September 22, 2017
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Instant Love
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How one home cook fell hard for America’s favorite slow-fast cooker, the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot came into my life on Christmas morning 2014. My husband, Brendan, and I had gotten married that spring, and due to my work schedule I was unable to spend the holiday with him and his family in San Diego. Instead, I was stuck at home with a full schedule of holiday singing gigs in the Bay Area. (As a self-employed classical singer, I couldn’t afford to miss out on the various masses, caroling, and other holiday-related music-making.)

To make up for my missing out on the trip, Brendan surprised me with a giant pile of presents just before he left town. There were at least a couple dozen gifts under the tree, all laid out in bright blue gift wrap. When I opened them, alone in our apartment on Christmas morning, I realized what’d happened. My husband had ordered every single item on my Amazon wishlist, including the Instant Pot Duo 60. With a six-quart capacity and presets for everything from cooking poultry to culturing yogurt, it was the multicooker of my dreams.

I spent the next few days cooking up a storm and getting the hang of my new appliance. While I’d always been scared of my dad’s ancient stovetop pressure cooker, the Instant Pot was failsafe and whisper quiet. In that first week I used it to make chicken drumstick soup, steel-cut oats, and batches of beans and grains.

Right away I could see the advantages of the IP over stovetop cooking (pressurized or otherwise). With the speed of a pressure cooker and the make-ahead option provided by the “keep warm” setting, it’s suited to all kinds of situations. Whether I plan ahead or cook on the fly, I now use it far more often than my stovetop burners. I almost feel bad for my cast-iron and stainless steel pots and pans since they get far less use now that the IP has colonized my kitchen.

I would not have been interested in the Instant Pot in the first place if it weren’t for a couple of my friends, Michelle and Danielle. Michelle’s a popular paleo blogger with a husband and two kids, and Danielle, a photographer and the founder of Tapestry Suppers, is an omnivore and yogi who lives with her husband and their cat. Despite having disparate cooking needs and lifestyles, they were both completely obsessed with their Instant Pots. Michelle used hers for batches of bone broth, Kalua pork, and vegetable side dishes, while Danielle was making batches of beans, tonkotsu ramen, and bak kut teh, a pork rib dish from her native Singapore.

Michelle’s enthusiasm helped the Instant Pot to catch on like wildfire in the paleo blogging community. Pretty soon, paleo IP recipes were clogging up my RSS feed, and I knew those folks were onto something, even if their recipes lacked a lot of my favorite ingredients. I started a Facebook page to keep track of all the new recipes getting published online, mostly so I’d be able to try them out myself.

At first, my page garnered mostly paleo and health-minded followers, but soon I attracted a broader audience. People were looking for IP recipes for everything from vegan chili to New York cheesecake. More mainstream food bloggers began publishing Instant Pot recipes too, for mac ‘n cheese, orange chicken, you name it. I began to receive questions in visitor posts and messages, asking about how to use an Instant Pot, whether slow cooker recipes could be adapted for the IP (short answer: yes, most of the time), which model to buy, when the next sale was happening, and which blogs had the best recipes.

Now the Instant Pot is enjoying full-on mainstream popularity. It’s a top seller in Amazon’s Prime Day sales, and the newest, higher-end models are displayed prominently in Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma (the Ultra and Duo 60 Plus, respectively). It’s the perfect gateway purchase in the realm of smart appliances—there’s even a mini model for truly tiny kitchens.

I started my Instant Pot Recipes page on a whim, and in the end it turned me into an expert on the Instant Pot—my cookbook is now out with Ten Speed Press. Interacting with readers has kept me engaged with what’s now my most used kitchen appliance. I love seeing what recipes other people come up with for the Instant Pot, and I have no plans to stop writing lots of my own. I hope the dishes I’ve shared here will inspire you to press some buttons and get [pressure] cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 baby back ribs, 2½ to 3½ pounds total
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup favorite barbecue sauce

Coco Morante’s The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook gives tips and tricks for killer comfort food made with everyone’s favorite countertop appliance. 

Making a batch of barbecued ribs in the Instant Pot is much faster than doing it on the grill, and you can make them any time of the year. The ribs cook to tenderness in the pot, then get brushed with barbecue sauce and take a quick trip to the oven until nicely browned and caramelized.

Note: You can steam the ribs with water instead of braising them in the apple juice and vinegar. They will be slightly less flavorful but still good. To steam the ribs, pour 1 cup water into the Instant Pot, place the trivet in the pot, arrange the ribs on top of the trivet, and secure the lid. Select the Steam setting and set the cooking time for 20 or 25 minutes at high pressure, depending on how well done you like your ribs. Release the pressure and bake the ribs as directed.

  1. With a rack bone side up, and starting at one end, slip a knife tip under the translucent membrane, loosening it from the bone. Once you have lifted enough to get a good grip, grasp the membrane with a paper towel and peel it off the rack (or ask your butcher to do this). Repeat with the remaining rack(s). Cut the rack(s) in half crosswise.
  2. Stack the ribs in the Instant Pot. Pour in the apple juice and vinegar. Secure the lid and move the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Meat/Stew setting and set the cooking time for 20 minutes at high pressure. (For meat-falling-off-the-bone ribs, set the cooking time for 25 minutes.)
  3. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. While the pressure is releasing, preheat the oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or a silicone baking mat.
  4. When 15 minutes have passed, move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and, using a pair of tongs, transfer the ribs to the prepared sheet pan. Discard the cooking liquid.
  5. Brush the ribs on both sides with the barbecue sauce, then bake for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is caramelized and browned. Remove from the oven, cut the ribs apart, and serve.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups walnut halves and pieces
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and drumsticks)
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cups pomegranate molasses
  • ⅔ cups water
  • Steamed long-grain white rice, for serving
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Coco Morante’s The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook gives tips and tricks for killer comfort food made with everyone’s favorite countertop appliance. 

Here is a simplified take on fesenjān, a classic Iranian dish of chicken simmered in a rich, tangy sauce of toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses. You can either cut up a whole chicken or use an equivalent weight of bone-in, skin-on drumsticks and thighs. (For a faster version, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs.) Easy but elegant, this dish is great for both weeknight suppers and weekend dinner parties.

To make this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, skip the searing step and use the oil to sauté the walnuts. Omit defatting the sauce before serving.

  1. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts until finely and evenly ground. Season the chicken pieces on both sides with the salt and pepper.
  2. Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Add half of the chicken pieces and sear, turning once, for 4 minutes on each side, until browned. Transfer the seared chicken to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
  3. Add the ground walnuts to the oil and rendered chicken fat remaining in the Instant Pot and sauté for 3 minutes. They will become a bit toasty and aromatic, leaving lots of browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes, until the onion is slightly softened. Stir in the cinnamon and sauté for 1 more minute.
  4. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and water, using a wooden spoon to nudge all of the browned bits from the pot bottom and incorporate them into the sauce. Return the chicken pieces to the pot, coating them with the sauce and arranging the pieces in a single layer. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Poultry setting and set the cooking time for 10 minutes at high pressure.
  5. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and use a ladle or large spoon to skim off the fat from the surface of the sauce.
  6. To serve, using a slotted spoon, arrange the chicken over the rice on individual plates and then ladle the sauce on top. Sprinkle each serving with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

Ingredients

  • Jambalaya
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil or other neutral oil with high smoke point
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage (2 links), sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4 thighs), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil or other neutral oil with high smoke point
  • 2 pounds bony chicken parts (such as drumsticks, wings, or necks and backs)
  • 2 large carrots, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups water

Coco Morante’s The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook gives tips and tricks for killer comfort food made with everyone’s favorite countertop appliance. 

A filling one-pot rice dish with chunks of chicken thigh and slices of spicy andouille sausage, jambalaya is one of my husband’s favorite dishes. It’s easy to throw together for dinner, and I’m happy to make it often, especially when we’re tired of the usual soups and stews. If you like, add seeded and chopped bell pepper and/or celery with the onion. A bottle of hot sauce on the table is mandatory. Frank’s RedHot is my pairing of choice.

    Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

  1. Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Using tongs, place the chicken pieces in the pot in a single layer and sear, flipping once, for 5 minutes on each side, until browned. Don’t worry if some of the skin sticks to the pot.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, garlic, onion, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf to the pot, then pour in the water, going slowly to prevent splashing. Make sure the pot is no more than two-thirds full.
  3. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Soup/Broth setting and set the cooking time for 60 minutes at high pressure.
  4. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 20 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. At this point, you can leave the pot on its Keep Warm setting for up to 10 hours.
  5. Place a wire-mesh strainer over a large bowl or pitcher. Wearing heat-resistant mitts, lift the inner pot out of the Instant Pot and strain the broth into the container. Discard the vegetables. If you have used meatier chicken parts such as drumsticks, you can pick the meat off of the bones, discard the bones, and save the meat for another use. If you have used only bony parts, discard the chicken along with the vegetables.
  6. Pour the broth into a fat separator to remove the fat, or chill the broth in the refrigerator until the fat solidifies on top, then scoop off the fat from the surface with a large spoon.
  7. The broth can be used right away, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for future use. To freeze, pour the broth into the cups of silicone muffin pans or into mini loaf pans and slip into the freezer. When the portions have frozen solid, after about 4 hours, pop them out of the pans, transfer to ziplock plastic freezer bags, and return to the freezer for up to 6 months.

Jambalaya

  1. Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the rice, bay leaf, and spices and sauté, stirring often, for 1 minute longer.
  2. Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and chicken and stir to combine, scraping down the sides of the pot to make sure all of the rice is covered with the cooking liquid.
  3. Secure the lid and set the pressure release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Poultry setting and set the cooking time for 10 minutes at high pressure.
  4. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot and serve the jambalaya immediately.

Coco Morante

Coco Morante is the author of The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, she writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

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