Sunday, April 23, 2017

Instant Pot Madness

Here's my Instant Pot wisdom of the day and my chicken cacciatore recipe.

If you're thinking about getting one, join the Instant Pot Community on Facebook.  Be ready to be inundated with a million posts, thereby missing some of your REAL friends posts.  I stayed connected just long enough to gather some information, then UNFOLLOWED.    I discovered the best place for recipes is  Pinterest, not so much.  Lots of recipes, but lots of fails.

Most of the posts are from people without brains.  I apologize in advance, but really ... how many times have you put ingredients in your crock pot WITHOUT the insert, then turned it on and left the building.  Not many, I'm willing to guess.  If you are looking for a recipe, scroll back through the posts, or better yet, go to the Instant Pot Community page and use the search function.  Please don't ask how to boil eggs ... it has been asked literally a million times!!   I'm happy to answer any questions I can .. just send me a message.
The pot you see here is a 5 quart size, more than enough for me or a family of four.  The next size up is a 6 quart ... no bigger around, just taller.  If you are cooking for an army that lives in your neighborhood or you want soup for the next year, buy the 8 quart.

There are basically TWO models, or types of Instant Pots.  The DUO 50 (5 qt) or 60 (6 qt) and the LUX.  Don't buy the Lux.  It has a lid that is much harder to handle and put in place.  It has less buttons to play with and will only cook some things with a complicated recipe of pushing said buttons.  The DUO is the Nikon of pots ..... the LUX is that old brownie camera your mother had.  Trust me on this one because I have BOTH.  I don't recommend any other brand (there are many) and they have MANY problems.  Customer service on the IP has been terrific so I have read.

When you cook in the Instant Pot, you must ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS (emphasis on always) have at least one cup of water or liquid in the pot.  Otherwise, there won't be enough steam to get to pressure.  If you are following an Instant Pot recipe, you should be okay.  You're grandmothers chicken recipe may not work so well.

Just like the old fashioned pressure cooker I have in the cupboard, these new ones have silicon rings in the lid.  A weird trait of silicon is it sucks up the smell of whatever you are cooking.  I personally don't mind since I like smelling the chicken I cooked as I walk by the stove two days later.  The problem comes when you bake cheesecake in the same pot and it comes out tasting like chicken and garlic.  For that reason, order the colored silicon rings ( so you can switch them out when you cook something sweet.    Blue for sweets, red for meats.
The questions always arise ... what accessories should I get?  Besides the rings (and the trivet that comes with the pot), I suggest a wire basket.  This one HAD metal handles that easily break off, making it a perfect fit for the pot.  Okay, not as easy as they made it sound ... it took me fifteen minutes of twisting and pulling.  It's plenty big for a crowd of green beans or cut up potatoes for salad.  The little feet are not tall enough .... place the trivet inside the pot and put this on the trivet to keep the water AWAY from your potatoes.
The Push Pan (like the old fashioned cheesecake pans) is a must.  Springform pans work too, but a smaller size is required due to the spring sticking out a little too far.  This pan is good for any number of things, like cakes, cheesecakes, lasagne, tamale pie, quiche, egg casserole ... just about anything you can imagine.  No one said lasagne had to be in a square pan.  Just a note here ... if the recipe calls for foil to be put over the top ... like cheesecake or chocolate cake ... be sure and not miss that step.  Otherwise you will have a soggy water-logged cake from all the water dripping from the lid onto your cake.  In fact, I have covered everything I cooked in this pan.
So here's the chicken cacciatore recipe.  You can also cook it in your crock pot, it will just take all day versus 30 minutes.

2 pounds boneless chicken thighs 
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp tomato paste (rest goes in freezer for next time)
1 red bell pepper
8 oz sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 sm can black olives (add after cooking is complete)

Select SAUTE function on your instant pot and wait for it to say HOT.  Add in the oil and brown the chicken for a minute or two.  Remove from pot.  Add a tiny bit more oil if needed and toss in the onion.   Keep stirring (I use a wooden spoon) until all the good bits are off the bottom of the pot.  If you don't get all the bits off the bottom, they will burn, giving a lovely inedible taste to your chicken.  Add in the garlic.  Hit the CANCEL button which turns the pot off.

Add in the tomatoes, vinegar and spices, giving it a quick stir.  Top with chicken and remaining vegetables with broth going in last.  Secure the lid and select the manual button.  It will automatically cook on HIGH but you have to adjust the time.  The default on mine is 30 minutes, so after hitting the manual button, I keep hitting the minus sign ( - ) until it gets down to EIGHT minutes.  Be sure the valve on top is set to SEALING and walk away.  For this recipe NPR for 5 minutes, then QPR, both described below.  Stir in the olives before serving.

That's it ... just let it go.  You may or may not hear a little steam escaping ... you may or may not hear the valve closing.  Once the pot reaches pressure, it will automatically start counting down the time you set.  Be patient ... full pots (never more than 2/3 full) take longer to reach pressure.

Once done, it beeps at you and begins the count UP for the NPR ... natural pressure release.  In other words, it will release the inside pressure naturally and the pin will drop, allowing you to remove the lid ..... OR ..... you can quick release the pressure QPR by lifting the valve, whereupon the steam will come screaming out until the pin drops.  Don't do this with your fingers, for obvious reasons.  I use the same wooden spoon to GENTLY lift the valve releasing the pressure.   Once the pin drops,  dinner is served, after you stir in the olives!! 

As with all cookware, it takes a little getting used to.  Sometimes that steak my mother cremated took 30 minutes to burn to a crisp, sometimes 40.  It's the same with the Instant Pot.   If the contents aren't done to your satisfaction, replace the lid and start it again for maybe an additional 5 minutes.  There's a little bit of trial and error the first several times you BAKE in it ... although my cheesecake, chocolate cake and flan came out perfectly every time.    Beginner's luck!!!

Another tip .... never Quick Release meat, even if the recipe tells you to.  The meat is sitting in your pot, all relaxed and happy until you release the pressure quickly, in which case it tightens up like the charlie horse in your calf at midnight ... and it will stay that way, TOUGH as nails.  Let the pot count up to at least 10 minutes before releasing the pressure for your meat to remain happy and tender.  Not so much for chicken, but definitely for any other kind of meat.

The book that comes with the unit is basically worthless.  I haven't found an Instant Pot cookbook yet, but I'm on the hunt.  In the meantime, I use PAPRIKA (iPhone app) to capture recipes from Facebook and the internet on my phone.  Works like a charm.  

Tomorrow ... critters you can sleep with!!!


  1. Thanks for the recipe and for the review of the Instant Pot. I made baby back ribs in mine last night. Yum!

    1. I have tried them yet Carol, but everyone says they come out yummy!!! So many recipes, so little time!!!

  2. Great advice on the rings, always good to have a backup. The recipe sounds great. I bookmarked the sites you suggested.

    1. There's one more ...
      They seem to have a lot of the recipes I've copied to Paprika.

  3. When I got my IP I didn't order the strainer but I probably should have but target has a OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer, Green with two big handles which works really good
    I like the idea of color-coded silicone rings

    1. There are lots of silicone products coming out for Instant Pots. Glad you found something that will work. GREAT for green beans!!!

  4. Thanks for all the Instant Pot info, that will give me a start.

    1. I hope you like your IP as much as I do mine, Ray. Another website is

  5. First thing tomorrow I have to go to Les Schwabs then I'm heading for Target to get my OXO Good Grips Silicone Steamer!!! Thanks girlfriend.

    1. You are SO welcome!! Many stores are starting to carry silicone products since the IP market is expanding so fast!! ENJOY!!