20 Feb 19
The Denver Post
It appears that my aptitude with a kitchen appliance is in direct proportion to my faith in its name.
For instance, my Crock Pot truly is a paleo appliance, no pretense, just a piece of crockery atop a hotplate. Easy peasy. Same with my Smart Stick immersion blender. I’m still surprised how it just purees slop into silk when all I do is stick it into the pot.
But sometimes an appliance’s name or instructions seem extreme to me, in the too-good-to-be-true way. For instance, in 1980, while on a babysitting job, the child’s mother told me that “17 minutes” in the Amana Touchmatic Radarange would cook the chicken thighs through.
“Yeah,” I said to myself, “right.”
After she left, I set the High Power button for 70 minutes because, obviously, that’s the number she meant.
The chicken’s bones blackened from the inside out and exploded.
Then, for Christmas two years ago, my son, Colin, and his mom gave me an Instant Pot.
“Instant, my frijoles,” I said (not to myself).
Christmas morning, I looked at this little R2-D2 with a plug and put it away. I couldn’t believe that this thing could improve on Ye Olde Crock Pot.
I was wrong. So wrong.
Colin made a shoulder of pulled pork with his Instant Pot, in an hour and a half, that was in every way — especially tenderness — like that of a six-hour slow cook.
I’ve made jasmine and basmati and Louisiana Long with the Instant Pot’s rice cooker function and they are all three far better — and less stressful — made that way than anything I’ve ever done with raw rice atop the stove or in the oven.
And I get rhapsodic about Instant Pot yogurt. I adore yogurt and eat at least half a quart a day. The Instant Pot lets me batch up a gallon at a time. Its great asset, in this area of the lactic arts, is how it holds a perfect incubation temperature of exactly 110 degrees for as long as you desire it.
(I pull a nice 12-hour all-nighter.)
So I now longer use Ye Olde Crock Pot. (Well, maybe to keep things warm for a buffet item at a large dinner.)
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Moreover, the Instant Pot has taught me several important things about itself:
• Use at least ½ cup of liquid when cooking anything on Pressure Cook.
• If using a standard recipe (say, from a non-Instant Pot cookbook), add 10 to 15 minutes to the overall cooking time stipulated in the recipe. The Instant Pot needs those extra minutes to do its initial pressurizing warmup.
• Set the venting lever before you set any cooking buttons.
• Learn the difference between Natural Release (leaving the machine to drop the pressure slowly on its own after its cooking) and Quick Release (when you manually turn the venting knob to finish or stop the cooking).
• Do not use your fingers to move the venting lever from Sealing to Venting; use a spoon handle or some other implement. And keep your face away from looking at the valve as you turn it.
Instant Pot Yogurt
After you make yogurt in the Instant Pot way, you may take the further step to “Greek” it, if you wish. Or you can make “labni” (sometimes spelled “labneh”), a sort of yogurt cheese popular in the Levant made by draining yogurt of its whey for more than merely a few hours. This main recipe makes 1 gallon of yogurt, or 2 quarts of Greek-style, or less of labni. I do not use the Instant Pot for the initial heating of milk (and, in this recipe, cream), but rather Ye Olde Stovetop. It’s quicker, less messy and, in this instance, safer and more reliable. — Bill St. John
1 gallon whole milk
1 quart half-and-half
2 tablespoons plain yogurt with active live cultures (store-bought or from a previous homemade batch), in a cup or bowl, at room temperature
In a large pot on stovetop, heat milk and half-and-half over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until temperature reads 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. Fill the Instant Pot’s inner pot halfway with hot water from the tap and set aside to warm it.
Cool the milk, either off the heat or in a water and ice bath, until the heat lowers to 108 degrees measured on an instant-read thermometer at a few places in the hot liquid. Empty and dry the inner pot and place inside the Instant Pot. Quickly temper the 2 tablespoons of yogurt with some of the heated milk and stir back into the heated milk. Transfer the milk to the Instant Pot, close the lid, press the
Yogurt button and adjust the time to your taste, from 8 hours (slightly tart yogurt) to up to 12 hours (appreciably tart yogurt).
To make Greek-style yogurt: Place the finished yogurt in a sieve or colander, lined with rinsed and squeezed muslin or several layers of open-weave cheesecloth, and set over a bowl sufficiently large to catch ½ of the volume of the yogurt of its whey. Place in very cold or refrigerated spot for between 4 hours (moderately firm Greek style) to up to 8 hours (very firm Greek or labni/labneh style).
Instant Pot Spaghetti
This isn’t dinner-party-level spaghetti. This is I-need-to-feed-mytoddler-something-she’ll-actually-eat spaghetti. The I-came-home-late-dear-God-what-are-we-having-for-dinner spaghetti. And with the miracle of the Instant Pot, once it reaches pressure, this spaghetti only takes 8 minutes to cook. I use a mixture of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage, but you can use all beef or ground turkey if you’re looking for something leaner. And, yes, you can skip the spices and add actual chopped onion and minced garlic, but who has the time? — Alison Borden
Recipe adapted from thesaltymarshmellow.com
½ pound ground beef
½ pound sweet Italian sausage
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 pound spaghetti noodles
24 ounces spaghetti sauce (you can make your own, but conveniently, this is the size of one jar)
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
36 ounces water
Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the beef and sausage. Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning. Cook the meat, breaking it into pieces, until it’s browned. Turn the Instant Pot off.
Drain any excess grease, if necessary. Break the spaghetti noodles in half and place them on top of the meat in the Instant Pot. Crisscross the noodles when adding them to avoid them clumping together. Pour in the spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes (do not drain) and water. Push the noodles down to ensure they are submerged.
Turn the valve to Seal and set the Instant Pot to manual mode or pressure cook, at the high pressure setting, and add 8 minutes of cooking time. When the time is up, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to Venting. Stir the spaghetti well. Serve immediately.
Note: When you first open the lid after cooking, it will appear a little liquidy. Stir well to incorporate the liquid with the noodles. I will occasionally add more spaghetti sauce at this point (another half jar or about 12 ounces of homemade sauce), just to thicken up the mixture.
Bacon, Potato and Corn Chowder
From “How to Instant Pot” by Daniel Shumski, Workman Publishing, 2017
The reason I love this recipe, aside from sneaking corn into my almost exclusively spaghetti-eating child’s diet, is that the Instant Pot makes quick work of soup-sized potato chunks. Seriously, you get perfectly cooked potatoes in one minute. One minute! — Alison Borden
5 slices of bacon, cut in half
1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1½ stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 pound unpeeled red potatoes, cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 bay leaves
2 cups reduced-salt chicken stock
3 cups frozen corn kernels
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1½ cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
Line the bottom of the Instant Pot with the bacon slices. Set it to Saute and use the adjust button to select the middle temperature (“Normal”). Cook with the lid off, and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to move the bacon around so it cooks evenly. Cook until the bacon is crisp.
Remove the bacon, allowing it to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate, but leave the fat.
With the Saute function and middle temperature (“Normal”) still selected, add the onion and celery to the bacon fat. Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally, until the onion and celery soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and bay leaves. Pour in the chicken stock. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing, press Cancel and then select Pressure Cook at high pressure and set the time to 1 minute.
When the cooking cycle ends, use a wooden spoon to manually release the valve to venting.
Remove the lid and discard the bay leaves. Add the corn, thyme, salt, pepper, milk and hot sauce. Press Cancel and set the Instant Pot to Saute and adjust to the lowest temperature (”Less”). Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the chowder is hot.
Chop the bacon. Add about half the bacon to the chowder and stir to distribute. Reserve the rest of the bacon to use as garnish.
Serve the chowder hot, garnished with bacon. A little shredded cheddar cheese works, too.
Quinoa and Sweet Potato Bowls with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Putting together a grain bowl is even easier when you can cook two of the ingredients in the Instant Pot at the same time. Here, sweet potatoes steam on a tall rack over the quinoa below. Crunchy raw vegetables and a fresh, citrus-based vinaigrette brighten up the bowl. It’s especially important to seek out small, single-serving sweet potatoes for this recipe, since larger ones won’t cook through by the time the quinoa is done. — From “The Essential Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook,” by Coco Morante (Ten Speed Press, February 2019)
2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
2½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
6 small (5-to 6-ounce) sweet potatoes, 1½ to 2 inches in diameter
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)
1/3 cup avocado oil or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ small red cabbage (12 ounces), shredded
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
2 Roma or plum tomatoes, cored and diced
3 medium or 6 tiny avocados, sliced hot sauce for drizzling
Add the quinoa and broth to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure all of its legs rest firmly on the bottom of the pot. Place the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the rack.
Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Manual or Pressure Cook setting and set the cooking time for 10 minutes at low pressure. (The pot will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)
While the sweet potatoes and quinoa are cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a tightly lidded jar, combine the lime juice, oil, agave, salt, pepper, cumin, and cilantro. Shake to combine. Set aside. When the cooking program ends, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and, using tongs, transfer the sweet potatoes to a dish. Wearing heat resistant mitts, remove the rack, then lift out the inner pot. Use a fork to fluff the quinoa. Slice the sweet potatoes into ½-inch rounds.
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and tomatoes, and pour in the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Divide the quinoa and cabbage mixtures evenly among serving bowls. Arrange the sweet potato rounds on top, along with the sliced avocado. Drizzle with hot sauce and serve warm.