Tag: Instant Pot

Pork chops: Instant Pot versus oven

Experienced Instant Pot users often praise how well it cooks pork, but newer users are less complimentary, calling the result “tough and dry.” Finding pork chops on sale, we decided to run a side by side comparison. We cooked two chops in the oven, and one large extra one in the Instant Pot  using this recipe.

To add to the excitement, these were bargain pork chops, a “Manager’s Special” at $1.99 a pound. So each package of 2 chops was only about $3.

For the oven baked chops, we salted and peppered them, browned them briefly in a pan, and baked them for 20 minutes at 400° F. Figure that with the browning, this took about 25 minutes total.

For the Instant Pot recipe, we added a Tb of oil to the pot and browned the large chop using the Saute setting. Then we made up this sauce mixture from the recipe:

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 Tb Dijon mustard
  • ½ Tb maple syrup (we admit we used Log Cabin)
  • 1 Tb minced ginger
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves (we ground a couple in a mortar and pestle)
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

We mixed all this together and poured it over the chop. Then we set the Instant Pot to 15 minutes on Manual, and then opened it using Quick Release.

The result? Despite the fact that this was cheap pork, the Instant Pot chop was tender and flavorful, and the gravy was delicious!

And the oven chop was frankly overcooked, with a central temperature of about 177° F, when 141° F would have been enough. It was tough! But even if it hadn’t been over cooked, it couldn’t have matched the chop in the pot. This recipe is a real keeper!

This recipe has a strong, spicy smell, and you will need to wash the rubber sealing ring in your dishwasher, and wash the lid carefully afterwards.

Tomato sauce in an Instant Pot

Tomato sauce in an Instant Pot

A lot of recipes for the Instant Pot pressure cooker are just faster ways of doing the same thing, and add only a little advantage. We have found that you can not only make tomato sauce well in the Instant Pot, it’s a lot more efficient both in time and dishes used!

Previously, we made tomato sauce by cutting up the tomatoes into halves or quarters and then chopping them in a food processor. Then we cooked the sauce until all the pieces of tomato had softened before running it through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Then we cooked the resulting sauce with added spices until thickened.

The Instant Pot method is much simpler. Just cut the tomatoes in half or quarters and toss them into the instant Pot. Since the tomatoes collapse as they are pressure cooked, you can fill the pot right to the max if you have that many tomatoes. We didn’t have that many yet so our pot was really only loosely 2/3 full. We weighed about 4.2 lbs of tomatoes in this first run.

cookedThen pressure cook them for about 20 minutes.  We first tried 10 minutes and they weren’t quite soft enough, so we added 15 more. Probably 20 would have been plenty. Since the tomatoes in the pot are mostly in their own water and not near the steam release spout, you can safely use Quick Release. But letting the pot cool naturally won’t hurt anything.

food mill 1Then, place a food mill over another pot (sorry you still have to get two pots dirty) and scoop out the tomatoes.  They should mush up quickly in the food mill and go through to the pot below. The skins and seeds remain behind.

Add the following to the sauce in the pot. The amounts depend on your taste and the batch size.

  • 1 Tb salt
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 2-3 Tb chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tb chopped basil
  • 1 Tb oregano
  • lemon juice (1 Tb per jar)

Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 30-40 minutes.

 

Sterilize mason jars and new lids in a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain them on a paper towel, add 1 Tb of lemon juice or 1/4 tsp citric acid, and then immediate fill with hot sauce. Wipe off the rims to make sure the lids will seal. Put on the lids and screw them down.

Put the jars back in the boiling water and sterilize for 30 minutes. Remove the jars and let them cool, Make sure each lid “pops” and is concave.

canned

Now, while we didn’t have quite a full pot of tomatoes this time, we will soon. In fact, we usually can about 10 lbs at a time, and in this system, we would make one batch, run it through the food mill and then do another batch and run it through the food mill, and cook and can both batches of sauce at once. That’s way easier than the “old” way!

 

 

Coq au Vin in an Instant Pot

One thing you ought to be able to do really well in an Instant Pot is a stew, and while a lot of stews are really cold weather dishes, we decided that Coq au Vin would be fine in the fairly hot weather we are still having.

You can make this chicken wine stew using either red wine or white wine, but be sure you use a wine you would actually drink, since a cheap wine might well add an off taste to the resulting stew.

This recipe, adapted from Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cookbook, starts by flouring and browning the chicken pieces in oil and/or butter. We used olive oil. While you could do this using the Instant Pot Saute setting, you could only do a few pieces at a time, and would get another dish dirty while you cooked the other pieces, so we browned the pieces in a skillet before potting them up. The original recipe also called for 2 oz of warmed brandy to flame over the chicken before cooking, be we discovered we were out of brandy.

  • 1 4 lb chicken, cut into pieces
  • Flour for dredging
  • ½ cup butter or oil (we used olive oil)
  • 1 slice raw him, diced
  • 10 small whole onions (we used frozen ones)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 sprigs thyme
  • 1-2  springs parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 whole mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch in ¼ cup water.
  1. Shake the chicken pieces in flour in brown in a cast iron (or other) frying pan.
  2. Transfer the browned chicken to the Instant Pot.
  3. Add the ham, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, mushrooms, salt, and pepper.

in the pot

4. Add the wine, close the pot, make sure the steam vent is closed, and press the Poultry button.  The pot will heat and cook under pressure for 15 minutes.

5. Release the steam, remove the chicken pieces and mushrooms to a serving bowl and thicken the sauce with arrowroot or cornstarch slurry.

6. Put the sauce over the chicken and serve right away with rice.

We noted two things about using the Instant Pot on chicken: the dark meat is cooked correctly, but the white meat is overcooked. Since you can’t easily remove the white meat pieces while it is cooking, it is best to use all dark meat. If you use all white meat, you would need to reduce the cooking time to about 10 minutes.

Chicken fat on the skin does not render out very well in a pressure cooker, so it is better to remove the chicken skin before flouring and browning. Otherwise, you may end up with pieces of “flubber” in your stew.

Lemon garlic chicken in the Instant Pot

Lemon garlic chicken in the Instant Pot

This is mostly an experience report as the recipe is by Jennifer Robins, and is on her Predominantly Paleo site.  In spite of the fact the the Paleo diet is pretty much fiction, her recipe is very good. She suggests some weird oils like avocado, but having nothing to prove, we just used a little olive oil. And while she suggests organic chicken broth, we never buy organic. Any broth will do.

The Rice

riceSince the Instant Pot (IP) is also a rice cooker, we first made the brown rice and kept it warm. The IP has a Rice setting, but that is for white rice. For brown rice, we added a cup of rice and 1 ¼ cups water and cooked it for 22 minutes. Then we released the pressure and put the rice in a covered bowl under our warming light.

The chicken

Here’s her ingredients, slightly modified for common sense:

  • 1-2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped, or 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 large lemon juiced (more or less to taste)
  • 3-4 teaspoons (or more) arrowroot flour

We used a whole large lemon. Next time we’ll probably use half as much, as it was a little more sour than we hoped.

saute onionsThe nicest thing about the IP is that you can sauté ingredients in the pot before closing it up to cook. That makes it a lot easier and keeps you from getting too many pans dirty.

 

  1. Sauté the diced onions in the oil using the Saute button. At the last minute, add the diced garlic and let it cook briefly without burning.
  2. Add the chicken and the broth, wine and lemon juice
  3. Add the salt, parsley and paprika.

chicken and liquids4. Close the pot and press the Poultry button. The chicken will be done in about 15 minutes

5. Release the steam, scoop out about a half cup of broth and mix it with the arrow root. Add the mixture back to the pot.

6. Turn on the sauté to heat the broth and allow it to thicken.

7. Serve over the rice.

This whole operation, including cooking the rice, took about 45 minutes. Not bad for a midweek meal!

 

Hard boiling eggs in an Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot Skeptic

instant potThe Instant Pot is this year’s foodie must-have device. It’s basically a modern microprocessor controlled pressure cooker, but you can also use it as a slow cooker, a rice cooker and a vegetable steamer. And it’s not really very expensive. It sells for $119 but there have been sales from time to time.

We took advantage of a deal and ordered one. What to do first? We were intrigued by the idea that you could use the Instant Pot to hard boil eggs and that they would peel easily. Here’s one recipe, and here’s a slightly different one.

on rackIn both cases you can put up to a dozen eggs on the rack in the pot and pressure cook the eggs. One recipe says for 5 minutes and then let the pot cool for 5 minutes before depressurizing it. The other says cook for 8 and open right away. In both cases, you then plunge the eggs into icy cold water, which is supposed to shrink the egg away from the shell so it will peel easily. We tried this, using the first method, and finding the eggs a little dry, we cut back on the 5 minutes of resting to 2 minutes and repeating the experiment.

We also cooked 2 hardboiled eggs in a pan. The usual way to get peel-able eggs is to drop the eggs into boiling water, turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Then you plunge the eggs into ice water just as above.

So comparing, how did they turn out?

The Instant Pot cooked eggs peeled perfectly and looked very nice.

one crackedBut plunging eggs, cold from the refrigerator, into boiling water is a bit risky, and they may crack. If they were at room temperature, this probably would not have happened. The uncracked egg peeled perfectly, just as those from the Instant Pot did. The cracked egg was a bit more challenging to peel, as the shell stuck in a number of places.

Instant versus boiled

All four eggs looked very nice. We had selected cooking times that left the yolks somewhat moist in both cases. You could cook them longer if you don’t like them that way.

And how did they taste? Well, they tasted identical, but the whites of the pressure-cooked Instant Pot eggs were considerably firmer. You notice this biting into them, and if you press on the whites you will find significantly more resistance in the Instant Potted eggs.

But the very best eggs were made using the steamer function under low pressure. The timing is the same, but the whites are not hard and rubbery: thye taste like normal hard-cooked eggs.

5 minute egg steamWe also tried a couple of eggs, leaving them in for the full 5 minutes before releasing the pressure. This made much drier yolks, so we don’t recommend it.

The conclusion:  If I had a dozen or more eggs to cook (for Easter or Passover, for example) the Instant Pot does a great job.  If I had only two to do for myself, I’d probably just use the pan or a simple vegetable steamer.