Learn how to make the best use of one the hottest cooking tools to hit the market in years, the rapid-cooking, multi-tasking Instant Pot.
BY JENNIFER KORNEGAY STYLING/PHOTOS BY BROOKE ECHOLS
A few years ago, a new “must-have” kitchen appliance burst on the scene and gained fame at a rate that matched the product’s name. The Instant Pot flew off shelves and was THE gift to give the busy cook in your life. And while its fast-track to popularity followed the trajectory of any fad, this trend has enjoyed true staying power. The Instant Pot has held onto most of its initial admirers and keeps gaining new ones. And that’s because it’s not just one thing: It’s a multi-faceted meal maker that reduces the time and effort required to feed yourself or your family.
Now, don’t be deceived by its moniker: It does not deliver actual instant results, but it can do many things faster than other cooking methods, and this speed is its main appeal. It can cook large cuts of tough meat fast with fork-tender results. In only about five minutes, it cooks rice to perfection. While it can also function like your trusty “set-it and forget it” slow cooker, on its most-used setting, it gives traditional “low and slow” dishes that “all-day” flavor much faster, sometimes cutting the cook time for these comfort faves in half. You can use it simply to warm foods too. And it even has a yogurt-making button (although online reviews for the results of pushing this button are mixed).
It evokes the excitement of advanced technology with new recipes, new cookbooks and food bloggers and reviewers using words like “life-changing” to describe it. But it’s really just a versatile, revised take on the not-new-at-all pressure cooker. When it’s working like a pressure cooker, it uses a high-pressure atmosphere to increase water’s boiling point from the standard 212 degrees to almost 250 degrees. This cooks foods quicker but also pushes liquid into them, keeping them juicy and tender. This is the same method employed by yesterday’s pressure cookers, the ones that sometimes garnered headlines by exploding. But thanks to built-in features that make it impossible to open its sealed lid until the pressure has been released (an issue with past pressure cookers), the Instant Pot adds increased safety to its list of pros, a list that keeps attracting Instant Pot buyers.
We’ve got some Instant Pot devotees among our readers, and they’ve shared their favorite recipes this month. Whether you’re already in the fan club or you just joined, give them a try.
Paige Gaines, Central Alabama EC
Paige Gaines got her Instant Pot two years ago, but admitted that she was initially hesitant to use it. “I was actually scared of it for months, but I finally decided to give it try. After one or two uses, I was hooked,” she said. Now, it’s a fixture on her kitchen counter, and she cooks in it three to five times each week, even if she’s only using it to cook rice or boil a big batch of eggs. “I mostly use it in the pressure cooker mode to make one-pot meals, like the recipe I submitted,” she said. “The Cajun Sausage Potatoes and Green Beans is truly a full meal, and it’s just so easy, and so tasty.” She suggested adding some rolls or Texas toast to go with it, and while she likes the Cajun sausage her recipe calls for, she encouraged others to substitute their favorite kind. “A lot of people love Conecuh sausage, and I’m sure it would work well too,” she said.
¾ cup chicken broth
1 twelve-ounce package Cajun-style andouille sausage
2 pounds red potatoes
2 16-ounce packages frozen green beans
½ pound fresh mushrooms
3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons salted butter
Pour chicken broth into Instant Pot. Cut sausage into thin ¼-inch slices. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Cut off the ends of the frozen green beans. Chop and add mushrooms. Add the sausage, potatoes, green beans and mushrooms to the Instant Pot. Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper into the pot. Toss with a spoon. Cut the butter into 8 pieces and toss them into the pot. Cover the pot and secure the lid. Be SURE the valve is set to “sealing.” Set the manual/pressure cook button to 3 minutes. (It might take 15-20 minutes for the pot to come to pressure). When the timer is up, perform a quick release by moving the valve to venting. Remove the lid when you can. Gently stir the contents of the pot. Scoop onto serving plates or bowls and enjoy. May be served with or over rice.
1 frozen bone-in turkey breast, thawed
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic power
¼ teaspoon chili power
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon rosemary, crushed
½ large onion
1 apple (any variety), washed and halved
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups chicken broth or water
*Seasonings can be increased or decreased depending on personal preference
Marinate thawed turkey in salt water brine or apple cider at least 12 hours; drain. Combine all seasonings and spices. Loosen turkey skin and rub seasoning under skin (depending on size, additional seasoning may be required); reserve some seasoning for cavity. In pot, turn turkey breast skin side down. In cavity sprinkle remaining seasoning and place half of a large onion, halved apple and 3 tablespoons butter. Pour 2 cups of chicken broth or 2 cups of water. Seal Instant Pot and set on pressure cook for 1½ hours. When timer runs down, pot will stay on low for 10 hours. Remove from pot and debone, strain liquid for gravy or for dressing.
Deborah Spain, Marshall-DeKalb EC
Instant Pot Orange Chicken
2 pounds chicken breast or thighs cut into 1-2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice, no sugar added
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
6 cloves garlic,* minced
1 tablespoon rice wine or dry white wine
1/2 cup tomato sauce, optional
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup lite soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha, optional
Zest from 1 orange
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons orange juice
4 green onions, sliced
Extra orange zest
It is important for the chicken not to have any extra moisture, so dry it with a few paper towels and cut the chicken into 1-2-inch chunks.
Heat up your pressure cooker: press Sauté; click on the Adjust button; select More to get the Sauté More function, which means that the food will be sautéed over medium-high heat. Wait for the Instant Pot indicator to read HOT.
Add the oil to the hot Instant Pot, add the chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring a few times. Cook until it just starts to get golden. When sautéing it, stir constantly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Also, after you sauté the chicken, check if bits are stuck to the bottom. In that case, deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup orange juice and scrape them with a wooden spoon. If you leave the bits stuck to the bottom, they may burn or cause the pot not to come to pressure. (If you want a truly golden-brown chicken, brown it on the stove top, as the Instant Pot isn’t really good for that.)
Add the sauce ingredients to the pot (remaining 3/4 cup of orange juice, minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, white sugar, brown sugar, rice wine, orange zest and Sriracha sauce). You can skip the Sriracha sauce, or add more if you prefer your food on the spicier side.
Add the tomato sauce if you are using it. (The tomato sauce adds a tanginess to the overall sweet recipe, and it makes it taste more savory. It is based on your own preference.) Stir gently until all the ingredients are combined and coated in sauce. Close lid, select Manual, and select 5 minutes on High Pressure. Make sure the vent is closed. Use a 10-minute Natural Release. Turn off the heat. Release the remaining pressure by opening the vent. Open the lid.
Select again the Sauté function, on LOW. In a medium bowl combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with the orange juice, whisk until all combined with no lumps. Add the mixture to the Instant Pot and gently stir to combine. Cook on Sauté function for a few more minutes, stirring gently, until the sauce thickens. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. If you want the sauce even thicker, mix one more tablespoon of cornstarch with orange juice and add it to the pot. Let the Orange Chicken stand for 5-7 minutes; the sauce will thicken more. Serve over rice and garnish with fresh chopped green onions and extra orange zest.
*I love the extra garlic in this dish, but for some people it may be too much, so can use 3-4 cloves if you are not a huge garlic fan.
Marsha S. Gardner, Baldwin EMC
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound sweet red cooking apple (Pink Lady, Rome or Fuji), peeled and diced
¼ – ½ teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
4 tablespoons melted butter
¾ cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
Put sweet potatoes and apples into Instant Pot and mix. Top with cinnamon, salt and water. Stir. In separate bowl, mix melted butter, oats, flour, sugar and salt. Drop by spoonful onto the top of sweet potato and apple mixture. Cook for 20 minutes on high pressure. Use a natural release.
Pam McGehee, Baldwin EMC
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