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Got An Hour? Then You Have Time To Make Chili In a Pressure Cooker

I have been having more adventures with my Instant Pot this week - this chili, a tomato based meat sauce for pasta and another chicken and lentil stew.

Adapting my recipes to work in the pressure cooker requires a bit of math, a lot of research, a few hail Marys while throwing salt over both shoulders and an Om Shanti Shanti just to make sure my bases are covered, but I am finally starting to get it. I keep reading that pressure cooking is not intuitive cooking and I couldn't agree more so this is the one cooking method that is going to require constant reference to cooking charts until you really get the hang of it, no matter how accomplished you are in the kitchen. Pressure cooking has been a humbling experience but an exciting one at the same time, kind of like my reoccurring dream where I get married to Ryan Gosling.

Okay, regarding the half hour chili in the title. If you use canned beans, you could cook it for more like between 15 and 20 minutes at high pressure so you can totally have chili in half an hour, but for this batch, I wanted to use dried beans. What's the point of cooking chili in a pressure cooker if I am not going to take advantage of quick cooking beans? It is the Year of the Pulse and I have pledged to incorporate more pulses into our diet this year, which isn't really a problem since we do eat lots of beans and lentils already but the pressure cooker means that I will have no excuses to rely so heavily on canned.

So, after a couple of kicks at the can, I finally settled on the correct ratio of liquid to solids that resulted in a really nice consistency, perfectly cooked beans and great flavour, all in under and hour! I have been told that you could even skip the quick soak for the beans but you are not really saving any time since you would have to add to the cooking time anyway.

I am not reinventing the wheel here. This is a straight up, simple chili and you can always adjust seasonings to your taste. Make it spicier, add more cumin or chipotle, replace the beer with more chicken stock or tomato juice, leave the oregano out - the spicing, in the end, is always up to you. One thing I will say is that the addition of the mushrooms adds to the liquid ratios so be careful if you are leaving them out. You know what? Even if you think you hate mushrooms, use them. You can't taste them, they make the chili go farther and make it healthier and cheaper since you use less meat and they don't affect the texture one bit. Honestly, unless you are deathly allergic to mushrooms, just put them in there and keep it to yourself.

The recipe for the meat sauce will be coming soon as it still needs a tiny tweak - you have to be careful when pressure cooker sauces that are thick, that contain sugar heavy ingredients (like commercial tomato sauces etc) and I am about 90% there with the sauce recipe, so stay tuned for that one.
Oh, and if you are new to all of this pressure cooking, so far, this is my favourite book for the basics:

Pressure Cooker Beef Chili

makes approximately 8 cups

To Quick Soak the Beans:
1/2 cup dried black beans
1/2 cup dried kidney beans
4 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt

rinse the beans, put them in the pot with 4 cups of water and a tsp of salt, close the lid (making sure the valve is turned to seal) and hit manual - program it for 2 minutes. When it's done, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then slowly start to release the steam. If anything other than steam comes out, give it another minute and try again. Pour the beans in a strainer and give them a rinse and set aside.

*1 cup of dried beans will give you about 3 cups of beans in total when the dish is finished


3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
600 grams of white mushrooms, pulsed in the food processor or very finely chopped
500 grams ground beef
*the soaked and drained beans
1/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup beer
1 800ml can diced tomatoes
2 tbls cumin
2-3 tbls chili powder
1 canned chipotle chili in adobo, chopped (or to taste)
1/2 tsp smoke paprika
2 tsp mexican oregano
small handful of cilantro, chopped
pinch kosher salt

*if using canned beans, use 1 15oz or can of each kind


Turn the pot to saute and when it's hot, add the bacon. Saute the bacon until it starts to brown and get a bit crispy and then throw in the onion, garlic and celery. Saute for about 3 minutes to soften before adding in the finely chopped mushrooms. Give it a good stir and then add in the ground beef and continue to saute, stirring constantly, until there is no more pink left in the meat.

Pour in the stock, beer, beans and the diced tomatoes with all of the juice. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, chipotle chili, smoked paprika, oregano and cilantro and a pinch of salt. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Bring to a simmer and as soon as you see it start to bubble, lock the lid on (making sure the valve is turned to sealing) and turn off the saute. Hit the chili button and let it cook (30 minutes) and let the pressure release naturally (or at least for 10 to 15 minutes) before you open the lid. If it seems a bit too thin, hit off and then hit saute and bring it to a boil for a few minutes, stirring often, until it thickens up a bit.

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