Guest Post by Camille of More Than A Wheelin
Imagine a world where a piping-hot, delicious meal appears on your dinner table instantly whenever you want. Your loved ones coo in delight over the savory fall-off the bone ribs, ooey-gooey mac and cheese, and rich chocolatey dessert.
Or maybe it’s lean chicken soup and a side of crisp vegetables that brings a smile to your family’s or your friend's faces. Everyone loves to eat!
Whatever the case, you feel satisfied because you provided a nutritious and delicious meal in no time flat with a miraculous kitchen tool called the Instant Pot. SURELY you have heard about it through your RVing friends by now?! It's an amazing modern day pressure-cooker. I sound like I work for Instant Pot, don't I? ????
I don’t, but I just love the heck out of this easy to use, nearly instant meal prep machine. It’s perfect for any household, especially the rolling kind like the one we live in.
It reduces the work required which can be difficult in a small kitchen. It takes little prep and time while resulting in great home cooked meals.
I discovered the Instant Pot like many people do, on one of those riveting TV infomercials. The one I saw was competitor brand. I couldn’t turn away from the diverse meals they showed: homemade meatloaf, a whole chicken, and even steamy fresh lobster with melted butter!
I thought to myself, “Seriously this thing cooks all of that and more? I must have one.”
But I am a sucker for a good infomercial. They make the world seem easy and everyone is so happy in them. Over the years I have purchased everything from must-have make-up kits to the “Set-It-And-Forget-It” rotisserie. Sadly, I have been disappointed almost every single time.
They were always complicated to use or hard to clean. So instead of buying the TV version I did some research and discovered the rave reviews of the Instant Pot. I learned it very quickly and started making meals day one, and I have never looked back.
Some people feel insecure about using it, but I assure it is very easy to learn. I’ll provide a quick definition of pressure cooking, an overview of my favorite functions, and provide one recipe for you to try.
What is Pressure Cooking
Let’s start with getting a better understanding of pressure cooking. Pressure cooking is a process by which food is cooked in a sealed container that is filled with some water or liquid.
Because it’s sealed, the pressure intensifies as the liquid boils and begins to steam. This cooks the food faster than conventional methods and prevents nutrients from escaping, thus creating healthier meals. It’s the steam however that used to freak people out in the old days when pressure cookers were used on an open flame.
The construction included a loose knob placed on the top of the cooker which would jingle and make all sorts of noise as pressure built up. The image of a meatloaf explosion probably caused some people, including me, to just say no to “pressure.”
Nowadays there are countless electronic pressure cookers that are quiet, secure, and take all that scary stuff out of the equation. If this is you in the kitchen, get an Instant Pot. End the runaround!
My Favorite Features
Now that you know what pressure cooking is, it’s time to learn some features of the Instant Pot. I won’t go into too much detail because much can be learned from the instruction booklet that comes with the cooker, and there are many resources online that go into more depth.
I’m a simple gal, so I use the pressure for primarily two things: sautéing and pressure cooking.
"Wait, it sautés?"
Yep, it sure does, right in the cooker with some oil or butter. I just put a little bit of either in the bottom and press the “sauté” button, let it heat up for one-two minutes and then sauté whatever ingredients I’m using.
This is a great feature because you don’t need an extra pan or any additional cookware, it really is an all-in-one solution. Even better you can brown meat right in the cooker too! After I sauté a few things then I move on to the main event, some kind of vegetables or meat.
I simply “cancel” the sauté function and press “manual” to turn on the pressure cooking function and then select low or high and the cooking time. Something I do a lot is the following five-step process:
- Press sauté on the Instant Pot
- Drop in some oil and one-two frozen garlic cubes (you can use fresh too but I like things easy)
- Place one cup of water in the pot
- Place cut up chicken bone-in or boneless
- Put on the lid and set the pressure cooking function for 15 minutes for boneless or 20 minutes for bone-in
That is seriously it! Time to eat!
After it cooks I can use that chicken for all kinds of things throughout the week: soups, shredded tacos, salads, etc. You can also have variations of this “recipe” by adding a jar of salsa, BBQ sauce or any other sauce to make a specific kind of meal.
This is just a simple example but there are literally countless and creative ways to use the Instant Pot. Other things you can do are use it as a slow-cooker, stews, rice, and even yogurt! This is another reason why I think it’s a great tool for a time space.
Pork and Squash Soup Instant Pot Recipe
Now that you have a handle on some of the basics, here is a slightly more involved recipe to try depending on how you approach it. There are two options with this recipe:
- Easier - Throw everything in together and the squash will be a bit mushy resulting in a creamier texture.
- More Involved - Put the squash in at the end for the last two minutes of cooking to keep it firm and more of a broth based soup (this is a little more involved because you have to bring the pressure down and then up again but either way your soup will be delicious!).
Ingredients For Instant Pot Recipe
- 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 4 carrots cut into chunks
- 1 cup chopped leeks (white part only)
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 medium butternut squash cut in chunks (acorn squash can work too) hint: pierce the squash a few times with a sharp knife and microwave for a few minutes to soften it up. It’s much easier to cut
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small can of tomato paste (use 1/2—1 can depending on how tangy you want it)
- 1 tablespoon thyme
|1||Press sauté on the Instant Pot (don’t worry about the timer)||NA|
|2||Saute the pork with the olive oil, then remove and salt and pepper generously||4 minutes|
|3||Put veggies in and stir until soft (If the bottom starts to brown put in a little vinegar, broth or water to soften it up).||2 minutes|
|4||Place pork back in the pot with the veggies and add the broth, spices, tomato paste, squash and stir.||1 minute|
|5||Press “cancel” put on lid and lock into place. Be sure that the knob on top is turned to sealed (NOT venting).||NA|
|6||Press “manual” and set for twenty minutes. It will take about ten minutes to come to pressure and then twenty will show on the display once it’s at pressure. Note: you will some steam escaping, but do not be alarmed, this is normal and will stop once pressure is reached.||20 minutes|
|7||At the end of the cycle, the will beep, you can turn the nob to “venting.” Note: Be sure to keep your hand out of the flow of steam. It’s hot! You can use tongs if that feels safer.||NA|
|8||After the steam releases, the pin will drop, and you can open the lid.||1-2 minutes|
|9||Top with your favorite garnish and enjoy!||NA|
I hope you enjoy pressure cooking as much as I do. Let me know if you tried this recipe or experimented with something else at https://www.morethanawheelin.com/contact/.