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Did you get any food-related gifts over the holidays? Or even better, cooking-related gifts? The Instant Pot, an electric pressure cooker, has been a very popular gift, so I thought I would take some time to look at pressure cooking recipes.

I received my pressure cooker for Christmas in 2018. I was on the fence about whether I wanted one, but when my mom told me she saw a great sale and would I be interested, I thought, “why not?”

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I can’t say I’m in love with the Instant Pot the way some people are, such as an acquaintance who mentioned to me that they bought two of them so they can run them both at the same time, but I have found some delicious dishes that the Instant Pot does help to make quite easily. I haven’t found any cookbooks I love for it, and I’ve scoured through the options at the library and a Barnes & Noble location, so when I find a good recipe, I hang on to it.

I find that the Instant Pot works best with fatty meats. Chicken thighs turn out great, but I have not found the best way to prepare boneless breast yet. Chuck roast turns out tasting like short ribs, which I find divine. And as for pork, I haven’t experimented that much with it yet.

Today, I have three new recipes for simple foods you might make another way, but can make in one pot and probably quicker with a pressure cooker.

First up, these beef burritos. This recipe highlights how you can use the sauté function on the Instant Pot and then go immediately into the pressure cooking without changing pans — which is definitely a feature that I wish my slow cooker had. (However, you can slow cook with an Instant Pot, but I haven’t tried that either.) You pre-brown the beef, add the spices, beans and veggies, then top it with rice and more broth and set it to pressure cook for 10 minutes. It takes about 10 minutes to build up pressure, 10 minutes to cook, and 12 minutes to release the pressure, so to me, you’re already up to at least 45 minutes of prep here, which is why I don’t usually find the pressure cooker to save that much time. But, this is a one-pot meal, so I’ll give it credit for that.

Next, I liked this recipe for pork and sauerkraut with apple. Pork (and sausages) really do go so well with sauerkraut, and adding a little apple helps sweeten it up. This recipe requires very little prep besides cutting the meat into large chunks and the apples and onions into small pieces, and it should cook in 15 minutes with another 15 minutes of pressure release at the end. So this really does give you the opportunity to make a Sunday supper on a Monday night.

And finally, I included this Tuscan white bean and lentil soup for some variety. Often recipes tell you lentils will be cooked in 20 minutes, and then they’re still so gritty tasting, but cooking them under pressure for 15 minutes should do the trick. Save the chard leaves to add at the end so they don’t turn into seaweed-like mush, then add fresh lemon juice for some acidity and Parmesan cheese for some umami flavor.

And if you have any must-try Instant Pot recipes or cookbook recommendations, please let me know!

Enjoy!

Instant Pot beef burritos

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cups low-sodium beef broth, divided

salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

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2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 pound lean ground beef

1 can (15-ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15-ounces) corn kernels, drained and rinsed

1 can (16-ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 cup Jasmine rice

Low carb whole wheat flour tortillas

Toppings: hot sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce and sour cream

Turn the Instant Pot on sauté setting and add the oil; once the oil is hot, add in the diced onions and cook for 1 minute.

Add in the ground beef, break it up with a wooden spoon, and season with salt and pepper; cook until browned.

Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Season with chili powder and cumin; stir around. Add in 1/4 cup of beef broth, stir and simmer for 1 minute.

Stir in the beans, corn, and tomatoes; stir until combined. Add the rice on top of the mixture, but don't stir. Add remaining broth over the rice.

On manual setting, set the pressure to HIGH for 10 minutes.

Close and lock the lid. Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to pre-heat and then the 10 minutes to cook.

Allow pressure to naturally release for 12 minutes, then turn to quick release.

Remove the lid and stir. Place the lid back on (powered off) and let stand for 5 minutes.

Remove lid and divide mixture between low carb tortillas and top with your choice of toppings.

Optional: Turn on the broiler. Wrap up the burritos and transfer to a lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Set under the broiler for 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve.

Instant Pot pork and sauerkraut

2-3 pounds pork loin roast

salt and pepper

16 ounces sauerkraut, drained of extra liquid

1 cup apple juice or chicken stock

1 apple, sliced

1 onion, sliced

1 tablespoon minced garlic, optional

Cut pork roast into large 2- to 3-inch chunks. Liberally season pork loin with salt and pepper on all sides.

Place pork pieces in the instant pot and pour in apple juice. Add apples, onions, and garlic to pressure cooker. Top with sauerkraut.

Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.

Once cook time has elapsed allow pressure to release naturally, or for at least 15 minutes.

Note: If you use chicken stock in place of apple juice, you may want to add 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar to balance the flavors.

Instant Pot Tuscan white bean and lentil soup

4 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth

2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup uncooked brown or green lentils, rinsed

1 cup water (increase to 2 cups for Instant Pot)

1 cup chopped yellow onion

3/4 cup chopped carrot

1 (2-inch) Parmesan cheese rind

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 bay leaf

4 cups coarsely chopped rainbow chard

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)

Combine broth, beans, lentils, 2 cups water, onion, carrot, Parmesan rind, garlic, thyme, pepper, salt, and bay leaf in Instant Pot. Cover with lid, turn lid valve to seal, and set to high pressure for 15 minutes.

Release valve with a towel (be careful of the pressurized steam), and release steam until it stops. Carefully uncover, and add chard and lemon juice. Stir until chard is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard cheese rind and bay leaf.

Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

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