Chicken pot pie is an absolutely delicious comfort food for these cold winter days. Our version makes meaty chicken pies using the meat of a whole chicken and makes the stock for the stew base out of the carcass. It’s not a lot of work, but with the time it takes to cook the chicken and make the stock, the elapsed time is probably an hour a half. However, there is very little actual labor. In this version, the crust for our pie is buttermilk biscuits, from this recipe.
- One whole frying chicken, 3 ½ to 4 pounds
- 5 cups water, or more
- 3 carrots, peeled
- 1 whole leek, split
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt, pepper
- 4 Tb butter
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup light cream
- 1 recipe buttermilk biscuits.
- Cut the chicken into serving sized pieces, pulling off as much of the skin as you can.
- Put the chicken pieces in the Instant Pot, on the trivet and add the water and salt.
- Cook in the Instant Pot, using the Poultry setting for 15 minutes, 20 it the chicken is really big.
- Use Natural Release to let the chicken and water cool so it doesn’t spurt when you release the pressure.
- Remove the legs, thighs and breasts and cut the meat off and reserve. Put the bones back in the pot.
- Add 2 carrots, the leek, the bay leaf and 1 stalk of celery.
- Close the pot and cook using manual for 30 minutes to make chicken stock.
- Meanwhile, make the biscuit dough and preheat the over to 375˚
- Cut the remaining carrots and celery into small slices and saute in 2 Tb of the butter in a covered saucepan for about 20 minutes. We usually add the carrots first, and the celery 5-10 minutes later.
- Open the pot after the 30 minute cooking. Since it isn’t as full now, you probably can use Quick Release. If it starts to spurt, just let it cool another 5 minutes and it will easier to open.
- Melt the remaining 2 Tb of butter in a large, say 4-quart pan, and add the flour. Cook the flour in the butter for 30 seconds, and then scoop out some chicken stock, a cup or so at a time and cook into the flour. You should be able to incorporate and thicken about 4 cups of stock.
- Add the sautéed carrots and celery to the developing. If the gravy seems too thin, you can cook a couple more Tb of flour in some butter in the now emptied saucepan and add some stock to it. Combine with the original gravy in the pot,
- Add the chicken to the pot, the cream, and the frozen peas.
- Cook until heated through and pour the chicken mixture into a casserole dish
- Top with about 10 biscuit rounds.
- Bake in the 375˚ for 15 minutes.
- Serve the casserole dish with a ladle to life out the biscuits and chicken. Serve with butter for the biscuits.
Note: Another approach is to put the chicken mixture into soup crocks. For a crust, roll out some puff pastry, and brush with a small of egg-water mixture. Bake for 15 minutes as above.
Either way, this serves at least 4 people. We put the other half of the chicken mixture in these soup crocks to freeze for another meal.
This simple and delicious chicken pasta dish is a breeze in an Instant Pot, but since the cooking time is so short, you could just as easily make it in a 3 or 4 qt saucepan with a lid. We got the idea from this online recipe, but a quick search will bring up dozens of variations. Our recipe varies from that link mainly in we use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder, and we avoid the mysterious “Italian seasoning.”
- 1 lb boneless chicken breasts (2 lobes of a single chicken breast)
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 2 tsp half-sharp paprika (Ours came from Penzeys)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 12-oz cans chicken stock
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 12 oz penne pasta (we used tricolored)
- 6 oz cream cheese
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 3-6 oz sun-dried tomatoes, cut up
- 4 oz baby spinach leaves
- Set the Instant Pot to Sauté, press adjust to set it to High.
- Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika.
- Sauté the chicken breasts for 2 minutes on each side and remove to a plate.
- Sauté the onions for 1-2 minutes, until softened, adding more olive oil if needed.
- Mash the garlic with the side of a knife, remove the skin and chop them up.
- Add the garlic to the sauté and cook until fragrant.
- Turn off the sauté heat.
- Add the chicken broth, basil, oregano, salt ant pepper, milk, pasta and chicken breasts to the pot.
- Close the pot and set to Manual and 5 minutes.
- When the 5 minutes is over, do a Quick Release and remove the lid.
- Remove the chicken to the plate and cover with foil to keep warm. It will continue to cook on the plate, so be sure to cover it.
- Cut up the cream cheese and stir into the pasta liquid, until it has melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Cut the sun-dried tomatoes into quarters or smaller and add to the pot.
- Add the parmesan cheese and spinach.
- Cut the chicken in to cubes and return it to the pot.
Serve warm, garnished with more parmesan if you like.
In a saucepan
The recipe is pretty much the same, except that you should cook the penne pasta and chicken in the stock, covered, for 10 minutes. You may have to add more water if the stock boils down too much. It is also easier to reheat it, when everything is combined, but as it cools the sauce does become thicker.
The Instant Pot is the ideal way to make pork chops without drying them out. This is a problem since most commercial pork is very lean. Even when you use a premium product like Chairman’s Reserve, you have to take care not to overcook the pork. Your pork will be juiciest if you remember that it need only be cooked to 137˚ F and not to the ridiculously high temperatures of yore.
We bought two large double chops to illustrate the technique.
- 2 large pork chops
- 1 Tb olive oil
- 6 oz apple juice (one small drink box is enough)
- 3 apples, cored and sliced (you don’t have to peel them)
- Salt, pepper
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute (high) and add the olive oil.
- Dry the chops, season them and saute them until slightly browned.
- Turn off the pot and pour out the oil and any rendered fat.
- Add the apple juice and the sliced apples.
5. Close the pot and set to Manual for 10 minutes
6. Let the pressure reduce slowly (NPR) and open the pot.
7. Remove the chops and keep them warm
8. Pour out the apple juice and any other juices.
9. Puree the apples using an immersion blender. This also chops up the peels into the applesauce.
Serve the chops with a side of applesauce.
It is important that you let the pressure reduce slowly so that the meat juices don’t boil off. In this case, the pot was back to normal pressure in about 10 minutes.
The resulting chops were very tender and juicy. We measured the temperature of the two chops: it was nearly 165˚ F, so we suggest that for these large chops, 8 minutes would have been enough, and for smaller, single chops, 5 minutes is probably plenty.
The applesauce is very good with the pork chops, but is probably a bit porky to eat later by itself, so don’t overdo it.
What’s in that bowl?
It’s bean soup!
I know, but what is it now?
That old Benny Hill gag always comes to mind when we make or eat bean soup. A nice bowl of beans, veggies and stock with a little meat added can make a really delicious and nutritious meal. You can use one type of beans or a mixture. And the whole cooking process takes only about an hour, completely unattended.
We started with Bob’s Red Mill Black Bean Soup Mix. This has about 5 kinds of beans, but no seasonings or veggies: those are on you. It has for many years been customary to soak beans overnight before cooking them. This is supposed to make them more digestible and reduce flatulence. But this is controversial, and you probably don’t need to do it.
Nonetheless, for our first Instant Pot bean project, we soaked them over night. Next time we’ll omit that step and just cook them a little longer. We took two cups of the bean mix and rinsed them off under running water, and then soaked them for 12 hours over night, and then rinsed them. You would need to do this rinsing anyway to remove agricultural debris. The beans will have at least doubled in bulk while soaking.
Then we used them as described below.
- 2 cups beans, soaked overnight
- 3 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2-3 Tb olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peels and chopped coarsely
- 1 green, sweet pepper
- 1 cup cubed ham (or more)
- 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp thyme
- Salt, pepper
- Put the olive oil in the Instant Pot pan and set the pot to Simmer (highest setting)
- Add the carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes
- Add the onions, celery, and pepper and saute until soft
- Add the garlic and saute briefly until you smell the fragrance
- Add the beans and chicken stock and mix
- Add the ham, parsley and spices and mix.
- Close the Instant Pot and set to 25 minutes on Manual. If you didn’t soak the beans, you may need to add 10 minutes, but 25 is probably enough either way.
- Allow the mixture to rest 15 minutes before releasing the steam.
Serve in bowls, with crusty bread on the side. Makes around 4 servings.
You can make really good barbecued ribs in about an hour using your Instant Pot to cook the ribs, and a gas grill or your oven to brown them. Some people have suggested using cider or apple juice as the cooking liquid in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, but we never found it made much different. Instead, we use a couple of aromatic spices added to the cooking water: garlic and bay leaves.
Barbecue aficionados frown on cooking the ribs until they fall off the bone. They should be cooked but cohesive.
- 1 rack baby back pork ribs, cut in half
- 1 cup water
- 2 garlic cloves, mashed
- 2 bay leaves
- Place the ingredients in the Instant Pot, seal and cook on Manual for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat your gas grill on high
- Release the pressure and take the ribs out and put on a platter to carry to your barbecue grill. Or, place them on a foil lined cookie sheet to put in the oven.
Using a gas grill
- Turn the middle burner off, and turn the outer 2 burners to medium. Lay the ribs on the grill over the middle section, and brush with your favorite barbecue sauce.
- After 15 minutes, turn, and brush the other side.
- Cook about another 15 minutes, or until the sauce begins to caramelize.
Using your oven
- Preheat the oven to 375˚
- Brush the top of the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce and cook for 15 minutes,
- Turn, brush the other side and cook for about 15 minutes.
- If the sauce hasn’t become bubbly, put under the broiler for 5 more minutes.
Cut the ribs apart and serve on a platter. (See above.)
Don’t worry about buying too much pork. You can probably do 2 racks at a time if you wanted. And once it is cooled, refrigerate it. The next day, just cut off the pork and cut it up a bit. It makes great pulled pork sandwiches. Just put some on a bun, add some barbecue sauce and heat it up for 30 seconds in the microwave.
Plum pudding is a traditional holiday dessert that goes back hundreds of years. And it doesn’t actually contain plums: just raisins and candied fruit. In the 17th century, “plum” meant any dried fruit. Traditionally, you make it a year ahead so it can age, but even a couple of weeks will do, so don’t worry about getting a late start. You can start another one after the holidays and you’ll be all set for next year, too!
Plum pudding is a steamed pudding, cooked for many hours in a slow oven. We sped this up by using our Instant Pot counter top pressure cooker, to reduce the time to just 2 hours. The recipe we are using is half the original, which makes a slumgullion of pudding, and even then we did it two batches, one in a Mrs Anderson’s Baking Steamed Pudding Mold, and a smaller one-hour amount in a small bowl wrapped in foil.
- ½ lb seedless raisins
- ½ lb golden raisins
- ¼ lb currants
- ½ cup thinly slice citron
- ½ cup chopped candied peel
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp mace
- 14 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ lb finely chopped suet (powdery fine)
- 5/8 cup brandy
- 5/8 cup fresh bread crumbs, (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup warm milk
- ½ cup sherry or port
- 6 eggs, well beaten
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup softened butter
- 1 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 Tb brandy or rum
Beat the softened butter in an electric mixer and slowly add the sugar. Add the vanilla or brandy and served with the plum pudding.
Making the pudding
- Blend the fruits, citron, spices and suet in a bowl or jar.
- Add 1/8 cup brandy, cover tightly and refrigerate for 2-4 days, adding more brandy each day.
- When ready to mix up the pudding, mix the milk and sherry or port together.
- Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk/ wine mixture.
- Combine the beaten eggs and sugar and blend with the fruit mixture.
- Add salt and mix thoroughly.
- Put the pudding in a buttered pudding mold or buttered bowls. With the pudding mold we bought, we get about 2/3 of the batter in it. Cover with foil to seal it and keep out the moisture.
- Put a cup of water in the Instant Pot, add the trivet, and place the pudding mold on the trivet.
- Seal the Instant Pot, and steam on Manual for 2 hours.
- Uncover and place in a 250° F oven for 30 minutes.
- Add a dash of brandy to the pudding, and store in a cool place.
- Repeat with the remaining batter in a small bowl covered securely with foil.
- Allow the pudding to age for a week or two, adding a dash of brandy every day or two.
- When ready to serve, reheat in the steamer, and unmold.
- Sprinkle with sugar, add heated brandy and ignite.
- Serve with hard sauce.
Indian pudding is a simple Colonial era recipe made with corn meal, eggs and molasses. While you can bake it, you get a smoother, creamier pudding if you steam it like other puddings. In this recipe, we used our Instant Pot to steam it quickly. You can also follow the same recipe steaming it in the oven I a water bath.
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups milk
- ½ cup corn meal
- 2 Tb butter
- ½ cup molasses
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp dry ginger
- ¼ tsp allspice
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 2/3 cup golden raisns
- ½ tsp vanilla extact
- 1 tb butter to grease the pan
- Vanilla ice cream
- Beat the eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a 3 quart pan, heat the milk to just under a simmer
- Slowly add the cornmeal and whisk it in. It should slowly thicken.
- Cook for 10 minutes, whisking to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
- Remove from stove and add all the other ingredients except the eggs and mix in.
6. Temper the eggs by stirring in a cup or so of the milk mixture. Then add the egg mixture back to the milk mixture and stir it in.
7. Pour the mixture into a buttered casserole dish or cake pan that will fit into the Instant Pot.
8. Wrap the dish securely in foil to keep the water out
9. Add 1 cup of water to the pot and place the wrapped dish on top of the trivet.
10. Cook on the Manual setting for 30-45 minutes.
11. The pudding should be somewhat firm, but may still be jiggly in the center.
12. Let the pudding stand for 15 minutes and then serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.
If you like the pudding a bit firmer, chill it in the refrigerator, and scoop out pudding into serving bowls and microwave them each for 30 seconds. (See above) Serve with ice cream.
You can also steam the pudding in a 325 ° F oven, sitting in a water bath for about 90 minutes.
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 www.optinghealth.com 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.
- 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.
- Then we skinned the thighs and tossed them into the pot, and pressed the Poultry button for 15 minutes cooking.
- We pulled the chicken pieces out to cool and decanted the fat from the stock.
- 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.
- We poured the fat off three batches.
- Now to actually make the soup, we cut up
- One medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots
- 2 large stalk of celery
- We added the veggies to the now empty InstantPot bowl along with a Tb or two of butter, and let them sauté until softened.
- Then we returned the stock to the pot, along with the cut up chicken.
- Then we tossed in the remainder of an open bag of Medium Dutch Maid Egg Noodles (about 5 oz).
- We closed the pot and pressed Soup, setting the time down to 10 minutes.
- The resulting soup was so beautiful even in the pot we were amazed.
It was even better in a bowl. We served it with a loaf of Wave Hill Bread.
This recipe serves about 4.
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. Thus you are maximizing effective work time, the types of alkaline water and reducing the instances of staff needing to leave their work area to get a drink.
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
- Put all the ingredients in the pot liner, and fill with water to the Max fill line.
- 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
- When the 2 hours are done, let the stock cool naturally, which could take up to another hour, until the pressure has released.
- Using tongs, remove all of the large pieces of bones and veggies.
- 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.
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.
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Place the sliced onion in the bottom of an oven-proof casserole.
- Mince the garlic and add over the onions.
- Add the beef, brandy, stock, red wine and crushed ginger snaps.
- Sprinkle on half the parsley.
- Cover and bring to a boil on the stove top.
- Then place in the preheated oven and bake for two hours.
- Check to make sure the beef is tender. It may take a bit longer, depending on your oven.
- Serve over noodles or rice.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.