A while back I asked myself, “Does pressure cooking tenderize meat”? and this is what I found out.
The pressure will in fact make your meat super tender, almost as if you slow cooked it for the better part of a day.
You still have to figure out how long to cook it though so for that I invite you to read a little further.
But first check this out.
You can even use a pressure cooker to tenderize Octopus!
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best ways to ensure that you are getting the best possible, most tender results from your pressure cooker. The concepts are simple, but will make a world of difference to your cooking.
How Does Pressure Cooking Make Meat Tender?
Here is my summation of how a pressure cooker does what it does so efficiently.
The collagen in meat (the connective tissues) can sometimes be broken down (a little bit) by beating it with a mallet. In a slow cooker it is cooked at such a low temperature that it slowly melts away into a substance called gelatin. This is why it starts falling apart rather than acting as connective tissue. The pressure of the cooker however is able to cook the meat faster and still “melt” the collagen into gelatin. Without the pressure the higher temperature would just toughen up the collagen just like it does in a roast or seared piece of meat.
To learn more about collagen read on a tad; this is fascinating stuff.
Everyone Wants to Eat Tenderized Meat
One of the great concerns that all meat-eaters, all carnivores, all gastronomic enthusiasts share is one simple question: how can I make this more tender? It’s a timeless question, and one suspects that caveman sitting around his fire wrangled with the same concept many eons ago.
There are few things in life more satisfying than a perfectly cooked, juicy, and tender cut of meat. So how can your pressure cooker help you achieve this pinnacle of satisfaction, this zenith of existence?
Before looking at the best ways to ensure the most tender results every time you cook with meat in your pressure cooker, it’s important to understand what this elusive property we call ‘tenderness’ actually means.
What Happens to Meat When it is Tenderized?
As LiveStrong.com suggests, the tenderness of a piece of meat is dependent on several factors working together in a perfect harmony of texture, flavor, and pure, unbridled delight. Fair warning: if you prefer not to think too much about the origin of this meaty delight, skip over the next paragraph!
The key to tenderness lies in collagen. This is a structural protein found in the connective tissue of many animals, and has one important feature which aids in providing that texture we know and love. When heated up during the cooking process, it breaks down into gelatin which is a much more familiar food ingredient.
Depending on the cut of meat that you’re starting with, there will be more or less of this connective tissue available to break-down into gelatin. This is why some cuts are inherently more prone to becoming tender than others, and you should always take the advice of an in-store butcher as to which cut is the best choice for whatever type of meal or occasion you’re catering for.
All Cuts of Meat Can Become More Tender in a Pressure Cooker
But there’s more to tender meat than simply choosing a particular cut. As you’ll know, starting with great ingredients is a must, but how you treat them in the cooking process is also of paramount importance. It’s only be combining fantastic quality product with great cooking techniques that you’ll end up with the perfect, mouth-watering result that you’re looking for.
This is where a pressure cooker really starts to shine. Because of the high-pressure environment created inside the cooker, meat (like everything else you may want to throw into your pressure cooker) can cook extremely quickly relative to other methods. This means that you’re essentially able to accelerate the process of breaking-down those connective tissues into the gelatin that will make your meat succulent and tender as can be.
Of course, there is a slight danger of over-cooking because of how comparatively speedy the process is, but be sure to follow a well-known, high-quality recipe to the letter, and you’ll soon get the hang of what you’re doing. After just a few tries, you’ll be able to get it right every time, and it makes a world of difference.