Tag: Instant Pot

Chicken soup for a cold

Chicken soup for a cold

I went to my doctor yesterday because I had a lingering nasty cold, and came away with a couple of helpful prescriptions and a recommendation from both the doctor and his PA that I be sure to have some chicken soup. Well there have been enough studies to know that chicken soup really does help cold symptoms, and that was all I needed to buy 4 chicken thighs (those ridiculous Franken-thighs where 4 weighed 1.7 lbs) and make some soup.

We had made some chicken pot pies a few weeks ago and had frozen the remaining stock and thus had some really good stock all ready to go.

  1. We pulled out 2 containers of it (about 2-3 quarts) and popped then out of their containers and into the pan of our Instant Pot. We set it on low pressure steam for 5 minutes to thaw the stock.
  2. Then we skinned the thighs and tossed them into the pot, and pressed the Poultry button for 15 minutes cooking.
  3. We pulled the chicken pieces out to cool and decanted the fat from the stock.
  4. When we made our frozen stock, we didn’t remove every bit of fat because it would be fine going into a gravy, but no one wants soup with a greasy mouth feel, so we removed the fat from the stock and from poaching the thighs using a gravy separator. It works by pouring from the bottom of the dish, since the fat floats to the top.

separator

  1. We poured the fat off three batches.
  2. Now to actually make the soup, we cut up
  • One medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 large stalk of celery
  1. We added the veggies to the now empty InstantPot bowl along with a Tb or two of butter, and let them sauté until softened.
  2. Then we returned the stock to the pot, along with the cut up chicken.
  3. Then we tossed in the remainder of an open bag of Medium Dutch Maid Egg Noodles (about 5 oz).
  4. We closed the pot and pressed Soup, setting the time down to 10 minutes.
  5. The resulting soup was so beautiful even in the pot we were amazed.

in potIt was even better in a bowl. We served it with a loaf of Wave Hill Bread.

This recipe serves about 4.

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Beef stock in 2 hours with an Instant Pot

Beef stock in 2 hours with an Instant Pot

It is amazingly simple to make beef stock in a couple of hours in an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot.  Oh, and you can also call it “beef broth” or “bouillon” or even “bone broth” if you want. It’s a terrific stock base for making sauces and gravies and freezes very easily. We put ours in pint freezer containers.

So, all we did was take some left over beef ribs from our holiday roast. We froze them last month and got them out for this recipe. You can just as well use steak bones. Those used in long cooking pot roasts would be less useful because the stewing process leaches out the flavors your want to capture. Here are our ingredients.

  • 6 beef ribs or other steak or roast bones
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 10 stems of parsley (still growing in our garden)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Put all the ingredients in the pot liner, and fill with water to the Max fill line.
  2. Press the Soup button and set the time to 120 minutes.  In the Instant Pot, the Soup setting keeps the liquid just below a rolling boil, so the stock doesn’t become cloudy

    .

  3. When the 2 hours are done, let the stock cool naturally, which could take up to another hour, until the pressure has released.
  4. Using tongs, remove all of the large pieces of bones and veggies.
  5. Strain the stock through a colander to catch any other meat or veggie debris, and scoop the broth into freezer containers.  When they are mostly cool, pop them into the freezer. They are ready for your next cooking adventure.

It is important not to add more than a small amount of salt, because some recipes call for you to reduce the stock to a small amount, and that would over-concentrate the salt, making the dish too salty.

January Thaw beef stew

January Thaw beef stew

This simple stew recipe is just what need on a cold morning or during the sort of thaw we are having now. It will probably cool back down, and you’ll appreciate this tonight and any night soon! What makes it so special (and so easy) is that it uses crushed ginger snaps! It’s 5 minutes work and about 2 hours in the oven! Or, you can do it in an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot and have it done in half an hour!

You can crush ginger snaps quickly in a food processor, or in a bag using a rolling pin. They not only add flavor, they thicken the stew.

beef-in-casserole

  • 1 to 1 ¼ lb stew beef
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tb brandy
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup ginger snaps
  • 1 10-oz can beef or chicken stock (In a pressure cooker, reduce this to about half a cup)
  • ¾ cup dry red wine
  • 1-2 Tb chopped parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. Place the sliced onion in the bottom of an oven-proof casserole.
  3. Mince the garlic and add over the onions.
  4. Add the beef, brandy, stock, red wine and crushed ginger snaps.
  5. Sprinkle on half the parsley.
  6. Cover and bring to a boil on the stove top.
  7. Then place in the preheated oven and bake for two hours.
  8. Check to make sure the beef is tender. It may take a bit longer, depending on your oven.
  9. Serve over noodles or rice.

Instant Pot

  1. If you do this recipe in an Instant Pot, brown the onions and beef in a skillet and  pour heated brandy over the pan and ignite it. This prevents alcohol fumes from coming out of the Instant Pot’s steam vent.
  1. Remember to use less liquid in the Instant Pot than in a casserole disk, The ¾ cup of wine plus about half a cup of stock is plenty, because little evaporates while cooking. Select the Stew setting for 25 minutes, and you’ll have a delicious meal.
  2. Serve over noodles or rice.

The original version of this recipe, published over 30 years ago in the Columbus Dispatch reminded you to give individual greetings to each of your fruit trees in January. Always a good ides.

Scrambled eggs in an Instant Pot

Scrambled eggs in an Instant Pot

There have been dozens of experiments on making hard cooked eggs in electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot. Our conclusion was that you want to use low pressure to keep the whites from getting tough and cook them for only 5 minutes, releasing the pressure right away to prevent overcooking.

Similarly, people have experimented with soft-boiled eggs in a pressure cooker. We decided it was a waste of time because cooking them is so quick anyway.

And, likewise, poached eggs seemed  more trouble than they were worth in the Instant Pot, and hard to get out of the little ramekin or egg cup, even when you used non-stick spray. We recommend using a saucepan for a few, or using a big kettle when cooking for a crowd.

But what about scrambled eggs? They present some special problems because they are so easy to over cook and they often stick the fry pan. And for a crowd, there might be some advantages to the pressure cooker.

A little experimentation suggested we were right. You can make any number of scrambled eggs in a bowl and steam them in the Instant Pot. And they come out well. There isn’t any huge time saving here, but there is some consistency. And, you don’t have to keep stirring and monitoring the pan every few seconds. You do still have to take them out pretty expeditiously to keep them from overcooking, though, but they probably won’t stick to the pan the way scrambled eggs often do.

We tried this recipe for one person (2 eggs) and for 2 people (5 eggs) and it was pretty easy once you arrive at the timing for your bowl configuration. We recommend 7 minutes.

Our recipe uses a bit of butter, since fat carries the flavor better. Don’t leave it out.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tb milk (about)
  • ½ Tb butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Spray a small, heat-proof bowl with non-stick spray.
  2. Break the 2 eggs into the bowl.
  3. Add the milk, salt and pepper, and beat with a fork until more or less uniform.
  4. Put 1 cup of water in the Instant pot and add the trivet.
  5. Set the bowl on the trivet, and close the pot and its steam vent.
  6. Set the pot to Steam at low pressure  for 7 minutes. The pot will start chugging away, heating the water, and then start counting down from 7 minutes.
  7. Release the pressure immediately after the timer is down and open the pot. The eggs should look mostly cooked.
  1. Stir them up with a fork to see if they are cooked through. Don’t worry if there are a littly liquidy, they will continue to cook in the bowl for another minute or so. If they really seem way too undercooked, just put the lid back on for a minute or so and they will cook some more. You want them to be sort of creamy, not really hard.
  2. Remove the bowl using a hot pad and fluff the eggs with a fork. Serve right away while still hot.
Turkey stock and hot turkey sandwiches

Turkey stock and hot turkey sandwiches

If you had a turkey sometime last week  (ours was Saturday) you probably want to make the most of the leftovers. We decided to make some fresh turkey stock and use it to make  gravy for hot turkey sandwiches. We had frozen the wings, neck and the partially carved drumsticks: enough meat right there to make some great stock.

We tossed the frozen meat and bones into our Instant Pot and added 2 carrots, two stalks of celery and a small onion, halved.

Then we raided our not-quite finished garden for parsley and thyme and added a bay leaf.

Then we added water up to the Max line and closed the pot up. Probably an hour would have been enough, but since we had the time, we set the pot to 120 minutes, using the Soup setting, which keeps the liquid from boiling too vigorously, and let it cook.

At the end of the 2 hours, we let the pot slowly cool for 15 minutes so it wouldn’t spurt and then released the pressure. We bailed out all the vegetables and discarded them, leaving almost 5  quarts of rich turkey stock.

To make the gravy, we put a couple of Tb of olive oil in a cast iron frying pan and cooked 2-3 Tb of flour for a minute or two, and then poured in 2 cups of turkey stock.

After it thickened, we added slices of turkey, so they would heat through.

We buttered the bottom bread slice, since a little fat carries the flavor better, and added several slices of turkey on top of the bread.

Then we topped the sandwich with more bread, and spooned some more gravy over the top.

Not only did we get delicious turkey sandwiches, we got nearly 4 quarts of stock, that we froze for later use. You could use it anywhere you would use chicken stock, and this tastes way better than canned stock does.

Low labor, big success!

Beef Bourguignon in a Instant Pot

Beef Bourguignon in a Instant Pot

A really good Beef Bourguignon can be an extraordinary meal. However, in its conventional form, it takes a great deal of time and effort. We adapted Craig Claiborne’s classic recipe for the Instant Pot and made the dish in about an hour, mostly unattended. It is warm, steamy, flavorful and comforting on a cold evening and it is so much easier than the “old” way that you are likely to want to make it often.

In fact, while there are many excellent uses for the Instant Pot, this one is far and away the best reason to own one. You just can’t make as good a Beef Bourguignon any other way. The results are really superb.

Since we typically serve stews like this on rice (you could use noodles if you prefer), we made the rice in the Instant Pot while we were browning the meat and vegetables, and then we kept the rice warm in a covered dish in a warm place while we cooked the stew. This worked out very well.

Now, it is certainly possible to brown the meat and the vegetables in the Instant Pot, but the sautéing space is limited and you would have to do it in several batches. And we are not big on flaming brandy inside our Instant Pot anyway.

We elected to do the initial browning on the stove in s conventional frying pan and then add the ingredients to the pot. While Claiborne’s recipe is for 5 lb of stew beef, we used only a quarter of that amount in making a dinner for two. You can scale it back up for larger crowds if you want to. And, since the Instant Pot loses essentially no water during cooking, we used only the cup of wine, and did not add the water mentioned in the original recipe.

  • 1 cup rice (or ½ package egg noodles)
  • 1 ¼ lb stew beef (chuck) cut into large cubes
  • Flour
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/8 cup brandy, warmed  (about 2 Tb)
  • 3 strips bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • ½ leek, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Chopped parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup red wine (Burgundy)
  • 12 small, whole(pearl) onions
  • Sugar
  • ½ lb sliced mushrooms
  1. Cook the rice in the Instant Pot while you prepare the vegetables and meat. If you are using noodles, you can make them while the stew is cooking.

2. Sauté the onions, leeks, carrots, half the chopped parsley and garlic with the bacon in the butter and oil and set aside in a small bowl.

3. Shake the beef in a paper bag with the flour, coating the beef on all sides. Shake off the excess in a colander, season with salt and pepper and sauté the beef in butter and oil until browned on all sides.

4. Pour the warmed brandy over the beef and ignite it to burn off the alcohol.

5. Add the beef, vegetables, thyme and bay leaf to the Instant Pot. Add the red wine, so it comes up part way on the beef. For a full 5 lb recipe, you would use a whole 750 ml bottle of wine. Close the pot and press the Stew button, to cook for 35 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms and pearl onions in butter and oil until slightly browned. Add a dash of sugar to enhance the browning.

7. When the cooking time has finished, release the pressure, remove the lid, and stir in the mushrooms and onions. The stew should be rich and thick. If it seems a little thin, blend 1Tb flour with 1 Tb butter and slowly mix it into the boiling stew. We found this easier to do on the stove, as it heats more quickly and is easier to stir the butter-flour mixture (beurre manie).

stew-in-pan8. Garnish with more chopped parsley and serve. You’ll have an amazingly delicious Beef Bourguignon in about an hour!

Having trouble closing the lid tight on your Instant Pot? See our simple video.

Chicken and dumplings: using an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Chicken and dumplings: using an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

We recently saw the recipe for Chicken and Dumplings from Today Show host Natalie Morales. It looked great, but she did it in a slow cooker, which she said would take 4 hours.

We decided to see if we could speed this up using our Instant Pot pressure cooker. Her recipe uses chicken stock and cream of chicken soup. We decided to eliminate those, since we can make the chicken stock in the pot, and thicken it using cornstarch and add a little cream. We also used chicken thighs, because we wanted the bones to make the stock. We also added a leek, and made our own dumplings without using the dreaded Bisquick.

We started by cooking the thighs for 15 minutes using the Poultry pot setting on the trivet over a cup of water. Then we released the pressure and cut the meat off the bones and put it in a bowl, and tossed the bones and any scraps back into the pot, leaving the trivet in place so we could lift them out later, and added vegetables and water, and pressure cooked for 25 minutes.

Then we discarded the bones and vegetables, removed the trivet, and added new veggies cut into bite sized pieces and pressure cooked for 10 minutes. Then we thickened the broth, added cream and the chicken, brought it to a boil using the Saute function and put the dumpling batter on top. We cooked it covered using the Saute feature to cook the dumplings, and then served it, with the dumplings in one bowl and the chicken stew in the other.  Absolutely delicious.

The only change we’d make next time would be adding less water, as the stew was thinner than we had wanted. We had added 6 cups. Probably 4-1/2 to 5 would be more than enough, since there was already a cup in there from cooking the chicken. Also with that much liquid, the sauté function was not able to heat the stew to a real rolling boil when the dumplings were added, but would probably work better with a bit less water.

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 carrots, cut in half
  • 3 stalks celery, cut in half
  • 1 washed leek, cut in several pieces
  • 5 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Remove the skin and place the thighs on the trivet in the Instant Pot.
  2. Add 1 cup water and cook under pressure for 15 minutes. The Poultry button works fine for this.
  3. Release the pressure, remove the thighs, cut the meat away and set aside in a bowl. Refrigerate when cool.
  4. Place the thigh bones and any scraps back on the trivet, and add the vegetables and spices.
  5. Pressure cook for 25 minutes using the Manual setting. Release the pressure, and discard the bones and vegetables.
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into small pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 cup corn (any of these can be frozen)
  • 1 cup beans
  • 1 cup peas
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  1. Add the water and toss in the vegetables
  2. Cook under pressure for 10 minutes.
  • 4 Tb cornstarch, dissolved in ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup light cream

dumpling-flour

Dumplings

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tb shortening
  • About ¾ cup milk
  • 2 Tb chopped chives
  1. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder
  2. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender of 2 forks
  3. Add the chives
  4. Stir in the milk to make a slightly sticky batter
  5. Add the cornstarch solution and cream
  6. Add the chicken back in.
  7. Bring the stew to a boil until thickened. Use more cornstarch if needed.
  8. Drop the dumpling batter by spoonfuls on top of the boiling stew.
  9. Cover the pot and cook the dumplings for 15 minutes.

Serve the stew and dumplings right away in two bowls.

Overall, this recipe took about 75-80 minutes. You could speed it up, of course, by just using canned chicken stock and skipping steps 4-5. Either way, this is definitely worth it and way faster than using the slow cooker approach, which doesn’t seem to add any real advantage.

Easy mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot

Easy mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot

It’s not that using a pressure cooker for mashed potatoes is faster,  it’s that they taste better. Once you’ve made mashed potatoes this way, you probably won’t boil them in a pan ever again!

  • 2-4 lb Idaho potatoes (or use Yukon Gold)
  • 2-4 Tb butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Up to ¾ cup buttermilk

Here’s all you have to do.

  1. First peel 2 or more pounds of potatoes, and then cut them in half or at most in quarters if they are really large. Try to cut them so the pieces are pretty much the same size. And don’t cut them into little pieces: the more surface area  you create, the more flavor is leached from the potatoes, whether you steam or boil them. Little pieces may cook more quickly, but the flavor will be much less intense.

2. Place the potato pieces on the trivet inside the Instant Pot, and add 1 cup of water.

3. Close the pot and vent, and select Manual for 13 minutes. Then, vent the pot right away using Quick Release. You don’t want them to overcook. Check them with a fork, to make sure they are cooked through.  If they are not (unlikely) you can close the pot and cook for 2 more minutes.

4. Remove the potato pieces and put them in a mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl. Do not use an immersion blender.

5. Beat the potatoes for a minute and then add butter 2-4 Tb, salt and pepper.

6. Beat in the butter, and then add up to ¼ cup of buttermilk and beat until smooth.

Serve right away.

Poaching eggs in an Instant Pot

Put some water in the Instant Pot and add the little trivet. You ought to be able to poach eggs in some container above the trivet. Right? Right. We went through a dozen or more eggs, eggs-perimenting with this, and tell you that the answer, like all social science is “It depends,” because there are a lot of variables.

Our first trial was to put an egg into each of two little glass ramekins that we had sprayed with cooking spray, and set them on the trivet over 1 cup of water. We closed the pot and the steam vent and pressed the Manual button for 3 minutes. Since it take the pot almost 6 minutes to heat up the water and come to pressure, this actually takes 9 minutes to cook the 2 eggs. We released the pressure quickly (30 seconds) and lifted out the two ramekins on the trivet.

It took a bit of time to unmold the eggs: we ran a thin spatula knife around the edge of each dish to loosen them. And even this wasn’t that quick, because the ramekins were so hot that we had to wait a bit before we could handle them. And unmolding the eggs is delicate enough that using hot pads or gloves just won’t cut it.

But we did get the eggs out and onto toast in about 11.5 minutes. They looked fairly nice, although weird because they are actually upside down: the yolk, which would normally by on top is inverted and is now on the bottom. However, when we cut the eggs open, they were a bit overdone. The yolk was more cooked than we would like for a classic poached egg.  Moreover,  the whites were distinctly tough and rubbery.

Rubbery whites were something we saw in cooking hard-cooked eggs under pressure. It vanished if you cooked the eggs at low pressure.

3-minlp-broken-openSo we tried cooking the eggs at low pressure, reducing the time to 2 minutes. They weren’t sufficiently cooked, so we repeated the experiment at 3 minutes and low pressure. These were actually pretty nice, but again, it was hard to unmold them, and the ramekins were just as hot, so it took some time. Again, the elapsed time was at least 11.5 minutes or more, and while the eggs were cooked well, it was hard not to break them while unmolding them.

Some people have recommended poaching eggs in little silicone cups. We picked up a couple of Poach Pod cups at our local Cook’s Nook.  Some people have also tried other similar egg poacher cups like these from Zenda Home.

poach-pod-broken-openWe sprayed them with cooking spray as they recommended and cooked 2 eggs for 3 minutes at low pressure. They weren’t done, so we returned them to the pot for one more minute. These were done and looked pretty nice in their silicone cups. But, while the pods weren’t as hot as the glass ramekins, they were very difficult to get the eggs out of. In fact, even though we carefully ran the spatula knife around them, one of them broke.  Further, they were hard to center over the toast. While the eggs were cooked properly, getting them out was far too difficult, and we don’t recommend them. This took nearly 12 minutes.

Finally, for comparison, we poached two eggs in a saucepan as we have described before. It takes 3 minutes to bring a quart of water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan, then we turn the heat down so the water is barely bubbling, swirl it with wire whisk and crack the eggs one at a time into the swirls. The eggs are done in 2-3 minutes. The total time was 6 minutes, including lifting the eggs out onto the toast. And there are many fewer dirty dishes!

So, we conclude that while it is certainly possible to poach eggs in the Instant Pot, it takes twice as long as in a saucepan, and since the cooking time is so brief, you have to watch the pot timer like a hawk so they don’t overcook. This takes away the “set it and forget it” advantages of the Instant Pot that you get for longer cooking stews or rice.

Soft-boiled eggs using a vegetable steamer

Soft-boiled eggs using a vegetable steamer

While soft-boiled eggs are pretty simple to make, there are a lot of variations on boiling the “3-minute egg,” that have been proposed, including turning off the heat and letting the egg set in the just-boiled water for several minutes.  There is also the problem of eggs cracking while cooking which can lead to a watery result.

So, we recently read of the idea of just cooking the eggs over boiling water in a vegetable steamer. This is a little easier to manage and less likely to lead to cracking. The only real question is how long to cook them. We decided to find out for ourselves.

We numbered 4 eggs 7 through 10 with a pencil. Then we placed a vegetable steamer in a 2-quart saucepan, added water to just under the steamer platform and brought it to a boil. On our stove this takes about 2 minutes.

Then we quickly added the 4 eggs, covered the pan and started a timer.  We prepared a pan of ice water, and quickly removed an egg at 7, 8, 9 and 10 minutes, placing them in the ice water to stop cooking quickly.

We cut open the eggs and lined them up for the picture above. You can see that the 7-minute egg looks to us most like a soft-boiled egg, but if you like them just a bit firmer, you could go for the 8-minute egg,  The last two look more to us like they are on the way to being hardboiled eggs.

11-minutes
Steamed 11 minutes

 

We had separately tested the 11 minute egg, and it is definitely hard boiled.

So, you can definitely make soft or hard-boiled eggs using the steamer. This not only minimizes cracking, it produces hard-boiled eggs that peel perfectly! This is even an advantage when serving soft-boiled eggs, since they come out of the shell cleanly.

This experiment made 4 eggs at once. In a larger saucepan, you could probably make 6-8 if you wanted to. Beyond that, the logistics of serving that many soft-boiled eggs while they are still warm becomes a bit daunting.

Soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot

Of course, since the Instant Pot is also a steamer, you can cook eggs in it just as well, and you can do as many at a time as you like, with the same restrictions on logistics of serving them.

intantpot
Steamed 3 and 4 minutes in the Instant Pot

 

We put one cup of water in the Instant Pot, added the trivet rack and put one egg in the pot. We closed it and set it to steam for 3 minutes at high pressure. Then we quickly released the pressure and put the egg in the ice bath. We repeated the process, steaming for 4 minutes. Comparing the two eggs, we rather think the 4 minute steamed egg is closest to a soft-boiled egg: the 3-minute egg seemed a little underdone. We know that a 5-minute egg is essentially hard cooked so we know we didn’t want to go further.

The only real drawback to using the Instant Pot is that it took 5 ½ minutes to come to temperature before the cooking began. Since the water was already hot in the pot, the heating time for the second egg was only about 4 minutes. However, you can make as many eggs as you can fit into the pot, although getting a large number into the ice bath to stop the cooking might be challenging.

We also tried steaming an egg for 4 minutes at low pressure instead of high pressure. Heating of the water is about 30 seconds faster, and the egg seemed perfect at 4 minutes steaming time. If you are going on to make hard boiled eggs, the low pressure method is preferable as it leads to a tenderer white.