I got an Instant* Pot pressure cooker for Christmas. I got sucked in after reading an article on Serious Eats that compared the outcome of dishes cooked in 1) a pressure cooker, 2) a dutch oven, and 3) a slow cooker. I’ve used my slow cooker a lot and had no intention of giving it up, but now, after having my pressure cooker for a few months, I have decided that I don’t need my slow cooker anymore. Buh-bye. (I do, however, still need my rice cooker. More on that below.)
*There are a lot of Instant Pot fans on the internets that will brag about how you can make blah blah blah in just 10 minutes! but they often leave out that part where it takes around 10 minutes to come up to pressure and the part about often waiting 10-20 minutes after pressure to naturally release the pressure before you can open the lid. So, yes, it’s a faster way to cook some things. But, no, it’s not *ta-da* INSTANT.
A few Instant Pot terms you need to become familiar with if you’re going to drink the Instant Pot Kool-Aid:
- natural release – With the pressure valve in the “closed” position, the time it takes to slowly release enough pressure after cooking before you can open the lid. Abbreviated below as NR.
- quick release – (Carefully) moving the pressure valve to the “open” position as soon as cooking is complete. This prevents some things from over-cooking; it’s not great for most things (steamy, dangerous, possibly messy). Abbreviated below as QR.
- sauté – Instant Pot comes with a bunch of buttons. Besides the “manual” button for timed pressure cooking, I’ve only used the “sauté” button. It generally works quite well at sautéing onions, sweating veggies, and browning meat.
Below is a random list of things I’ve made (and please forgive my instructions/methods; I’m not a recipe writer; I also noticed that I can’t break the habit of writing measurements in the style that my 8th grade Home Ec teacher taught me (ie: lb, C, T, t)):
Chicken bone both (modified from Run Fast, Eat Slow)
- 30 minute chicken/water/cider soak
- 100-120 minute pressure
- 30 minute NR
Use any chicken bones you have (and roast them beforehand if you have time). I used some chicken necks and backs (Central Market sells them frozen and they’re about $1.50 at most) along with a few chicken feet (yes!) and onions (unpeeled, quartered), carrots (unpeeled, cut into thirds), celery (cut into thirds), 6 peppercorns, a bay leaf, some fresh, smashed ginger, 2.5-3 quarts filtered water, and 1/4 C apple cider vinegar (I like mine with “The Mother”). This is an easy one to crank out on a Sunday afternoon and I can have the broth cooled, skimmed, and separated into freezer containers way before bedtime.
Risotto (modified from Hip Pressure Cooking’s Easy Pressure Cooker Risotto)
- 5 minute saute (chopped onions)
- 2 minute additional sauté (rice and wine deglaze)
- 5 minute pressure
- 1 minute NR, then QR.
Sauté a chopped onion in olive oil until soft. Stir in 2 C arborio rice* until translucent and just turning white again (a few minutes), then deglaze with a big splash of white wine.
*I used a spinach seasoned risotto mix from Central Market (basically dry seasonings tossed with arborio rice).
Stir in 4 C of veggie or chicken broth (I used some of my bone broth from the recipe above) and close the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, wait 1 minute, then perform a quick release. Remove lid when pressure is fully released and stir in parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
I didn’t think I would like risotto in the pressure cooker after my fails with plain white rice and pilaf (see below) but risotto is a win for me. I was able to prep the rest of the meal while it cooked (instead of having to stir, stir, stir). It came out velvety and creamy.
Served with pan-seared sockeye salmon and chopped, steamed spinach with a big squeeze of lemon.
Chicken chile verde (modified from Serious Eat’s Easy Pressure Cooker Chile Verde)
- ~5 minute saute
- 15 minute pressure
- 10 minute sauce puree and chicken de-boning
Sauté 3 lbs of chicken thighs/legs (bone-in, skin on), along with 1 chopped white onion, 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 T cumin, 2 chopped poblano chiles, 3-4 fire-roasted hatch chiles, and 4-5 tomatillos, quartered. Amazingly, you don’t need any extra liquid for this recipe. The juice from the chicken and tomatillos is enough to create the perfect amount of pressure. (I could not believe how easily the chicken fell off the bone as I pulled the pieces out of the cooker.)
Use an immersion blender (or regular blender) to puree the peppers/onions/tomatillos (add fish sauce for seasoning) and then toss the chicken back in (de-boned, skin removed, shredded).
Serve with rice and a few corn tortillas and cilantro and lime for garnish. Plenty of delicious leftovers.
Pork Shoulder (modified from Chowhound’s Beer-Braised Pulled Pork Shoulder)
- 5 min. browning
- 15 minute pressure
- 20 minute NR
Cut a 4 lb boneless pork shoulder into 4 equal pieces and rub them in a little oil then rubbed them with salt, chili powder, and cinnamon. After resting for 30 minutes I browned them in the cooker then toss in 2 sliced onions, 8 crushed garlic cloves, 2 sliced habanero peppers, 1 C of brown beer and 1 T of apple cider vinegar.
After natural release, remove the pork pieces and allow them to cool enough to handle with a few forks for pull apart goodness. I HAVE NEVER SEEN PORK THIS TENDER.
We had some over nachos (with some added cotija cheese and pickled jalapeños) on Super Bowl Sunday. Plenty of leftovers for lunches and freezing.
“Pho” seasoned Chuck Roast (modified from No. 2 Pencil’s Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches)
- 5 minute roast browning
- 2-3 minute onion sauté and deglazing
- 30 minute pressure
- 20 minute NR
Season a 2.5 lb roast with salt and pepper and brown in the cooker. Remove from cooker and added thinly sliced onions and sauté until soft. Add 1 clove of minced garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Deglaze pot with about 1/2 C red wine and then return the roast to the cooker along with 1.5 C of beef broth and a pho bouillon cube. Close the pot and manually cook for 30 minutes.
After natural release, remove the roast and allow it to slightly cool, then slice (I’d hoped it would slice more uniformly but it mostly shredded).
We made French dip sandwiches with our roast. Strain the broth for a lovely pho-hinted au jus. Toast French hoagie buns and layer them with beef, some of the onion slices strained off the broth, a few sprinkles of cilantro, and a slice of provolone. Dip. Eat. Repeat.
- 8 minute pressure
- 10 minute NR
Chop a bunch of carrots up (at least 4 or 5), an onion, one green pepper, 2 celery sticks, and mince some garlic (about 2 cloves) and about an inch of ginger.
In the Instant Pot, sauté the onions, carrots, celery, and pepper for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add 2 t each of Garam Masala curry, ground coriander, and ground cumin, plus 1 t of cayenne and stir until fragrant.
Finally, add 2 C veggie broth, 1 can chopped tomatoes, 1 can chick peas, 1 peeled and chopped sweet potato, a big handful of raisins or chopped dried apricot, 1/4 C peanut butter or other nut butter, and 4 big handfuls of chopped kale or spinach to the cooker and cook on manual for 8 minutes.
Allow a natural release. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown rice or couscous.
- 5 minute pressure
Place steamer basket on the tray that comes with your Instant Pot. Pour in 1 C of cold water and fill the steamer basket with eggs (I usually do 6-8). Set the cooker to 5 minutes. After the pot comes to pressure and cooks (this usually takes a total of 12 minutes or so) use the quick release setting and carefully remove the eggs and place in an ice bath for 5 minutes.
Steel Cut Oats (from The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook)
- 3 minute pressure
- 10 minute NR
Melt 1 T butter on the sauté setting and add 1 C of steel cut oats. Stir for a few minutes, then add 1 chopped apple, 1 t of cinnamon, 1 T of brown sugar, 2.5 C of water. Cook on manual for 3 minutes and allow 10 minutes natural release before opening. Serve with chopped nuts, bananas, dried fruit, and some coconut milk + honey or extra brown sugar for sweetness.
I’ve also successfully made (but didn’t take notes):
- chicken stew
- black beans
- black bean turkey chili
Things that I made that didn’t work (for me):
plain old rice (took just as long as my rice cooker and a bit mushy on my 2 trials)
To be fair, I tried making rice the first week I had the cooker and I wasn’t exactly sure how long to set things so I’ll probably try a few more times with a shorter pressure time or with less liquid.
pasta (way too messy to quick release and also took just as long as stove top)
There is no way to do a natural release with pasta (it will overcook) so you’re stuck with a starchy, spitting mess when doing a quick release. Having said that, the mac and cheese that I made was delicious (just add in chopped american cheese, grated cheddar, cayenne, dry mustard, and evaporated milk to the cooked pasta and let it slowly melt into creamy goodness).
Now that I’ve put together all these recipes, I’ll have to stow most of them away because I’m about to embark on a new adventure in mostly vegetarian/vegan eating (I haven’t decided whether or not to keep fish out of my diet and I am not fully committed to a no cheese/no yogurt lifestyle). Stay tuned!