Return Of The Instant Pot

The Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1 8 Months On

Instant_Pot2

So, I have been using my Instant Pot since the beginning of the year and it has since become part of my normal workflow.

I tend to use it for things that take advantage of its “set-in-and-forget-it” capabilities more than anything. In reality, you can “set it” and kind of “forget it” briefly. Which means you need to remember to release the pressure when you need to or some things will become overcooked.

Anyway, I use it use it most often for cooking sides and such while working on the main dish.

It is now my go-to pot for making rice while I am preparing an entree in one of the stovetop pots. If I am making a cup of rice (dry measurement), I still prefer my copper sauce pan, but if I am preparing 1-1/2 cups or more, I use the instant pot. And if I sauté some onions and substitute a can of Ro-Tel for some of the water, I have Spanish Rice in 4 minutes under pressure.

Making potatoes is a breeze also. Either mashed, steamed or boiled, the Instant Pot makes quick work of it.

Instant_Pot_Inside

After 8 months, I can’t remember the last time I used one of the programs. For the most part, all the programs do is set the time for a certain length. If it is not the exact amount of time that you want, you need to adjust anyway, so I find it easier to always use the manual setting.

I do use the sauté feature. One entree I find easier to make in the InstantPot is pasta. I just brown some ground beef or Italian sausage using sauté, add in some pasta, sauce and enough water to cover the pasta, switch to manual pressure mode and in 4 or 5 minutes under low pressure I have a complete dinner ready.

In fact, anything that requires low pressure I find myself gravitating to the InstantPot. Instead of trying to catch it at just the right moment and keeping the flame adjusted at the perfect amount to maintain low pressure, I just set the Instant Pot for low pressure and don’t have to worry about it.

Hard “boiled” eggs is another thing that comes out better since I have had the Instant Pot, because of the low pressure setting.

For one pot meals such as chili, stew and soups I still turn to the 7-quart Kuhn Rikon. The 6-quart capacity of the Instant pot is just a tad too small for these things.

I still haven’t gotten around to using the yogurt making feature, but that is still on my mental to-do list.

Instant_Pot1

Like my Fissler, I wouldn’t want the InstantPot to be my only pressure cooker, but in combination with my others, it is a very useful tool.

This doesn’t mean that for others, the InstantPot wouldn’t make a good “only” pressure cooker, and it would probably be a good place to start for many, if not most users. It can be quite a bit less intimidating if you have never used a pressure cooker before. But for me, I find the 7-quart stove top cooker to be more versatile.

The removable pot makes clean up a cinch. I have read some complaints that the silicone seal tends to hold odors and takes on a bad smell, but I haven’t had a problem at all. The seal gets washed after each use, and I haven’t once noticed any lingering odors.

The Pressure Cooker Poll Votes Are In!

And The Winner Is…

YLM_PC

I would like to thank everyone who responded to my informal poll last week. I got enough responses to tell that the majority of you like to have a variety of different posts, and not just recipes.

Which is to say that I will continue the Wednesday posts and try to add even more variety. One thing I am working on is to make some videos of select recipes, which would be part of the Wednesday rotation.

I am also planning on revamping the format of the blog just to make it look a little nicer and to be a little easier to navigate. Of course this is going to take a little time, but I hope to introduce the changes over the next year or so (or maybe less if I can find the time.

But stay tuned, and hopefully you will find the changes are for the better!

Make It A Pressure Cooker Summer!

Don’t Let Your Pressure Cooker Take The Summer Off!

PC_VACATION

As soon as the warm weather starts moving in, I’m sure that one thing on the minds of many is “Good, I can put away the long johns, the heavy sweaters, the winter coats, and the Pressure Cooker.

Just because it is Summer is no reason to give the old PC the entire summer off.

One day last week as I was making dinner, I realized that I had just used two pressure cookers to make a salad! I was making a “steak” salad, which also had some green beans in it. Just one minute in the pressure cooker and the beans were perfectly tender-crisp. As for the “steak”, chuck was on sale at the market for a price too good to pass up. Since chuck can be a little tough if you try normal steak-cooking methods, I braised it in some beer in the pressure cooker for about 30 minutes, and it was tender as all get-out.

It’s true that I don’t use the pressure cooker to make as many complete meals as I do in the cooler months, but I often use it to get things prepped for my summer meals.

The shorter cook times and lower heat keep the temps in the kitchen at a reasonable level.

What can you use the pressure cooker for in the summer?

Well, I just happen to have some suggestions:

You can “steam” potatoes for potato salad, which is a lot quicker and cooler than letting water come to a boil, tossing in the potatoes and then boiling for 20 minutes or so.

Try hard “boiling” eggs, for use in egg salad, the aforementioned potato salad, as well as many other salads. And it makes them so easy to peel.

Par-cook vegetables such as green beans and corn in a matter of minutes.

Make a big pot of “baked” beans to take to your picnic. It’s far better than canned, and keeps things a lot cooler than cooking them in the oven.

I almost always cook pasta in the pressure cooker now, too. Make pasta salads in half the time (or less).

I’m sure there are many other ways to use the pressure cooker in the summer months.

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments.

 

A Word On Pressure Cooker Maintenance

Pressure Cooker Maintenance. Do as I say, Not as I do! 

InstantPot_Gasket

I was reminded last week of the importance of checking your pressure cooker before each use. Sometimes I tend to get a bit lackadaisical until something happens that suddenly snaps me out of it. In this case it was nothing particularly dangerous, but if I could make a dumb mistake like this, who knows what else I am capable of?

I was cooking up a batch of rice to make some fried rice. I put the rice and liquid into my InstantPot electric pressure cooker, put on the top, set the timer and walked away for a bit. I went into the kitchen to check on it, and pressure still hadn’t been reached. “Hmmmm, it usually doesn’t take this long”, I thought. That was when I noticed steam was coming out from the entire circumference of the lid. I scratched my head for a second, then happened to glance to my right, where there in the dish rack was the silicone seal for my InstantPot. “Crap! How could I make such a rookie mistake?”

I turned off the cooker, removed the lid and found a mess. Soggy rice, a good deal of it stuck to the bottom of the pan. It wasn’t burnt fortunately, and I may have been able to salvage some of it, but it was such a mess and I was so angry with myself that into the trash it went, 1-1/2 cups of rice wasted.

Which brings me to the topic at hand. You should check out that everything is in working order before each use. Make sure the seal is inserted properly and that the valves and seals are moving as they should.

On one of my pressure cookers, the handles have a tendency to get a little loose. So that is another thing to check. If a handle is loose, tighten it. Loose handles and hot liquids are a recipe for disaster, as they say.

I still have scars on both my feet from a boiling water accident last year (not pressure cooker related, but another one of those “wake up calls”).

If you notice something is starting to look a bit worn, such as gaskets, o-rings, etc., order a new part and replace it.

On my first pressure cooker, which is approaching three years old. I have replaced every part on the lid over the past couple years. Gasket, o-ring, plastic valve parts, you name it. These are mostly moving parts and withstand high heat, so they wear out eventually.

By just giving everything a once over before each use, you will enjoy your pressure cooker for many (safe) years.

Sneak Peek – Yellow Split Pea Soup

Yes, Another Pea Soup Recipe

Yellow_Split_Peas

I know, I just recently posted a recipe for split pea soup, but that was green. This is yellow.

When I posted that recipe, I was unaware of the existence of French Canadian yellow pea soup. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I was going to have to make some. With my French Canadian heritage (among other things), I felt it was my duty to make this dish.

So, even though I recently posted a green split pea soup recipe, the cooler weather and possible rain that has been forecast for us makes this the perfect time to make some more pea soup!

So stop by on the weekend for my Yellow Split Pea Soup recipe, eh?

Pressure Cooker Tafelspitz

The Austrian Boiled Beef Dish Done The Pressure Cooker Way

Tafelspitz Plate2

Considered by many to be the national dish of Austria, Tafelspitz is basically beef boiled with root vegetables and spices. There are also several traditional sauces that it can be served with. I made an Apple-Horseradish Sauce to go with this one, and I have to say, it was tasty!

Austrian cooking tends to include a lot of sausages and various fried things, so this dish can be considered Austrian health food (ok, maybe not if you make potatoes fried in duck fat to go with it as I did, but I also served it with pickles, so that cancels out the duck fat. Right? Right?)

Tafelspitz Ingredients

I used the traditional tri-tip (which in Austria is also know as Tafelspitz), but you could use some brisket or top round. Unless it has an unusually large fat cap, just leave the fat on, or trim off just some of it. I used a two-pounder, because as seems to be the case lately the store didn’t have a three pound one (three pounds is about as large as tri-tip gets).

Tafelspitz Meat

Since this dish is traditionally boiled, it is one of the rare instances where I don’t brown the meat before pressure cooking.

The root vegetables can be a little flexible if you cannot find something. Just throw in an extra carrot or parsnip. I used two parsnips, two carrots, two celery stalks, and this is where it stops sounding like Noah’s ark, because I only used one small bulb of celeriac (celery root) and one leek. All the vegetables will be strained out later, so I didn’t bother peeling the carrots or parsnips. The celeriac I did peel, because I was getting tired of looking at its ugly mug. It is not the most attractive of veggies. I trimmed most of the dark green off the leek, cut it in half and soaked it a bit in some water, since leeks can be rather dirty.

Tafelspitz Veggies Cut

The treatment of the onion seems to be very specific, and who am I to stray from tradition? The onion is cut in half, unpeeled, and browned on the cut side in a hot skillet with no oil until well browned, almost scorched. After this process, I pulled off the loose outer skin and rinsed and dried the outside of the onion.

Tafelspitz Onion Charring

I peeled and crushed five cloves of garlic a bit with the side of a knife.

After the browning and chopping and whatnot, throw it all into the pressure cooker with twelve cups of water, ten peppercorns, six juniper berries and two teaspoons of beef flavored Better Than Bouillon (you can substitute a couple cups of beef stock for two cups of the water and the BTB).

Tafelspitz Onion Charred

And as seems to be the norm with most of my recipes, toss a couple of bay leaves in, put the top on the cooker and set heat to high.

Tafelspitz Everything In Pot

When high pressure is reached, adjust heat to maintain high pressure and set time for 40 minutes.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the apple horseradish sauce. A lot of recipes use fresh apples and freshly grated horseradish, but I cheated by using unsweetened applesauce and prepared horseradish.

Apple Horseradish Sauce Ingredients

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together 1 cup applesauce, 1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (to taste, and depending how hot your horseradish is), 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon sour cream and 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Taste, and add 1 tablespoon honey if needed. Stir well, cover and put in the fridge until ready to serve.

Tafelspitz Finished

When the time is up, let the pressure come down on its own for 10-15 minutes then do a quick release.

Remove the meat to a plate to rest, and strain the broth. Taste the broth very carefully (it will be very hot) and add salt and pepper to taste.

Tafelspitz Resting

Slice the meat against the grain a bit on the thick side, pour a little broth over it (the broth is sometimes also served as a soup, but I didn’t do that).

Tafelspitz Sliced

Now, don’t forget about that apple-horseradish sauce in the fridge (which I came very close to doing) and top the meat with a couple dollops. You can also serve some on the side in case anyone wants more (this recipe makes quite a bit).

Tafelspitz Plate4

I served with duck fat fried potatoes. Boiled and buttered small potatoes would also go well with it. You can also add a vegetable, but I just went with pickles.

Serve with a glass of Grüner Veltliner or an Austrian beer such as Gösser or Stiegl.

Prost!

Pressure Cooker Tafelspitz
Print
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Austrian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-4 servings
A pressure cooker version of Austria's national dish. Traditionally boiled, the pressure cooker cuts down the time significantly.
Ingredients
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots, washed and cut in 2" chunks
  • 2 parsnips, washed and cut in 2" chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and cut in 2' chunks
  • 1 leek, cleaned then cut in half lengthwise
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2-3 lb. tri-tip roast
  • 2 teaspoons beef flavored better than bouillon
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
For The Apple-Horseradish Sauce
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey (taste first, you may not need it depending on how tart your applesauce is)
Instructions
  1. Pour 12 cups of water into the pressure cooker pot
  2. Add everything to the pot, except salt and pepper (adjust after cooking)
  3. Put top on pressure cooker and turn heat to high
  4. When high pressure is reached, adjust heat to maintain high pressure
  5. Set time for 40 minutes
  6. When time is up, take pot off heat, let pressure come down on its own for 10-15 minutes, then do a quick release
  7. Remove the meat to a plate to rest
  8. Pour broth through a strainer to remove vegetables and spices
  9. Taste broth (carefully, it will be very hot) and add salt and pepper if needed
  10. Slice meat against the grain on the thick side
  11. Top with Apple Horseradish Sauce
For The Apple Horseradish Sauce
  1. In medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until combined (taste and add honey, if needed)
  2. Cover and put in fridge until needed

A Few Minutes With Pressure Cooker Convert

Considering a Pressure Cooker? Pay no attention to the naysayers!

Pressure Cooker Angry Mob copy

I admit it, I’m no Andy Rooney, but I like to think that I can complain with the best of ’em. To that end, I have noticed an alarming trend lately when it comes to discussion boards on cooking.

Sometimes while doing my extensive research on the interwebs (I sacrifice so you don’t have to, you’re welcome), I come across conversations on some of the cooking forums such as this:

Q: I would like to cook a whole chicken in a pressure cooker. Does anyone have any tips? (Any type of meat, grain or vegetable can substituted for “chicken”. The answers are always similar, no matter what.

And every time, most of the answers are along these lines:

Yes, my tip is DON’T.

Why would you want to ruin a good chicken?

You will end up with a pot of mush!

Why would you want a dry flavorless chicken?

Cook the chicken in the oven, and if you MUST use the pressure cooker, make some beans to have with it.

Judging by the answers, it is unlikely that a lot of these folks have never used a pressure cooker at all. It has just been ingrained into their consciences that a PC is something to be feared. An evil, black magic-possessed pot sent here by the devil to do his bidding for him.

They might as well be saying “And risk eternal damnation? I think not. I will just continue using my usual, time-intensive methods of preparing food. And as my family sits down to enjoy a weeknight dinner shortly before midnight, I will thank my lucky stars that I was not lured over to “the dark side” with one of those infernal devices.”

Though I guess  if everyone that says they have experienced an exploding pressure cooker is telling the truth, then sure, there may be reason to be cautious. But the cookers these days have multiple safety features on each one. And the electric models not only have the safety features, but it is also impossible to set the heat too high.

So, instead of giving any kind of constructive advice, these people are not only afraid to try something new, they make it their duty to stop others from trying something new as well. WELL, STOP IT!!!

I’ve been using pressure cookers for a few years new, and I’ve done a lot of experimenting. I admit that some of the experiments have had better results than others, but over these few years never have I ended up with a “pot of mush” or “dry flavorless (insert dish here).

So if you are considering a pressure cooker, pay no mind to the naysayers on some cooking forum. Come on, try it! You won’t be sorry!

 

Sneak Peek – Stout Braised Chuck Roast

Coming This Weekend!

Stout Braised Chuck Roast

A spicy take on Chuck Roast. I started out planning to make classic pot roast with potatoes and carrots and the whole nine yards, but changed my mind because I had just picked up some new spices I was itching to try out.

I used a Berbere spice blend in this particular recipe such as this one and this one, or this perhaps.

You can also make your own like this.

Or you can just fake it.

Details to come one the weekend. See you then!

Too Many Pressure Cookers?

Of course not! There is no such thing as too many pressure cookers!

Pork_Polenta_Kale

Last night, it suddenly occurred to me that I may have a problem. I was in the middle of preparing dinner when I realized I had three pressure cookers going at once. I thought nothing of it as I was getting everything started, it was just when I realized I was monitoring the time on three different devices when it hit me.

Some folks think about it a long time before deciding whether they really need just one pressure cooker. What will I do with it? Do I really like beans that much?

Fissler Pressure Cooker

I like a good one-pot meal as much as the next guy, but when I’m cooking I tend to reach for a pressure cooker more often than any other pot or pan, no matter what I may be preparing.

So I guess it makes sense that if I am preparing three different things, I reach for three different pressure cookers.

I see each of my PCs as being better at certain things than the others. Last night for instance, I prepared Pork Tenderloin with a Balsamic Pan Sauce, Kale with Onions and Garlic, and Polenta.

As with any long, flat piece of meat, I immediately turned to the Fissler pressure pan. It’s wide, shallow depth is perfect for such a dish. And the bottom surface just seems to brown things a little better. Part of it is because the pan is wider, so I get more surface area without cutting the meat into smaller pieces.

InstantPot Pressure Cooker

I have been using the Instant Pot for anything that should be cooked at low pressure, because it is easier to just set it to “low” and put in how much time you need, than closely watching the stovetop cooker waiting for it to hit the low pressure mark, then adjusting the flame just right so it doesn’t creep up to high pressure (not that it’s that difficult, but when I have the option to be lazy, then that’s the option I’ll take!)

My Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker is  my largest at 7 liters, so anything that needs the room goes in that one. I used it for the Kale last night, since it takes up a lot of room (and very little room by the time you take it out).

KR Pressure Cooker

When I first got  the KR, I planned on purchasing the 5 liter, but for some reason the 7 liter was slightly cheaper on Amazon at the time. Do I need such a gigantic cooker, I thought? Once it arrived, I realized it wasn’t giant at all. Since you can only fill a pressure cooker 2/3 full (and 1/2 full for starchy items such as beans and grains), I realized it wasn’t too large at all. In fact sometimes I consider getting a larger one as well.

But for now, my little pressure cooker family of 3 works just fine.

What was my point? Oh yeah, there is nothing wrong with having several pressure cookers. No, not at all. It’s very healthy in fact. Yeah, that’s it. It’s good for you. No, I don’t have a problem. Not at all.

Pressure Cooker Convert Anniversary!

Pressure Cooker Convert is One Year Old!

DSCF8330

Today marks a full year since I became so enamored with my new pressure cooker that I decided I wanted to spread the word by starting my own pressure cooker blog!

And I must say it’s been a lot of fun, but I have found that running a cooking blog is much more difficult than doing a bicycle blog, which I had previously done.

I think I have made some improvements in recipe writing since I started, and hopefully will continue to improve. And with any luck, maybe eventually I will be able to take a photo of ingredients without forgetting to include something (baby steps).

And I still have a lot of work to do to get this blog where I would like it to be. My goal is to eventually post twice a week. The issue with that is that I don’t think I would be able to come up with two brand new recipes each week.

I am trying to come up with other useful pressure cooker information to post, besides just recipes. The thing is that other people have already posted definitive versions of things such as timing charts, etc., so for me to post similar information would just be redundant. In fact, I am always referring people to the information contained on hippressurecooking .com, which probably has anything you would ever want to know about cooking times, equipment, etc.

I have already made the decision to include some non-pressure cooker side dish recipes if it is for something that complements the pressure cooker main dish. I think I will also start adding some reviews (fully biased, of course) of the equipment that I use, so that I might help others with making their decisions when purchasing a pressure cooker.

I haven’t been posting nearly as often as I would like, due to a couple other projects going on that I have been fighting for my time.

A few months back, someone made the suggestion that I should record a lot of the songs that I wrote back in my rock and roll days that never got recorded, and at the time it sounded like a good idea. But, being me, what started out as a plan to do an album of simple, acoustic versions of my songs quickly turned into a full-blown Phil Spector meets Brian Wilson style production extravaganza.

If anyone is interested, here are a couple of SoundCloud samples of what I’ve been working on:

Just In Case

Tailspin

Besides this, in order to support my recording habit, I am trying to thin out my Hawaiian shirt collection by selling some of them on eBay.

And if that’s not enough, I apparently “volunteered” to do the art and layout on a quarterly literary magazine without even being present.

Add to that my actual job and I have been pretty busy.

All that being said, I still have plans to increase my posting frequency on this blog and hope to bring you more tasty recipes during the coming year.

I still keep both pressure cookers on my stovetop at all times, and use at least one of them almost every night.

What would you like to see posted on Pressure Cooker Convert in the coming year?

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

-Michael