Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pressure Cooker Ribs

Ribs should only be cooked on a smoker. Anything else is blasphemous. But, being an engineer and a slave to scientific method, I am compelled to resort to something resembling an empirical exercise.

I received a pressure cooker for Christmas from Rose and it is categorically awesome. If you cook and don’t yet have a pressure cooker, you seriously owe it to yourself to get one. Bigger is mostly better.

For the first part of my experiment, I decided to step far outside my usual method. This round was two racks of baby back ribs, to be finished with an Asian glaze.

First I remove the back membrane from the ribs. Sorry, no picture. Then I liberally doused with kosher salt and pepper, and put under the broiler until nicely seared.

Then I sliced the ribs into sections of three to four bones. Into the pressure cooker they went, with the trivet and basket keeping them well out of the water. An 8-quart cooker fits two racks of baby back ribs perfectly.

If you boil your ribs, STOP! You seriously don’t deserve ribs if you boil them. Step away from the ribs and go buy the pre-cooked crap in the meat department at your big name chain grocery whore. Why? Many of the flavors of meat are water soluble (beef/pork/chicken broth, anyone?). By boiling your ribs, you leave the meat flavor in the water. And if someone offers you boiled ribs, you know they are a total amateur, meat-wrecking douchebag.

The ribs pressure cooked for 40 minutes. I did a quick steam release, but not cold water release. Whoa.

The ribs were completely fall-off-the-bone, yet still very meaty tasting. No boiling effect. The “water” level rose in the pot a little bit, and the ribs that were in the broth were noticeably lacking in taste. Starting water level is definitely a concern, then.

I then glazed the ribs with a mixture of:

  • Sesame oil
  • Minced onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Molasses
  • Five spice
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Cayenne pepper (copious volumes thereof)
  • Miso

Sorry I don’t have proportions. But I have found that if I taste the mixture and it tastes very strong, yet good, it will be a good glaze. So there.

I brushed the ribs with glaze, sprinkled with a little brown sugar, and put under the broiler. When the ribs started to bubble, I brushed them and sprinkled again, and broiled them until the glaze caramelized.

Totally perfect.


  1. Check your pressure cooker's minimum liquid requirement and use that - because as you found out the meat will also release it's own juices. Just eyeballing your pressure cooker I would say that you could get away with 1 cup of liquid but check your manual to make sure.

    And don't throw that liquid away! Use it in soup, risotto or anywhere you need stock!



  2. hi Laura,

    Thanks for commenting! I double-checked the instructions and it looks like a one-cup minimum. I'm still getting the hand of things and need to experiment a lot more. I definitely save the stocks for using in other dishes.

    And I love your site!

  3. A representative of French household goods manufacturer SEB claims to have sold thousands of pressure cookers to the country’s nuclear industry. Melissa