How to Instant Pot: Mastering All the Functions of the One Pot That Will Change the Way You Cook by Daniel Shumski, EPUB, 1523502061

December 4, 2017

How to Instant Pot: Mastering All the Functions of the One Pot That Will Change the Way You Cook by Daniel Shumski

  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
  • Publication Date: October 31, 2017
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06X3QKWLG
  • ISBN-10: 1523502061
  • ISBN-13: 978-1523502066
  • File Format: EPUB

 

”Preview”

Acknowledgments

My second-favorite thing about food is its power to bring people together. I’m just being real here; my favorite thing about food is its power to be so freaking delicious.

As with food, writing a cookbook brings people together. This book could never have happened without the work and wisdom of a lot of people. It’s tough to find the words to say how grateful I am, which is awkward because my job is, you know, finding words. But here we are.

Let me start by saying thank you to Amy Matthews and Kerrie Ahern, whose attention to detail and kitchen know-how saved us all from some recipe blunders.

Without exaggeration, every book of mine owes a debt of gratitude to Megan Nicolay, who took a gamble on a waffle blogger a few years back. I hope she thinks it paid off.

Kylie Foxx McDonald, the editor of this book, who has been such a good sport about the twists and turns along the road to publication: Now that the book is out, I promise not to email or call you for at least a week. That’s pretty much the best thank-you gift ever, no? (Full disclosure: I originally wrote “for at least a month,” but I’m trying not to set myself up for failure here. So I rolled it back. Talk soon!)

My thanks also to Rachael Mt. Pleasant for her behind-the-scenes heavy lifting. Probably I should be thankful to her for doing work I don’t even know about, which is so often the work for which a person should be extra grateful.

I am so appreciative of Chloe Puton, Rebecca Carlisle, Selina Meere, Kate Karol, Ian Gross, and too many others to name at Workman Publishing for the amazing work they do to help put this book in people’s hands and kitchens.

Thank you also to Becky Terhune, Anne Kerman, and the people at Waterbury Publications for making me look good and making it look easy.

You want to know who’s really been a good sport? The guy who asks, “What’s for dinner?” each night and never has a cross word to say about the answer. He’s the same guy who told me that he believed in me when I was halfway through writing this book and I couldn’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you, Bryan.

My agent, Stacey Glick, has been a trouper about dotting i’s and crossing t’s and I’m very grateful to be able to work with her.

Nicholas Day and Mark Lucera have been so patient, smart, and good-humored. I wonder if they know how much I appreciate that. They do now, assuming they read this book.

This is probably a good place to mention that my mom bought me my first Instant Pot as a birthday gift. Neither of us had any idea where it would lead, but now this book is a thing. I can’t help but feel that I owe her big-time for something beyond that first Instant Pot, though—maybe it’s the decades of unwavering support? That’s probably it. I love you, Mom.

Contents

Introduction

How to Use This Book

Chapter 1 Instant Pot Basics

• Meeting Your Instant Pot: Equipment and Set-up

• Function and Button Overview

• How to Speak Instant Pot: Deciphering the LCD Readout

• Converting Your Favorite Recipes to the Instant Pot

• Cleaning the Machine

• Instant Pot FAQS

Chapter 2 Pressure Cooker

• How a Pressure Cooker Works

• How a Pressure-Cooker Recipe Works

• The Differences Between Instant Pot and Other Pressure Cookers

• Pressure-Cooker Tips and Potential Pitfalls

• Recipe Timing

• High-Altitude Modifications

• Pressure-Cooker Safety

• Pressure-Cooking Tips and Tidbits

• The Recipes

Chapter 3 Slow Cooker

• Why Use a Slow Cooker?

• Temperature and Timing

• Converting Traditional Recipes for the Slow Cooker

• Slow-Cooker Tips and Pitfalls

• The Recipes

Chapter 4 Rice Maker

• What’s Different About the Rice Cycle?

• Temperature and Timing

• Is There a Magic Rice-to-Water Ratio?

• Measurement

• The Recipes

Chapter 5 Yogurt Maker

• What Does the Yogurt Function Do?

• Yogurt-Making Basics

• Making Yogurt in Containers

• Yogurt Experimentation

• Yogurt Troubleshooting

• The Recipes

Chapter 6 Steamer

• What’s Different About the Steaming Cycle?

• Valve Position and Quick Release

• Other Uses for the Steam Function

• The Recipes

Conversion Tables

General Pressure-Cooking Times

About the Author

Introduction

Maybe your initial reaction to seeing the Instant Pot was like mine: “It does all those things? Really? Hmm. . . . Okay. But does it do them well?”

Was the Instant Pot just a trendy kitchen appliance trying to tackle too much? I already owned a slow cooker. And I could steam things and make rice on the stovetop. True, I didn’t own a pressure cooker. But neither did I own an Elvis costume. Was either really necessary? Bottom line, did I need an Instant Pot?

As it turns out, the answer was yes. (For the Instant Pot, not the Elvis costume.)

Yes, to yogurt that all but makes itself while I sleep. Yes, to dinners I can prep in the morning and leave to cook all day. Yes, to dried beans that I can make for dinner without the foresight to presoak them. Yes, to steaming vegetables without having to fiddle with the stovetop temperature. Yes, to rice that comes together quickly without moving it on and off the heat. Yes, to things I couldn’t have imagined I would be saying “yes” to: quick-pickled vegetables, no-fuss hard-boiled eggs, mulled cider.

In short, yes to the Instant Pot.

On the day my Instant Pot arrived, I opened the package but had only begun to unwrap the mystery. I was excited but . . . what had I gotten myself into? I grasped the idea of the Rice button, but why was there a Porridge button? What were the valves on the lid for?

How did I use this thing? I know how to bake, boil, skillet, and waffle (I’ve written books on the last two). But how to Instant Pot?

Cooking in an opaque, sealed chamber requires a culinary leap of faith. After the lid is locked tight, you can’t cook by sight or smell. Was I willing to take the plunge? Sure, but I had two goals:

1. Don’t ruin dinner.

and

2. Don’t anger the machine.

I was willing to sacrifice No. 2 if it meant that No. 1 could be accomplished.

I’m here to tell you that you can have it both ways. Not only that, you can take advantage of a unique and useful tool that may nudge its way onto center stage in your kitchen and change the way you cook. In short, you can master the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot presents a new paradigm even for experienced cooks, but it’s one that you can master regardless of your experience or comfort level in the kitchen. While there is a bit of a learning curve, this book is here to make it more of a gentle slope—and one that lets you eat as you progress.

The Instant Pot is useful but not immediately intuitive. That’s where this book comes in. The main functions of the Instant Pot are covered—pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer—as well as the auxiliary functions that allow you to sauté food and to keep food warm.

You’ll learn:

• What the buttons mean

• How to decipher the LCD screen

• How to convert your favorite recipes for the Instant Pot

• How to clean your Instant Pot

• How the Instant Pot is different from other pressure cookers

• Which optional accessories you might want for your Instant Pot

In short, you’ll learn how to Instant Pot. Now, let’s get cooking.

How to Use This Book

This book arranges its chapters by function. You have a machine that offers many functions in one. What better way to master those functions than by breaking out and exploring each one separately? Of course, two functions are used mainly in conjunction with others and do not have their own chapters:

• The Sauté function plays a key role in many slow-cooker and pressure-cooker recipes.

• The Keep Warm function can serve a valuable purpose, but is perhaps less useful on its own.

For information on how to use each, see Instant Pot Basics.

Chapter 1

Instant Pot Basics

Meeting Your Instant Pot: Equipment and Set-Up

Function and Button Overview

How to Speak Instant Pot: Deciphering the LCD Readout

Converting Your Favorite Recipes to the Instant Pot

Cleaning the Machine

Instant Pot FAQs

Look, I get it. You were hoping this book would help you avoid reading the Instant Pot manual. If that’s the case, go to your happy place (puppies! kittens!) as you read this next bit: While this section covers the basics of the Instant Pot and hits the highlights of using and maintaining the machine, it’s worth looking over the manual that came with it. There won’t be a test later, but you might learn a few things.

The following pages cover all the ins and outs of this marvelous (and occasionally maddening) machine, but if it all feels like a bit much, take heart—the chapter introductions explain the use of each of the pot’s main functions, and the recipes tell you which buttons to push and when. No guesswork needed.

One final note up front: The recipes in this book were developed for a 6-quart Instant Pot (models IP-DUO60 and IP-DUO Plus60). They can also be used with the IP-Ultra (see About the Instant Pot Ultra).

Meeting Your Instant Pot: Equipment and Set-up

Although the specifics vary depending on the model of Instant Pot and manufacturer modifications, the Instant Pot includes everything you need to get started:

Stainless steel inner pot: The dishwasher-safe inner pot is the bedrock of Instant Pot cooking. Everything happens inside here. Although one is included, it can be useful to have more than one if you use the Instant Pot frequently. (I have five. Wait. Did I just admit that?) A second inner pot can be useful if you want to slow-cook or pressure-cook an entrée and then quickly make some rice to go with it—in this case, you would carefully lift out the hot, just-used inner pot and insert the fresh one. Covered with plastic wrap or the optional silicone cover, the inner pot may also be used to store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Lid and anti-block shield: The lid, largely black plastic on the top, contains the pressure-release valve and anti-block shield, which is the removable metal cage-like piece on the underside. There are no electronic components inside the lid; it’s all mechanical and safe for the dishwasher (see Cleaning the Machine).

Silicone sealing ring: The heatproof sealing ring fits snugly on the inside of the lid. It helps seal the Instant Pot and allows it to build pressure. Because the ring can absorb cooking odors, some Instant Pot owners find it useful to have more than one (say, one for cooking seafood and other pungent items and one for more neutral foods such as rice), and fortunately they’re pretty inexpensive. That said, with proper cleaning the silicone ring has never posed a problem for me with intermingling food aromas.

Stainless steel steaming rack: This rests on the bottom of the inner pot and supports a steaming basket (not included) so that the basket does not sit directly in the water or other steaming liquid. Without a basket, the steaming rack can be used for larger foods, such as potatoes and eggs.

Condensation collector: This transparent plastic cup slides into a slot on the side of the cooking base and prevents condensation on the lid from dripping down around the Instant Pot and making a mess when using the slow-cooking function.

Rice paddle and soup spoon: You may prefer a deeper ladle for soups and stews, but the rice paddle does come in handy for scooping and stirring.

Measuring cup: Though this is standard-issue with the Instant Pot, note that it is not a standard 8-ounce cup. A large glass or sturdy plastic measuring cup with a handle is generally more useful.

Taking Measurements

The measurement marks on the inner pot are correct for liters but not for standard 8-ounce cups. Instead, those cup lines are designed for use as a rough guide for the amount of water to add for the number of “cups” of rice. Why “cups” in quotes? Because it refers to the included Instant Pot plastic cup, which is 6 fluid ounces, or three-quarters of a standard 8-ounce cup. The bottom line? Ignore the markings on the inner pot and use standard measuring cups and spoons. (Some versions of the inner pot have liters and quarts rather than cups marked; those are correct, but I still find it easier to rely on my measuring cups.)

Another quirk of the markers on the inside of the inner pot: On some models, the “maximum” line near the top is useful for slow-cooking but is not intended for pressure-cooking, when the inner pot should be filled no more than two-thirds full for most foods, or halfway full for foods that expand during cooking such as dried beans or grains. Some inner pots have clearly marked lines that show half full and two-thirds full.

Optional Accessories

Check online or at a retailer that sells the Instant Pot for the following items, which are not always included and may help you make better use of your machine:

Silicone steaming basket: While it’s sometimes possible to steam food directly on the included metal steaming rack, many foods are too small and will fall through the slats, making a steaming basket a welcome addition. A metal basket will work if it’s the right size, but silicone is my material of choice because it is flexible. I also like that it is dishwasher-safe.

Glass lid: Useful for slow-cooker recipes, the glass lid allows a view of what’s happening inside the Instant Pot. It cannot be used for pressure-cooker or steamer settings because it does not seal tightly enough.

Mini silicone mitt: Any oven mitt can be handy for removing the inner pot or steaming basket—but the miniature one offered by the manufacturer is particularly handy for safely gripping the lip of the very hot inner pot.

Silicone cover: This tight-fitting cover from the manufacturer seals the inner pot for refrigerating leftovers.

Setting Up Your Pot

Before using the machine to make a meal for the first time, you’ll want to clean the equipment (minus the electronic base) and then do a test run. This introduces you to the buttons of the Instant Pot, cleans out any residue from the manufacturing process, and ensures your machine is working properly.

1. Install the silicone sealing ring in the lid by pressing the groove in the silicone ring into the metal ring on the inside of the lid.

2. Place 3 cups of water in the inner pot and place the inner pot in the appliance.

3. Close and lock the lid: Fit the part of the lid with the Sealing/Venting indicator into the enlarged portion of the appliance’s lip with the arrows on it. Turn the lid clockwise until it won’t turn any farther.

4. Make sure the black pressure-release valve on the top of the lid is pointing to Sealing.

5. Press the Steam button on the control panel and use the – or + button to set the time to 2 minutes.

6. As the Instant Pot builds pressure, steam may be released from the valve on the lid until the small metal float valve pops into place to seal the unit. This is normal. It will take about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure and seal itself, at which point the timer will begin counting down.

7. When the countdown ends, the machine will beep and the pressure will begin to dissipate. You won’t see any steam, but some clicking sounds are normal. Wait until the small metal float valve next to the pressure-release valve sinks back into the lid and the lid is no longer locked, about 25 minutes; this means the pressure has been released. Remove the lid by turning it counterclockwise and then lifting it up.

Function and Button Overview

Your Instant Pot has five main functions (excluding the preset buttons which, as you’ll see here, are not all that useful):

• Pressure cooker

• Slow cooker

• Rice maker

• Yogurt maker

• Steamer

The Instant Pot also features two auxiliary functions used mostly in conjunction with the modes listed above:

• Sauté

• Keep Warm

Main Function Buttons

These buttons get to the heart of the many functions of the Instant Pot. Note that one of the functions of the Instant Pot—rice maker—gets its own button (“Rice”), even though it’s often best to use the Manual or Pressure Cook button to make rice.

Slow Cook: This function should be familiar to anyone who has used a slow cooker. After pressing Slow Cook, the Slow Cook or Adjust button switches among low, medium, and high temperatures and the – and + buttons adjust the cooking time. For details, see the Slow Cooker chapter.

Manual or Pressure Cook: The name of this button may vary depending on the model, but the function is the same: It’s the pressure-cooking button. It begins a pressure-cooking program and allows you to set the time using the – or + buttons. All of the pressure-cooking recipes in this book use this button.

Yogurt: This button has three settings: pasteurizing milk, making yogurt, and making a fermented rice dish called Jiu Niang. For details, see the Yogurt Maker chapter.

Sauté: This button is used—always with the lid off—to sauté or brown meat or vegetables before slow-cooking or pressure-cooking. It can also be used after slow-cooking or pressure-cooking to reduce the volume of liquids. With this function, the Sauté button itself or the Adjust button changes the cooking temperature (to “Less,” “Normal,” and “More”).

Steam: This button comes with three preset times; the Steam or Adjust button cycles among cooking times of 3, 10, and 15 minutes. I place this button in this category because steaming is one of the basic functions of the Instant Pot. For details, see the Steamer chapter.

About the Instant Pot Ultra

The Instant Pot Ultra features the same fundamental features as other Instant Pot models and works beautifully with the recipes in this book, with a few differences:

New Controls: The Ultra features a dial and just two buttons. The dial doubles as a button in that you can press it. Turn the dial to select the function, then press the dial and use it to select temperature and time. Lock in your selections by pressing the dial again. Press the Start button to begin cooking.

Venting vs. Sealing: The valve is automatically set to Sealing when you lock the lid in place. To select Venting, press down for a moment on the black Steam Release button. (It says “Press” on it.) That locks the button into the Venting position.

Pressure Release: Natural release occurs as described in this book—just let the appliance release pressure slowly on its own. For quick release, use the same black Steam Release button as above. Note that while it is a separate button from the valve where the steam emerges, be careful of that steam, which will be released from the large black steam release valve nearby.

The Ultra Function: This model’s namesake function allows the Instant Pot to maintain a constant temperature and allows you to experiment with cooking sous-vide, though it is not a replacement for a proper sous-vide immersion circulator. (The Ultra allows the temperature to fluctuate 5 degrees Fahrenheit and does not circulate the water.)

The Ultra adds a few nice-to-have features, too: A digital readout keeps you posted on the Instant Pot’s cooking progress. You can also set your elevation (this adjusts cooking times automatically for you if you’re using a sea-level recipe) and switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit. To access these settings, press and hold the dial.

Modifying Buttons

These buttons are generally used in conjunction with the function buttons to select settings or timings. I’ve given you the basic rundown below, but each recipe specifies exactly which buttons to press and in what order, so no need to memorize any of the following.

Pressure or Pressure Level: Once a pressure-cooking cycle has been selected, this button switches between low and high pressure. The recipes in this book use only high pressure. This button has no effect on the Slow Cook, Sauté, or Yogurt functions.

Adjust: Whether your Instant Pot has this button will depend on the specific model. The purpose of this button depends on the function selected. Most commonly in the recipes in this book, it is used to change the temperature of the Slow Cook and Sauté functions. It is also used to change programs in the Yogurt function. For models without this button, pressing the cooking function button again generally performs the same Adjust function. (For example, rather than press Sauté and then Adjust to change temperatures, just press Sauté again.)

Timer or Delay Start: This button allows you to delay the cooking start time for all programs except Sauté and Yogurt. First, select the desired cooking function and time. Then, within 10 seconds, press this key and use the – or + buttons to set the delay before cooking. Two caveats:

• This can be convenient but tricky to use with foods such as beans, rice, and oatmeal, since the soaking time will shorten the ultimate cooking time. Experiment to find what works for you.

• Do not use this setting with perishable foods such as meat or fish. Even frozen meat or fish may hover at unsafe temperatures before the cooking begins.

Keep Warm/Cancel: On models where this is a single button: If the Instant Pot is being programmed or is in use, pressing this button cancels the program and turns the Instant Pot off. When the Instant Pot is off, pressing this button activates the Keep Warm function. Once Keep Warm is activated, the display counts up, allowing you to keep track of how long the function has been on.

On models where these are two separate buttons: The Keep Warm button controls whether the Instant Pot enters Keep Warm mode after it finishes cooking. The light on the top of the button will be on when it is selected. The Cancel button ends cooking at any time or turns the machine off. (Note that if you press Cancel during pressure-cooking, you still must safely release the pressure before opening the lid.)

A Note About Cooking with Fruits and Vegetables

Whether your produce is organic or conventional, it’s crucial to wash it. Here’s why:

• You’re washing your fruits and vegetables not just because of how they’ve grown, but also how they’re handled afterward. Produce can pass through a lot of hands on its way from the field to the market—and not all of those hands have been thoroughly washed. The least you can do is wash the produce before you eat it.

• Even in cases where fruits and vegetables will be peeled, they should be washed first. When cutting into the peel, bacteria from the surface can cling to the knife and be transferred to the part you eat.

• Produce that’s being cooked should still be washed. While high temperatures may kill bacteria, you’re trying to cook the food, not sterilize it. Also, cooking may not eliminate dirt and pesticide residue.

• And, yes, even organic fruits and vegetables should be washed. “Organic” doesn’t mean that something has been grown in a vacuum. The produce may still have things on it that you don’t want to eat. (Example: Birds frequent fields and, well, they do what birds do. Enough said.)

So You Want to Sauté

The Sauté function is a big part of what makes the Instant Pot so convenient and is key to many recipes in this book. In simplest terms, the Sauté function can do much of what a pan on the stovetop can do—without creating more dishes to wash. While some slow-cooker recipes out there would have you sauté aromatics such as onion and garlic separately on the stovetop before adding them to the slow cooker, in the Instant Pot, you can do this right in the inner pot.

Timing

Unlike other functions, there is no time setting for the Sauté function. Once selected, the Sauté function will remain active for up to 30 minutes. The readout will display “30” and will not count down. The recipes in this book call for pressing Cancel and switching to either pressure-cooking or slow-cooking well before the 30 minutes have elapsed.

Heat Settings

The Sauté function has three settings. Pressing the Adjust button cycles among:

• Less: 221°F

• Normal: 320°F

• More: 338°F

There is no easy way to equate these settings to stovetop heat levels, but it helps to think of them as low, medium, and high. Keep in mind that the difference between “Less” and “Normal” is about 100°F, while the difference between “Normal” and “More” is only about 20°F. Rely on your senses and lower the temperature if you see or smell something burning.

Uses for the Sauté Setting

• Browning or softening aromatics such as onions or garlic before pressure-cooking or slow-cooking

• Browning meat before pressure-cooking or slow-cooking

• Thickening sauces or soups after pressure-cooking or slow-cooking

• Finishing beans that are slightly underdone after pressure-cooking

Things to Know

• Always use the Sauté function with the lid off. If the lid is locked on, the display will show “Lid.”

• The display will show “Hot” when the Sauté function reaches temperature, but you can begin cooking before that. If you want an idea of how hot the inner pot is, flick a bit of water on it and see how quickly it “dances.”

• Do not leave the Instant Pot unattended while using Sauté mode.

• Food browns better when it has a little breathing room. If the inner pot is crowded, consider browning in multiple batches.

Tip: Turn off the beeping. The Instant Pot likes to beep—when you start a cycle, when you finish a cycle, when the lid goes on, when the lid comes off. . . . On some models, the sound can be suppressed by pressing and holding the – button for 4 seconds when the Instant Pot is plugged in and turned off. The display will show “S Off” to indicate that the sound is off. Enjoy the silence. (But note that some safety alert noises cannot be turned off.)

The Keep Warm Function

Keep Warm is the function that you can use without even knowing it. I’ll explain: After the Instant Pot completes its slow-cooking, pressure-cooking, or steaming cycles, it switches automatically into Keep Warm mode. (On some models, you can control whether it does this or not by pressing the Keep Warm button, which will light up when this feature is activated.) The Instant Pot will then keep the food between 145°F and 172°F for up to 10 hours.

Keep Warm can also be activated manually by pressing the Keep Warm/Cancel button and then adjusting the time using the – or + buttons.

The USDA says that if you are not serving hot food right away, it should be kept above 140°F to avoid the temperature danger zone in which bacteria can thrive. While the Keep Warm setting does hold food at a safe temperature, some dishes do better than others at those temperatures. Rice, for instance, may scorch if left on the Keep Warm cycle. The recipes in this book are best left on Keep Warm for no more than 1 hour. After that, vegetables may get too soft, meat may begin to dry out, and evaporation could reduce any liquid. A better idea for keeping food warm for short periods (say, during dinner): Turn off the machine and keep the lid on. The trapped residual heat will keep the food warm without danger of scorching.

Preset Buttons

These are the buttons with food-specific labels (e.g., “Bean/Chili” or “Poultry”). They correspond to pressure-cooking times preset by the manufacturer. When it comes to pressure-cooking, the recipes in this book use the Manual or Pressure-Cook button to help you learn typical cooking times for various ingredients and allow you to easily fine-tune the cooking times. Don’t worry too much about the preset buttons. There is nothing magical about them; the Instant Pot cannot, for example, sense when your beans are cooked. In other words: You can use all the functions of your Instant Pot without ever touching these preset buttons. (Saying that means a lot of people will skip this section; I can live with that. See you in the next section!)

Soup or Soup/Broth: This is a pressure-cooking function designed for making soups and broths. Pressing the button again or pressing the Adjust button cycles among 20, 30, and 40 minutes. (On some models, the highest setting is 4 hours rather than 40 minutes.)

Meat/Stew: This is also a pressure-cooking function designed for meats (other than poultry) and stews. Pressing the button again or pressing the Adjust button toggles among 20, 35, and 45 minutes.

Bean/Chili: Like the two buttons above, this pressure-cooking preset can be modified by pressing the button again or pressing the Adjust button—to 25, 30, or 40 minutes—with a longer cooking time yielding softer beans.

Cake: This is a pressure-cooking preset on some models that can be modified by pressing the button again to cycle among 25, 40, or 50 minutes.

Egg: This pressure-cooking preset, available on some models, is intended for extra-large eggs and can be cycled among 4, 5, or 6 minutes.

Poultry: This is a pressure-cooking preset on some models with a default shorter cooking time of 15 minutes meant for poultry. The Adjust button also lets you select 5 minutes or 30 minutes.

Rice: This is a pressure-cooking preset that uses low pressure to make white rice. It adjusts the cooking time slightly according to the amount of rice. The manufacturer recommends rinsing and draining the rice before placing it in the inner pot with a 1:1 rice-to-water ratio. Because there are many kinds of rice and varying cooking times, I prefer to use the Manual or Pressure-Cook button. For details, see the Rice Maker chapter.

Multigrain: This pressure-cooking preset is meant for cooking wild rice, brown rice, and other long-cooking grains. Pressing the Multigrain button or the Adjust button modifies the program: Pressing it until the “Less” setting is selected gives 20 minutes of high-pressure cooking. The “Normal” setting gives 40 minutes of high-pressure cooking time. One quirk: The “More” setting provides a warm soak for 45 minutes followed by 60 minutes of cooking at high pressure. This may be used for very hard dry grains, such as hominy or pozole.

Porridge: This pressure-cooking preset uses the Porridge or Adjust button to cycle among 15, 20, and 30 minutes.

Sterilize: This button, available on some models, performs three functions. “Less” performs no-pressure sterilization at about 180°F. “Normal” performs low-pressure sterilization at about 230°F. “More” performs high-pressure sterilization at about 239°F. Note that while recipes for canning meats typically call for a pressure canner, that is not a safe and approved use of the Instant Pot or this function.

How to Speak Instant Pot: Deciphering the LCD Readout

The digital readout can cause some head-scratching. Some terms that might pop up on the screen:

Boil: After pressing the Yogurt and Adjust buttons, this appears on screen to indicate that the milk in the inner pot will be boiled.

C1, C2, C6: The Instant Pot’s electronics are malfunctioning. Contact customer support.

C5: The temperature is too high, either because the inner pot is not properly in place or because there is no liquid in the inner pot.

Hot: When using the Sauté function, this appears after the selected temperature is reached.

Lid: This flashes on the screen when the lid is not in the correct position for the selected program, either open for Sauté or closed for pressure-cooking.

NoPr: If this is displayed, it means the Instant Pot cannot build any pressure. Be sure the silicone sealing ring is installed in the lid and the pressure-release valve is set to Sealing (take care because the machine and food may be quite hot). Check that there is sufficient liquid in the inner pot. If you are starting with frozen food, it may be that the Instant Pot did not reach pressure quickly enough and gave up; try running the program again.

OvHt: The Instant Pot has detected overheating. Cancel the cooking program, safely release any built-up pressure (see Quick Release), and check to see if there is food burnt to the bottom of the inner pot.

Yogt: This means the Instant Pot has completed either the first step of the yogurt-making process (boiling—which generally takes 30 minutes) or the second step of that process (gentle heating—typically 8 hours).

Converting Your Favorite Recipes to the Instant Pot

While the recipes in this book are tailored for the Instant Pot, not every recipe out there is. There is no magic formula for converting a recipe to the Instant Pot, but these guidelines and a little experimentation will help.

Two tips upfront:

• Save yourself some hassle and take notes on what works for a particular recipe.

• There is a learning curve, but it can be fun to experiment. And the lessons build upon one another; converting your tenth recipe will be much easier than your first.

Tips on Changing a Recipe from Slow Cooker to Pressure Cooker

You may already have a slow cooker and some favorite slow-cooker recipes. You’ll be happy to discover that many of those recipes can be modified to work in the Instant Pot’s pressure-cooker function, taking a fraction of the time and turning out the same tasty results. This means that, say, the stew that slow-cooked all day can be ready in about an hour. Keep in mind these tips (and refer to pages 22–27 for more of the nitty-gritty on cooking under pressure):

Templates: Use the recipes in this book as guidelines. If you find a pressure-cooker recipe with similar ingredients to those in your favorite slow-cooker recipe, try substituting your ingredients and using the pressure-cooking timing and instructions as the guiding method.

Timing: As a very general rule, dishes based on beef, pork, or lamb made in 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low in the slow cooker can be made in 30 minutes in the pressure cooker. Poultry-based dishes may need only 20 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Weight: The total weight of meat does not affect pressure-cooking time, but the size of the pieces does. So, for example, if you’re cooking beef and lentils together, try cutting the beef into pieces that will be cooked through at the same time as the lentils (see the charts here for some general guidelines).

Staggered cooking times: Sometimes it won’t be ideal to change the size of the meat, and the cooking times of components will be different enough to require two stages. A recipe that includes, for example, cubed beef and cubed potatoes could be done in two parts: Cook the beef for 30 minutes, then release the pressure. Next, add the potatoes and pressure-cook everything for 5 minutes more. The principle here is that the 5 extra minutes of cooking time for a tough, stewing cut of beef will not do it any harm, whereas overcooking the potatoes by 25 minutes may make them unpleasantly soft. If the recipe also includes aromatics such as onion, garlic, or herbs, add those early on so that they can contribute their flavors to the meat as it cooks.

Liquids: While most recipes for the slow cooker include liquid, it is particularly important to double-check the amount when translating the recipe to the pressure cooker. The recipe should include at least 1 cup of liquid, whether water or broth. Keep in mind that too much liquid can also be an issue: Because there is practically no evaporation when pressure-cooking, all the liquid added will stay in the dish. In some cases, this may result in a dish being too watery. Consider cutting the amount of liquid slightly or reducing the liquid by cooking the dish on the Sauté function after the pressure-cooking has finished.

Frozen meat: Although cooking frozen meat in a slow cooker is discouraged because the meat may hover at unsafe temperatures while it warms, that is not a problem in the pressure cooker because the pressure and temperature are higher. Note that this works best with chunks of meat; a large frozen roast may cook unevenly, even in the pressure cooker. As a rule, add 50 percent to the normal cooking time when using frozen cubed or ground meat. Always check the temperature of the finished meat to verify that it is thoroughly cooked. In some instances, frozen meat may mean that the Instant Pot displays “NoPr” and doesn’t reach cooking pressure. (This is because the appliance only allows so much time to come to pressure and frozen food can slow the process.) If this happens, don’t be deterred, just start the pressure-cooking cycle over again.

Thickeners: If using flour or starch to thicken a recipe, always add this after the pressure-cooking cycle. Adding it before pressure-cooking risks burning the starch on the bottom of the inner pot.

Dairy: If a slow-cooker recipe calls for cheese, milk, or cream, add these ingredients after the pressure-cooking cycle to avoid curdling.

Alcohol: Red wine can be great in a slow-cooker stew, but keep in mind that in a pressure cooker there is no opportunity for the alcohol to evaporate. If your recipe calls for red wine, try cutting the quantity in half and reducing the wine using the Sauté setting before starting the pressure-cooking. Beer quantity can be maintained, but you’ll want to evaporate some of the alcohol: Allow some of the liquid to reduce using the Sauté setting after the pressure-cooking cycle.

Overall volume: Remember that when using the pressure cooker, the inner pot should not be more than two-thirds full, or half full for recipes with foods that expand with cooking, such as beans and grains.

Natural release vs. quick release: Using natural release when converting a slow cooker recipe often achieves better results and avoids unpleasant surprises; this is particularly true with any ingredients that could interfere with a manual pressure release (for example, foamy foods such as beans).

Tip: Be sure to place food in the inner pot and not directly into the appliance. This sounds obvious, no? And yet . . . Do not, for example, absentmindedly pour water into the appliance and then realize too late that you are pouring water into the electronics of your beloved Instant Pot. I won’t tell you how I came up with that example. One trick: Place a wooden spoon or cutting board over the Instant Pot when the inner pot is not in place.

Cleaning the Machine

The Instant Pot is easy to clean, but it can be tricky at first to sort out which parts need to be cleaned and how to clean them. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

General Cleaning

• Unplug the appliance and allow it to cool down if it has been in use.

• Use a damp cloth to wipe down the Instant Pot’s base. This is the “brains” of your Instant Pot and contains electronics. Never immerse this part in water or clean it in the dishwasher.

• Use a dry brush (a toothbrush works well) to remove any caked-on food or residue from the recessed area around the lip of the base.

Cleaning the Lid, Anti-block Shield, and Silicone Sealing Ring

• These parts can all be washed in the dishwasher, though the black plastic of the lid may become slightly discolored over time. As someone who frequently tosses the lid in the dishwasher, I can tell you that any merely cosmetic consequences are a small price to pay for the convenience. I also find that the dishwasher typically does a better job of eliminating clingy odors than I do by hand-washing.

• The black plastic pressure-release valve is loose-fitting and can be removed by pulling up on it. Clean it with warm, soapy water or place it in the silverware basket of the dishwasher, checking to make sure it is clear of any food and debris.

• Remove the anti-block shield from the underside of the lid. Grip it tightly and pull to remove. There are two versions of the anti-block shield and the round version can be particularly difficult to remove with bare hands. Here’s a trick: Use a rubber jar opener or silicone mitt to grasp it firmly, pushing it slightly to one side before pulling it out. Wash the anti-block shield with warm, soapy water or place it in the silverware basket of the dishwasher.

• If necessary, the small metal float valve can be cleaned by removing the small silicone rubber ring from the underside of the lid.

• The silicone sealing ring can be hand-washed in warm, soapy water or cleaned in the dishwasher. Because it is crucial to the Instant Pot’s ability to form a tight seal, it should be inspected periodically for cracks and damage and replaced when necessary. (The manufacturer says the ring will last two to three years under normal conditions. For what it’s worth, I’m fairly certain that writing a cookbook and making breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the Instant Pot for months on end is not a normal condition, but even so, mine are still going strong.)

To remove stubborn odors from the sealing ring, use one of two methods:

• Soak the ring in white vinegar overnight and then wash with warm, soapy water or place on the top rack of the dishwasher.

• Steam-clean the sealing ring. Use the test run procedure described in Setting Up Your Pot.

Cleaning the Inner Pot and Steaming Rack

• As with other stainless steel cookware, these may be cleaned in the dishwasher.

• To clean by hand, use warm, soapy water. To remove any stubborn bits, soak for 30 minutes in warm water, drain, and then use a sponge to scour the metal, using a generous sprinkle of baking soda as a gentle abrasive if necessary.

Cleaning the Condensation Collector

• This small plastic cup can be hand-washed with soap and warm water or placed upside-down in the silverware rack of the dishwasher.

Instant Pot FAQS

If you have questions about a particular Instant Pot function, check the chapter introductions or look in the index.

Q. The lid is difficult to open after pressure has been released. I try to lift the lid and the entire appliance wants to come with it. What’s going on?

A. After pressure-cooking and using natural release, the valve will still be in the Sealing position. Sometimes the cooling process creates a bit of a vacuum between the lid and the inner pot and makes the lid difficult to remove. To break that vacuum, turn the valve to Venting, allow a moment for air to flow into the appliance, and then turn the lid counterclockwise; it should lift off the appliance more easily.

Q. My Instant Pot is making clicking and cracking noises as it cooks and cools. Is this normal?

A. Yes, this is normal. The noises could be due to the Instant Pot cycling on or off its heat for temperature control or the expansion or contraction of parts as the appliance heats or cools. It’s all totally normal.

Q. I set the valve to Sealing, but there is still steam coming out. What’s happening?

A. There are two possibilities here, but either way that steam is just your Instant Pot at work.

• The first possibility: When pressure- cooking, the Instant Pot may release steam before it comes to pressure and starts its cooking time. This steam is released through the small metal float valve. That’s because the liquid in the inner pot is boiling but the appliance has not yet come to pressure and pushed the metal float valve into the sealing position. Once the metal float valve seals the lid and that steam is trapped inside the appliance, it achieves the necessary pressure.

• The second possibility: Steam is sometimes released through the black plastic valve during cooking. The Instant Pot does that to regulate pressure, automatically keeping the pressure within a safe range.

Q. The black plastic valve on the lid of my Instant Pot is very loose. That can’t be normal, can it?

A. It’s totally normal. The black plastic valve needs to be loose to allow the Instant Pot to vent steam as necessary during cooking to regulate pressure.

Q. When I use natural release and allow the appliance to cool on its own after pressure-cooking, I don’t see any steam coming out. Where does it all go?

A. There’s a big difference between the spectacular release of steam from a quick release and the total lack of steam in a natural release. When you allow the Instant Pot to cool on its own with a natural release, the heat dissipates via the metal on the lid. Once the pressure and heat have dissipated, there simply is no steam left when you open the lid; it has all turned back to liquid.

Q. Can the recipes in this book be doubled?

A. Many can. Some cannot. To identify those recipes that will double well, keep an eye out for a icon. Some chapter-by-chapter considerations:

Yogurt Maker: A recipe such as Homemade Plain Yogurt will not double because there would be too much liquid for the machine to handle, but Do-It-Yourself Ricotta and Crème Fraîche will double. The time that you set on the Instant Pot remains the same as given in the recipe. So, for example, making a double batch of Crème Fraîche requires setting a time of 8 hours on the Instant Pot.

Slow Cooker: Recipes where ingredients are first sautéed generally require enough space on the bottom of the inner pot for the ingredients to move around. Also, only so much meat will fit in the inner pot. (That tends to be around 3 pounds of roast.) For the recipes that will double, the time that you set on the Instant Pot remains the same as given in the recipe.

Pressure Cooker: The space considerations are much the same as with slow-cooker recipes. One big caveat: Recipes with foods that expand—such as dried beans or grains—cannot fill the inner pot more than halfway. The time that you set on the Instant Pot remains the same as given in the recipe. Because of the volume of food, it will take longer for the Instant Pot to build and to later release pressure naturally.

Rice Maker: Many of these recipes will indeed double, though something like Thai-Style Sticky Rice would overrun most steaming baskets. The time that you set on the Instant Pot remains the same as given in the recipe, though it will take longer for the Instant Pot to build pressure.

Steamer: Again, the consideration is volume. Most of the recipes in this book already fill a typical steaming basket, so there’s not much room for doubling.

The How to Instant Pot Icons and What They Mean

Many of the recipes in this book are identified with icons to highlight special features, like if the recipe is vegan, doubles well, or is suitable for a weeknight dinner. You may see the following icons alone or in combination:

Vegetarian

Vegan

Dairy-Free

Recipe can be doubled

30 minutes or less

60 minutes or less

Instant Pot Quick Fix

Look for recipes labeled Quick Fix sprinkled throughout this book. These recipes let the Instant Pot shine in ways you might not expect, whether by taking a time-consuming or tricky dish and making it faster and simpler, or by teaching you to make something you never expected. You’ll find these recipes labeled in the Contents for each chapter. Here are just two examples:

• How many methods are there for hard-boiling eggs? Too many. Now you only need one and it couldn’t be simpler (see Hard-Boiled Eggs).

• Crème Fraîche has a rich taste that rivals sour cream and an elegant name to boot, but there’s nothing complicated about making it yourself with the Instant Pot.

1, 2, 3 Recipes

A big part of learning to use the Instant Pot is seeing how easily you can create an entirely new dish by swapping out some ingredients and largely sticking with the Master method in the original recipe. That’s the idea behind a recipe such as Winter Squash Soup 1, 2, 3, which turns out three different meals using the same basic method. Meanwhile, recipes such as Chickpea Salad 1, 2, 3 show you how easy it is to make a single ingredient in the Instant Pot and then turn it into three unique salads.

Look for 1, 2, 3 recipes throughout the book and use them as a starting place for your own recipes, too, by personalizing the methods with your own flavors as you master the Instant Pot.

Chapter 2

Pressure Cooker

Beef Barbacoa Tacos

Pineapple Skirt Steak

Pressure-Cooker Beef Stew 1, 2, 3

Cumin-Spiced Pork Sirloin with Avocado Salsa

Instant Pot Quick Fix: Caramelized Onions

Tender Pressure-Cooker Pork Shoulder 1, 2, 3

Pinto Beans with Chorizo

Fragrant Lamb and Chickpea Stew

No-Stir Polenta 1, 2, 3

No-Stir Risotto 1, 2, 3

Instant Pot Quick Fix: Faux-Roasted Garlic

Wonderful Wheat Berries 1, 2, 3

Quick Chili 1, 2, 3

Super Simple Beans 1, 2, 3

Beyond Basic Black Bean Soup

Smoky Potato and Kale Soup

Instant Pot Quick Fix: Hard-Boiled Eggs

Bacon, Corn, and Potato Chowder

Winter Squash Soup 1, 2, 3

All-Purpose Stock 1, 2, 3

Beet and Blue Cheese Salad

Chickpea Salad 1, 2, 3

Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes

Instant Pot Quick Fix: Pressure-Cooker “Baked” Potatoes

Creamy Butternut Squash

Instant Pot Quick Fix: Quick-Pickled Vegetables

Bacon-y Refried Beans

Steel-Cut Oats with Chocolate and Slivered Almonds

Maple-Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa

Tapioca Chai Pudding

Chocolate Lava Cakes with Dulce de Leche

Some of us can picture a pressure cooker in our parents’ or grandparents’ kitchen but haven’t felt comfortable using one ourselves. Probably whoever was using it at the time didn’t offer up a physics lesson, so it may be shrouded in a bit of mystery. Also, a lot of families seem to have stories about, shall we say, “incidents”—a surprisingly common element of which is food that ended up on the ceiling. (That’s not how it’s supposed to go, as we can gather from the now-quaint cookbooks of decades ago that did not depict this; gelatin mold salads, yes—food on the ceiling, no.)

The Instant Pot’s circuitry and safety features have eliminated that messy food-on-the-ceiling problem. And it’s not necessary to understand how a pressure cooker works in order to use one. But it is fun to know. This chapter and a little practice will unwrap the mystery and help make you a pressure-cooker power user.

How a Pressure Cooker Works

At its most basic, a pressure cooker is just a pot with a very tight lid. When the liquid inside that pot heats up, the steam is trapped, raising the temperature and pressure inside the pot. That’s because water boiled in an open pot at sea level cannot get hotter than 212°F—when the water molecules get too hot, they simply fly off into the air as steam. But in a well-sealed pot, those molecules have nowhere else to go. They bounce around the pot faster and faster, raising the temperature.

At the Instant Pot’s pressure of about 11 pounds per square inch, the temperature reaches about 240°F. Yes, your oven has higher temperature settings than this, but that would only matter if every inch of your oven were filled with liquid or steam, since the air in the oven is a much worse conductor of heat than the liquid and steam in the Instant Pot. Essentially, the heat in your oven is lazing around, occasionally hitting your food, but also escaping out the vents and the oven door. Meanwhile, by comparison, the heat in the Instant Pot is pummeling the food, bouncing off the food nonstop and transferring its energy to your meal. The result: The higher temperature cooks food more quickly, while the vapor keeps food moist.

Crucial in this system is some sort of valve to regulate the vapor buildup and prevent the uncontrolled release of pressure. (“Explosion” is such an ugly word.) The Instant Pot not only regulates the heat that builds up the pressure, but also regulates the pressure itself. That’s what keeps the pressure and heat safely trapped inside the Instant Pot until it’s ready to be released.

How a Pressure-Cooker Recipe Works

Here’s a quick overview of the steps typically involved in pressure-cooking:

1. Sauté some of the ingredients: This step is not in every recipe but is frequently used with meats to brown them and begin to develop flavor. Because the Instant Pot has a Sauté function, this all happens in the appliance with no need to dirty a separate frying pan.

2. Place the other ingredients in the inner pot: These ingredients must include liquid. The liquid is what helps develop the pressure inside the Instant Pot. Water is the most obvious contributor of liquid, but broth may also be called for. Many vegetables also contribute some liquid as they cook, but it’s usually not enough to build sufficient pressure.

3. Seal the Instant Pot: Without a tight seal, pressure will not build. This means ensuring that the sealing ring is installed in the lid (see here) and that the valve is set to Sealing. Even when the valve is set to Sealing, some steam will escape at first before the metal float valve rises and becomes flush with the lid, thereby sealing the pot. This is normal.

4. Set the cooking time: This time does not include the time it takes for the machine to build pressure or any time it takes to release pressure; it only includes the time that the food is cooked at pressure. The Total Time given before the recipes in this book includes the time it takes for the pressure to build and release.

5. Release pressure: Once the cooking time has elapsed, it’s time for the pressure to be released. This may be done naturally by allowing the heat and pressure to dissipate on their own, or quickly by releasing the valve on the lid. (See Natural Release vs. Quick Release, below.)

6. Reduce liquid or continue cooking: Soups or stews may need to be reduced slightly because no liquid has evaporated. Dried foods such as beans may require a bit of additional cooking. In both cases, you can achieve this by using the Sauté function and cooking with the lid off until the desired consistency is reached.

Natural Release vs. Quick Release

At the end of the cooking cycle, the built-up pressure must go somewhere. There are two ways to release the pressure:

Natural release: You won’t see any steam released. Using this method allows the heat and pressure to dissipate naturally and involves not fiddling with the valve and simply waiting for the pressure to release on its own, usually 10 to 30 minutes. (The time depends on the amount of food cooked.) Where this method is called for, an estimated release time is specified in the instructions and is taken into account as part of the Total Time. This means that manually releasing the pressure early in a “quick release” (see below) may result in undercooked food. Natural release is recommended particularly for foods that might clog the valve if quick release were used; this includes food with a lot of liquid or starch (such as oatmeal). You will know the pressure is released when the small metal float valve sinks back into the lid and the lid is no longer locked.

Quick release: This method releases the pressure immediately after cooking. While the food retains heat, quick release essentially stops the cooking. This is done by turning the black plastic valve on the top of the lid to release the pressure. This immediately sends steam shooting out of the top. This is no joke and you must be very careful to have every part of your body away from the valve when you release the pressure. Stand back from the pot and use something like a long-handled wooden spoon to turn the knob and release the steam. The knob will feel loose, as though it is not on tightly; this is normal.

The Differences Between Instant Pot and Other Pressure Cookers

The Instant Pot has two main differences from many other pressure cookers:

• One difference is evident at a glance: The Instant Pot is electric and, unlike many older pressure cookers, does not need to be—should not be—used on the stovetop. Using it on the stovetop means risking damage to the Instant Pot if the heat is accidentally turned on.

• The second difference is less immediately evident: The Instant Pot operates at a lower pressure (and thus lower temperature) than many other pressure cookers. The recipes in this book are all tailored specifically to the Instant Pot. If you use pressure-cooker recipes not specifically for the Instant Pot, there is an easy rule of thumb for converting them: Add 15 percent more cooking time and then check the results at the end of the cooking time. Pressure-cook for a few more minutes if necessary and then make a note on the recipe for next time.

Pressure-Cooker Tips and Potential Pitfalls

Pressure-cooking may at first contain an element of mystery for novice and experienced cooks alike. If a dish goes awry, here are some factors to consider:

Too much liquid: Pressure cookers seal in liquid during cooking, which means there is practically no evaporation. Because of this, and because some ingredients—particularly fruits and vegetables—contain a lot of water, you do not need as much liquid as in many other cooking methods.

Too little liquid: You do, however, need a minimum amount of liquid (about 1 cup) for the Instant Pot to build sufficient pressure.

Cooking with the inner pot too full: Remember that foods that expand when cooked, such as raw grains and dried beans, should not fill more than half of the inner pot. Other foods should occupy no more than two thirds of the inner pot.

Overcooking delicate foods: Cooking under pressure means that foods cook quickly. This can sometimes mean that foods overcook quickly. Quick-cooking, delicate foods are best left to other cooking methods.

Setup glitches: Before pressure-cooking, be sure the valve is set to Sealing and the lid is in place with the silicone ring installed; otherwise the machine will not build and maintain pressure.

Expecting crispness: Pressure-cooking is a moist cooking method. Although browning some ingredients first is useful in developing flavor, food will not emerge golden brown and crispy. Part of enjoying your pressure cooker is knowing what it excels at; think less along the lines of a whole chicken with glistening brown skin and more along the lines of satisfying stews with tender chunks of meat.

Recipe Timing

You may see that a recipe calls for setting the pressure-cooking time for 10 minutes, and yet somehow the recipe takes twice that long to complete. Here’s why: The pressure cooker takes time to build up the required pressure. Although the food does cook inside while the heat and pressure build, that time does not figure into the countdown the machine displays.

One quirk of pressure-cooking: Increasing the volume of food does not require increasing the cooking time. (That said, the time required to reach pressure will increase as volume increases.) Be cautious: While some recipe quantities may be increased, never fill the inner pot more than halfway with beans, grains, or legumes, or more than two thirds with other foods. While recipes can often be halved, do not use less than 1 cup of liquid. See the FAQs for more information on doubling recipes.

High-Altitude Modifications

Anyone cooking at high altitudes may know that water boils at a lower temperature at higher elevations; less energy is needed for the water molecules to fly into the air as steam because less air pressure is keeping those molecules down. The pressure cooker works at high altitudes because it replaces some of that pressure and raises the boiling temperature of water. However, some modifications may be necessary: Experiment to find out what works for you, but adding 5 percent to the cooking time for every 1,000 feet above sea level is a good starting point.

Pressure-Cooker Safety

There is no doubt that pressure-cooking can present safety issues. So can cooking on the stovetop, but you don’t often hear about adults who shrink from that because it makes them nervous. A UL-certified pressure cooker such as the Instant Pot must be able to withstand many times its working pressure without leaking. So there is nothing to be afraid of—but there are some things to keep in mind:

• Take the steam seriously: Using quick release to vent the steam from the Instant Pot releases a serious stream of scorching hot vapor. It’s quite impressive—from a safe distance. Use a long wooden spoon and not your hand to release the valve. And keep every part of your body away from the vent while the steam is released.

• Remember that the inner pot is hot: Even once the pressure is released, the inner pot and the food inside will still be very hot. Use oven mitts when handling the inner pot.

• Read the manual: While you will become more familiar with the Instant Pot as you use it, reading the manual provides important safety precautions.

• Do not use your Instant Pot as a pressure canner to create shelf-stable jarred food: While some pressure cookers may be used for this (and some models of the Instant Pot have a Sterilize function that can be used to purify empty jars or cans), pressure canning is not a safe and approved use of the Instant Pot.

• Consider the size: As noted here, but as also bears repeating, the recipes in this book were developed using a 6-quart Instant Pot. The recipes may be used in other sizes, but be careful not to overfill the inner pot—never more than half full for grains, legumes, and foods that expand during cooking, and never more than two-thirds full for other foods such as meats, soups, and stews.

Pressure-Cooking Tips and Tidbits

• Placing a wet towel on the lid speeds up cooling when using natural release, a handy trick to have at your disposal when developing your own recipes. Keep in mind that the recipes in this book that use natural release take into account the cooling time as part of the cooking process, so speeding up the natural-release process could result in undercooked food.

• Different types of beans, rice, and grains cook at different rates (see the charts). Even two batches of the same type of bean may cook more or less quickly depending on how long the beans were stored at the supermarket or at home. For this reason and because of many other variables, it is not possible to issue one universal, true cooking time for foods—you may find yourself needing to adjust cooking times to your circumstances. My simple advice on this topic: Remember that it is not possible to un-cook overdone food, but you can always cook a bit more by resealing the Instant Pot and pressure-cooking underdone food or cooking with the lid off using the Sauté function.

Beef Barbacoa Tacos

Total time: 1 hour Active time: 10 minutes Yield: Serves 6

Salty, spicy, and slightly tangy, this dish delivers flavor on multiple levels. The tender shredded beef showcases the power of the pressure cooker to turn out in just an hour a meal that would ordinarily take hours of slow cooking.

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of most fat and cut into large chunks

½ cup reduced-salt chicken broth or All-Purpose Chicken Stock

2 bay leaves

Small (6-inch) corn tortillas, for serving

Salsa or pico de gallo, for serving

Cotija cheese, for serving

1 Whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, garlic, chipotle, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2 Press Sauté and use the Sauté or Adjust button to select the highest temperature (“More”). Place the vegetable oil in the inner pot. Wait until the display reads “Hot,” about 5 minutes, then add the beef. Cook with the lid off, turning the beef every 2 minutes, until the beef is browned on most sides, about 8 minutes.

3 Add the vinegar sauce and the chicken broth (be careful—steam may whoosh up!), and then the bay leaves. Stir to combine.

4 Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Cancel, then press Manual or Pressure Cook and use the Pressure or Pressure Level button to select High Pressure. Use the – or + button to set the time to 30 minutes.

5 When the cooking cycle ends, press Cancel. Allow the appliance to cool and release pressure naturally, about 20 minutes. (The pressure is released when the small metal float valve next to the pressure-release valve sinks back into the lid and the lid is no longer locked.)

6 Remove the lid. Discard the bay leaves. Use tongs or a large spoon to remove the beef from the inner pot and place it on a cutting board. Shred the beef using two forks: Use one fork to pull off a chunk and then use two forks to shred that piece, holding down the meat with one fork and pulling at it with the other. Repeat with the remaining beef.

7 Serve the beef hot, piled into corn tortillas and topped with salsa and a sprinkling of Cotija cheese, if desired.

Beef Barbacoa and its juices will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. To reheat, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the beef in a shallow baking dish with enough of the juices to reach a depth of about ¼ inch. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until hot, about 15 minutes.

Pineapple Skirt Steak

Total time: 25 minutes Active time: 5 minutes Yield: Serves 4

Pair this quick dish with some vegetables and rice and dinner is set. The bright flavor of the sweet-tart pineapple and saltiness of the soy sauce combine to make your taste buds stand up and take notice. Getting so much flavor from so few ingredients can make this dish a go-to: Prepare it once and you’ll bookmark it for those occasions when you want something impressive but simple.

¾ cup pineapple juice or pineapple juice blend

¼ cup soy sauce

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ pounds skirt steak, sliced about ¼ inch thick against the grain (see Note)

2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced, for garnish

1 Place the pineapple juice, soy sauce, and pepper in the inner pot and stir to combine. Add the steak and stir to coat it with the sauce. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Manual or Pressure Cook and use the Pressure or Pressure Level button to select High Pressure. Use the – or + button to set the time to 12 minutes.

2 When the cooking cycle ends, carefully use a wooden spoon to release the pressure by turning the pressure-release valve to Venting. (The pressure is released when the small metal float valve next to the pressure-release valve sinks back into the lid and the lid is no longer locked.)

3 Press Cancel and remove the lid. Remove the steak from the inner pot.

4 Serve warm, drizzled with a spoonful of the sauce and garnished with scallions.

Pineapple Skirt Steak and cooking liquid will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. To reheat, place the steak in a pot, add cooking liquid to cover the bottom, and warm on the stovetop over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Note: To cut against the grain, slice perpendicular to the muscle fibers running through the steak.

Pressure-Cooker Beef Stew

The Instant Pot and beef stew make a lovely couple. Tough beef that typically requires hours of cooking quickly becomes fork-tender in the pressure cooker. A butternut squash version (see below) gets a touch of sweetness and a streak of brilliant orange from the squash. A meat-and-potatoes version goes back to the basics for a satisfying swipe at hunger (see here). An incarnation with Thai spices and coconut milk (see here) takes the stew in an unexpected direction. In all cases, serve with a salad and rice or a crusty baguette for sopping up the liquid.

Master Method

1 Beef and Butternut Squash SteW

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Active time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt, plus extra as needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed

2 pounds boneless beef for stewing, such as chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small white or yellow onion, chopped

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary)

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)

½ cup reduced-salt chicken broth or All-Purpose Chicken Stock

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes with their juices

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves

1 Place the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the beef and toss with the flour mixture until the beef is evenly coated. Set aside.

2 Press Sauté and use the Sauté or Adjust button to select the middle temperature (“Normal”). Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the inner pot, wait about 2 minutes for it to warm, then add the onion, rosemary, and thyme. Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally until the onion softens slightly, about 5 minutes. Use a large spoon to remove the onion to a bowl; set it aside.

3 Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the inner pot, wait about 1 minute for it to warm, and then add half of the beef. Cook with the lid off, turning the beef occasionally, until it is browned on most sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining beef.

4 Place the chicken broth in the inner pot and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the inner pot until most of the brown bits are released, about 1 minute. Add the reserved onion, browned beef, squash, tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.

5 Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Cancel, then press Manual or Pressure Cook and use the Pressure or Pressure Level button to select High Pressure. Use the – or + button to set the time to 20 minutes.

6 When the cooking cycle ends, press Cancel. Allow the appliance to cool and release pressure naturally, about 30 minutes. (The pressure is released when the small metal float valve next to the pressure-release valve sinks back into the lid and the lid is no longer locked.)

7 Remove the lid and taste the stew for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. To reheat, place it in a pot and warm on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot, about 5 minutes.

2 Thai-Spiced Beef Stew

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Active time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt, plus extra as needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed

2 pounds boneless beef for stewing, such as chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons neutral-flavored vegetable oil, such as canola or peanut

1 small white or yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

½ cup reduced-salt chicken broth or All-Purpose Chicken Stock

1 can (13½ ounces) coconut milk

¼ cup Thai red curry paste

Juice of 1 small lime

1 tablespoon fish sauce

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

1 Place the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the beef and toss with the flour mixture until the beef is evenly coated. Set aside.

2 Press Sauté and select the middle temperature. Place 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in the inner pot, wait about 2 minutes for it to warm, then add the onion and ginger. Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens slightly. Remove the onion to a bowl; set it aside.

3 Place the remaining oil in the inner pot, wait about 1 minute for it to warm, and then add half of the beef. Cook with the lid off, turning the beef occasionally, until it is browned on most sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining beef.

4 Place the chicken broth, coconut milk, curry paste, lime juice, and fish sauce in the inner pot and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the inner pot until most of the brown bits are released, about 1 minute. Add the reserved onion, browned beef, and carrots and stir to combine.

5 Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Cancel, then select High Pressure and set the time to 20 minutes.

6 When the cooking cycle ends, press Cancel. Release pressure naturally, about 30 minutes.

7 Remove the lid and taste the stew for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot, garnished with cilantro.

Thai-Spiced Beef Stew will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

3 Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Active time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt, plus extra as needed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed

2 pounds boneless beef for stewing, such as chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small white or yellow onion, chopped

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary)

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 cups reduced-salt beef broth or All-Purpose Beef Stock

3 unpeeled medium red potatoes (about 1 pound total), cut into 1-inch cubes

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, for garnish

1 Place the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the beef and toss with the flour mixture until the beef is evenly coated. Set aside.

2 Press Sauté and select the middle temperature. Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in the inner pot, wait about 2 minutes for the oil to heat, then add the onion, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Cook with the lid off, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens slightly. Remove the onion to a bowl; set it aside.

3 Place the remaining oil in the inner pot, wait about 1 minute for it to warm, and then add half of the beef. Cook with the lid off, turning the beef occasionally, until it is browned on most sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining beef.

4 Place the beef broth in the inner pot and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the inner pot until most of the brown bits are released, about 1 minute. Add the reserved onion, browned beef, potatoes, and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.

5 Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Cancel, then select High Pressure and set the time to 20 minutes.

6 When the cooking cycle ends, press Cancel. Release pressure naturally, about 30 minutes.

7 Remove the lid and taste the stew for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.

Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

More Flavoring and Serving Ideas for Beef Stew

• Omit other herbs and use ground cumin, ground coriander, and finely chopped chipotle in adobo and serve with corn tortillas.

• Add chopped up bacon with the onion in step 2.

• Reduce the amount of meat and add cooked beans to the finished dish.

• Add frozen peas or frozen mixed vegetables to any variation of stew just after opening the lid. Use the Sauté function and cook with the lid open to heat the vegetables until warm—just a few minutes.

• Substitute sweet potato or yam in Beef and Butternut Squash Stew. Or substitute either in place of the potatoes in Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew.

• Add chunky, natural peanut butter to Thai-Spiced Beef Stew or Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew and garnish with peanuts.

• Add caraway seeds, sweet paprika, and chopped bell peppers to Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew for a Hungarian goulash approximation.

• Swap out half the beef broth in Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew for a beer—a stout or dark lager is ideal. Cook for a few minutes with the lid off to allow the alcohol to evaporate.

• Top Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew with cheese when serving. Try shredded sharp Cheddar, blue cheese, or Gruyère.

 

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Here’s how to make incredible hands-off meals like Ziti and Italian Sausage, Maple-Mustard Pork Shoulder, and Korean-Style Short Ribs, plus plenty of sides, breakfasts, and desserts. In addition to a set of recipes for each function and master recipes with three variations each, there are surprising shortcuts—basics like quick pickles, perfect hard-boiled eggs, and a 30-minute “baked” potato. It’s the essential purchase for every instant pot owner.

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