When the hubby and I got married I got my very first crockpot. And, now you know just how long I've been married. Because back then, it was "crock pot" and not "slow cooker." Mine is covered in little flowers on a background of baby pink. I think that's called retro now . And it's actually been my ONLY crockpot. For over 20 years it was my "go to" for low and slow cooking. I'd fill it with big, tough cuts of meat and my slow cooker would coax them into tender melt in the mouth bites. Tacos, soups, stews, roasts.......the list goes on and on. My crockpot and I were besties.
And then along came the Instant Pot.
Sleek and refined, promising slow cooker perfection in even LESS time. So my crockpot was pretty quickly relegated to the top shelf in my garage. And I became all about the Instant Pot.
Now, with any new friend, there's a period of "let's get to know each other."
Finding out each others querks. Little hidden secrets.
So, if you've found yourself ditching your crockpot and spending a lot more time with your Instant Pot.............or if you have an Instant Pot, but aren't quite ready to form relationship, I've got some tips to help you get to know your IP.
Oh, and if you're just here for the recipe...............feel free to scroll on down to the bottom!
This is a big one. The Instant Pot promises to cook things quickly. And it does. BUT, you also need to allow time for the Instant Pot to heat to the cooking temperature. AND, you need to allow for the venting period. I've found it usually takes the IP about 15-20 minutes to reach temperature. I prefer the "quick release" feature, because, honestly, I get impatient. Especially, when everyone is standing around in the kitchen starving and asking when dinner is going to be ready. But, for testing purposes, I've also used the "natural release" method. The natural release is supposed to especially help when you're cooking meat. Using this method allows the meat to continue cooking while the IP cools down. Honestly, I haven't been able to notice much of difference in flavor OR texture using the natural release. I use it on occasion, but mostly use the quick release.
So when a recipe says cook _________ for 20 minutes on _____ setting, be sure to add about another 15-20 minutes to the total time.
Like I said a few paragraphs ago, my slow cooker is aaaaaaaancient. The insert is porcelain, so there was no sautéeing at. all. Now, with the IP there is a sauté setting which is absolutely fabulous. BUT, it is pretty darn aggressive. If you use this setting, be sure to keep stirring whatever you're sautéeing AND have the rest of your ingredients standing by ready to go.
This setting is fabulous for getting veggies tender, browning meat or chicken, but be sure not to use flour.
Which brings me to.............
NOT EVERYTHING IS MEANT TO BE PRESSURE COOKED
I've been testing out recipes in the IP for almost a year, and can absolutely, positively without question say that not everything is meant to be cooked this way.
Tender cuts of meat, like a tenderloin, will turn to mush. Better to keep them on the stove or in your oven. You'll want to stick with tougher cuts of meat that benefit with a longer cooking time to get nice and tender.
And speaking of meat, if you want to brown it first, flour is a big no. Flour has a tendency to coat the bottom of the insert, and you'll most likely get warning beeps before the IP turns off. If you want to brown your meat, add about a tablespoon (or 2) of oil, turn the sauté feature to high and then add your meat.
Also, if you're adding cream or cheese, you'll want to add them after the cooking is completely finished. Turn off the IP, and stir them in to your dish. The residual heat will help them melt and mix on in perfectly.
MY FAVORITE THING TO COOK IN THE IP
If you've read this far, you get my extra bonus tip. Which is finding out what I like to cook the most in my IP.
Soup. I'm blown away by the flavor infused in a soup made in the IP vs one made on the stove. Which is why I've got one of my absolute favorite (and easy) IP recipes and it happens to be, yep, you guessed it, soup. From start to finish, it takes me 30 minutes to make this cheesy broccoli soup. And that's from the time I open my fridge, to the time we sit down to eat it. Now, if I have to help with a homework question, feed the dog or pay a bill, then it's probably a bit closer to 45 minutes.
So, do you have an IP? Or are you wanting to get one and just haven't got around to it yet? For those who have one I'd love to hear what your favorite things to cook in it are! Leave a comment below and let's get the conversation started!
And if you haven't bought one yet.............run, do not walk, to the nearest store.....or order it online.
It's one of the work horses of my kitchen.
And my new bestie.
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- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 leek, white only, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 large head broccoli, rough chopped (including the stem - use the entire broccoli)
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (you can also use heavy cream) (optional)
- Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
With the IP sauté setting on high, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once it gets shimmery (watch carefully because it only takes a minute!), add the onion, garlic, leek, and celery.
Sauté until veggies get tender, stirring often, about 3 minutes.
Once the veggies are tender, add all the spices.
Stir to incorporate spices into veggies.
When spices are fragrant, after about 2 minutes, add the broccoli, broth and bay leaf.
Attach the lid and turn to seal the IP.
Pressure cook for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, use the "quick release" method. I like to use a long wooden spoon to open the valve. BE VERY CAREFUL and refer to your IP manual if you aren't sure how to do it. The contents inside have been under pressure, and the steam released through the valve can burn you.
At first there will be A LOT of steam released through the valve. It should take a few minutes to slow down. Once there is no more steam, carefully take off the lid.
With an immersion blender, purée the soup to the consistency you like. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can get the same results transferring the soup to a blender. Just be careful because the soup will be HOT.
After blending, taste and season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the lemon juice.
I like a little creaminess, so if you do too, stir in the coconut milk or cream.
Spoon into bowls and top with a large handful of Cheddar cheese. Or you can use a small handful. Or no cheese at all. Totally up to you!
This soup can be made in the morning and then reheated for dinner. This also is just as delicious eaten cold, straight from the fridge.