Posted by: lornasass | December 9, 2011


While developing the recipes for PRESSURE PERFECT, I experimented with a technique I came to call Triplex Cooking.  It’s a kind of layered cooking that enables you to make three different foods at once. You’ll need a 6-quart or larger cooker, and this this technique has all sorts of applications for making a whole meal at once–you’ll find some more ideas in the book.

Take, for example, the recipe for meatloaf with smashed potatoes and carrots below.  Meatloaf in a pressure cooker?  I was as surprised as you probably are, but it turns out to be a quick-and-easy success. “Amazing,” said the meatloaf maven who came to dinner. “It doesn’t look or taste steamed.”

But steamed it is, in the cooker’s vegetable basket–or use a bamboo or standard collapsible steaming basket instead.  Rather than setting the basket on a trivet, balance it on some chunked potatoes.  Then wrap carrots in an aluminum foil packet and set the packet on top of the meatloaf.  The foil packet retards the cooking, and the carrots steam in their own minimal moisture, ending up with intense flavor.  You can mash them with the potatoes are serve them separately in chunks.

After cooking, remove the foil packet and slice the carrots. Lift out the meatloaf and then tip out some of the liquid and smash the potatoes with some cheese.  The whole meal made in one pot in ten minutes under pressure: It’s as simple as that.

So, maybe you can’t afford a triplex co-op or a three story house, but if you own a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker, you can do triplex cooing.  Ha!

Meatloaf with Cheddar Smashed Potatoes

Serves 6

10 minutes high pressure

Cooking spray or oil for preparing steaming basket
2 large eggs
1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mixture or 8 ounces each ground beef, veal, and pork
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
1/2 cup catsup or chili sauce plus 1 to 2 tablespoons additional to coat top of meatloaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish

5 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed, and trimmed (leave them whole)

For the Cheddar-Smashed Potatoes
3 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed or peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups loosely packed (about 4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk, plus more to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Coat the bottom and sides of the steaming basket lightly with  cooking spray or oil.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Add the ground meat, onions, parsley, oats, catsup, salt, garlic, and pepper. Mix with your
hands until blended. (The mixture may be fairly moist.)

Transfer to the steaming basket and press into a disc of uniform thickness.  (If your steaming basket has a central lifting pole, either  remove it or shape the loaf around it.) Spread a very thin coating of catsup on top.

Pour 2 cups of water into a 6-quart or larger cooker.  Place the potatoes in the water. Set the steaming basket with the meatloaf on top of the potatoes.  Wrap the carrots tightly in foil and set them on top of the meatloaf.

Lock the lid in place.  Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.

Use tongs to lift the foil-wrapped carrots.  Check the meatloaf for doneness: an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 155 degrees. If the meatloaf requires more cooking, nestle (but do not lock) the lid in place and steam over high heat for another few minutes.

Lift the meatloaf basket from the cooker, garnish with parsley, and let rest in the basket for at least 5 minutes before slicing.  Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes: Drain the potatoes and return them to the empty cooker.  Set over very low heat. Add the cheese and milk. Use a masher to coarsely smash the potatoes. For a moister mixture, stir in additional milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Unwrap and slice the carrots.

To serve, either unmold the meatloaf or slice it right in the basket. Serve the Cheddar-Smashed Potatoes and carrots alongside.



  1. Hi Lorna,

    Have you ever experimented using inserts like these:

    I find that I have hit-and-miss results because there is extra time that must be added but the actual percentage of time isn’t clear.

    The meatloaf looks great I’m going to try it.

    Thanks, Nathan

    • Hi Nathan: these insets are precisely what I’m thinking of when I use the term “steaming basket.” When you use them to raise vegetables or other ingredients above the water (rather than cooking the vegetables directly in the water), you do need to add a few more minutes. I agree with you that there is no firm rule, but I’d add 2-3 extra minutes for a start, especially when cooking dense foods like potatoes and beets. Happy cooking!

  2. Love This! More Please!!

  3. I was so excited to try this and did so tonight. Are you sure 10 minutes is all you need? I did not do the potatoes but did do the carrots and after 10 minutes at high pressure the meatloaf was still raw. I covered it and steamed it another 15 minutes and it was still raw. I brought it back up to pressure for 10 more minutes and it was finally cooked through. It got RAVE reviews from my guests (I used the chili sauce) and want to try it again but want to confirm the cooking time. Thanks!!

    • Hi Tanya: I suspect that your cooker may be working under 10 or 12 pounds of pressure rather than 13-15. Do you find that other foods take a bit longer than my recipes suggest? Sounds like you needed 20 minutes under pressure total. You could also experiment with 12 minutes under pressure, then do the natural release which allows for further cooking. If you do the recipe again, please let me know how it goes. Glad you got the rave reviews!

      • Thank you for the quick reply. Honestly, I am a little new to the PC thing but other things I have done have come out in the time indicated. The “weight” (is that what it is called?) is the 13-15 lb BUT I guess that doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t coming all the way up to pressure. I will certainly try it again…excellent recipe. Hopefully it was just a fluke.

        BTW, I am learning PC cooking for when we take off on our boat to live aboard. This is, as you know, an excellent way to use less fuel and not warm up the boat to cook. Not to mention, less time cooking and more time sailing!!! Thanks for your books (I have 2) and this blog!

      • The “pc” is fabulous for a boat galley, so fuel efficient and you can make so many one-pot meals. Enjoy!

  4. Hey Lorna,

    Made this tonight for my husband and he loved it. It was delicious.Thanks for the great recipe.

  5. Lorna,

    Just received my Cuisinart electric pressure cooker,, and am excited beyond words!

    My immediate question is “Does the fat from the meatloaf absorb into the potatoes? Not preferable health wise!

    Thank you,

    • I don’t think much fat is absorbed but maybe a little coats the potato skins.

  6. Lorna,

    Another question: any other recommendations for a veggie in place of cooked carrots?

    Thank you,

    • Any hard veggies like diced sweet potatoes or beets would work.

  7. I a little concerned about using aluminum in my cooking – I am affraid that trace elements will get into the food which can be unhealthy. Are there any alternatives?

    • You could try a small, shallow, ovenproof bowl covered with foil if it fits into the cooker with plenty of room to spare on the top. Never put the bowl on the bottom of the cooker, but on top of a rack or, in this case, the meatloaf. Does anyone else have a suggestion that is safe and that they have tried?

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