 
3 ribs 7 to 8.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours 120 degrees F 
4 ribs 9 to 10.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours 120 degrees F 
5 ribs 11 to 13.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours 120 degrees F 
6 ribs 14 to 16 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 3 to 3 1/4 hours 120 degrees F 
7 ribs 16 to 18.5 pounds 450 deg/325 deg F 3 1/4 to 4 hours 120 degrees F


Beef Roast Cooking Temperatures
Rare 120 to 125 degrees F center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion
Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees F center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion
Medium 140 to 145 degrees F center is light pink, outer portion is brown
Medium Well 150 to 155 degrees F not pink
Well Done 160 degrees F and above steak is uniformly brown throughout

I got a lot of great information and the charts from a wonderful site ….
What’s Cooking  America

Room Temperature:  To cook evenly, the roast must not be cold – let it stand at room temperature, loosely covered, for about 2 hours.  If you do not let the roast come to room temperature it will not cook evenly and you’ll end up with well-done slices on the ends and raw meat in the center.  

Seasoning:  In a zip lock bag mix together the following:  5 cloves of garlic chopped, ½ cup of prepared horseradish, ½ cup of course salt, ¼ cup of ground black pepper and ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Massage this mixture generously over the entire roast.  (I do this when I first take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature.)

Ready to roast!

Roasting: Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place the roast, ribs down, in a roasting pan. The rib bones are a natural rack; you won’t need a metal one.

Sear the rib roast for 15 minutes at the higher oven temperature (450 degrees F.), then turn the oven to the lower temperature (325 degrees F.) for the rest of the cooking time.

About 1/2 hour before the estimated end of the roasting time, begin checking the internal temperature (use a good instant-read digital meat thermometer). Internal temperature, not time, is the best test for doneness.  Insert your meat thermometer so the tip is in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat or touching bone. Remember, the rib roast will continue to cook as it sets.  I wanted medium prime rib so I took the roast out of the oven when the temperature reached 135 degrees.  I let it set 30 minutes (while my popovers were baking) and the temperature rose to 142 degrees.  So, pay attention to how long you let the cooked prime rib roast sit in relation to your desired level of doneness.

Cooked perfectly to medium -- center light pink and outer portion is brown.