Enjoy quick spring meals with the Instant Pot

This multifunction appliance can be used to reduce the time needed for cooking while enhancing flavors

The Instant Pot has taken the world by storm in recent years.

For anyone who doesn’t know, the Instant Pot is a multifunction appliance that  does the job of a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan and warming pot.

Its primary function is as a pressure cooker, which allows users to quickly cook meals. It also retains the flavors and nutrients of the food while also creating moist and delicious meals — and saving energy in the process.

There is a learning curve to use the Instant Pot, but once you’ve learned how to use it, it’s a great resource.

Remember that the Instant Pot cooks all sorts of meat beautifully, even when it’s frozen — although it will take extra time. It’s also great for cooking meat in bulk and freezing for later.

When cooking meat, remember that it’s not so much the weight of the piece as it is the thickness. Aim for the meat to be about two inches thick.

While many recipes tell you how much time it takes for the food to cook when at pressure, they often forget to tell you that it takes time for the Instant Pot to get to pressure and, after the meal is cooked, to release the pressure. Figure that in when using the appliance.

It’s a good idea to spray the inside of the pot with cooking spray before you cook with it.

And remember that the pot isn’t going to explode, but it will get hot. And any time you’re cooking with steam, you need to take care not to get burned with it.

When using the appliance, make sure the vent knob is turned to seal.

Following are a few recipes for an Instant Pot from foodnservice.com.



Banana French Toast

6 slices French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, chilled and sliced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
Maple syrup, optional

    Grease a 1-1/2 quart round baking dish or cake pan sized for the eight-quart Instant Pot. If using a smaller pot, use a baking dish that will fit inside of the pot.
    Add a layer of bread to the bowl. Cover with one sliced banana, then sprinkle one tablespoon of brown sugar over the top.
    In a microwave, heat cream cheese for 30 to 45 seconds, until it’s spreadable. Cover bananas and bread with cream cheese. Add the rest of the bread, then layer another sliced banana on top. Sprinkle one tablespoon brown sugar and half the pecans over the top.
Place sliced butter pieces over the bread as the top layer.
    In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk, then whisk in the milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over the bread, making sure to coat well.
    Pour 3/4 cup water into the pressure cooker pot and place a trivet or pot lifter in the bottom. If you don’t have a trivet to lift the pan out of the hot pressure cooker, make a sling out of a large foil strip. Center the pan on the trivet or foil strip and lower it into the pressure cooker.
    Lock the lid in place, select high pressure and set the timer for 25 minutes. If using an Instant Pot, select the porridge button and add five minutes to the cook time.
    When timer goes off, turn off the pressure cooker and turn the steam release valve to “venting” to release the pressure. Keep French toast pan in cooker for five minutes before removing lid.
    Remove lid and remove dish from pressure cooking pot. Let set for another five minutes, then top with sliced bananas, nuts and maple syrup and serve.
    For a crispy topping, put the dish under the broiler for four to five minutes to brown top.


French Dip Sandwich Recipe

2-1/2 pound chuck roast
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 onion, sliced
1/2 cup red wine
1 14-ounce can low-sodium beef broth
1 dried bay leaf
6 soft rolls
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch kosher salt
6 slices provolone cheese

    Let chuck roast sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
    Add vegetable oil to the Instant Pot and hit the sauté button.
    Season chuck roast with 2 teaspoon kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder on all sides. Using long heat-proof kitchen tongs, sear roast on all sides in Instant Pot.
    Remove seared roast from Instant Pot and set aside.
    Add onions to pot and sauté just until they start to soften. Add red wine and let simmer until reduced by half, using a wooden spoon to scrape up seared bits from the bottom of the pot. Once wine has reduced, add low-sodium beef broth and bay leaf.
    Return roast to Instant Pot, close lid and make pressure release valve is set to sealing. Hit Meat/Stew button and increase time to 100 minutes.
    Let Instant Pot natural release for 25 minutes, then turn valve to “venting” to release any excess pressure. Remove lid, transfer roast to a serving plate and shred. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
    Set oven to broil and place sandwich rolls on a baking sheet. Combine melted butter, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and pinch kosher salt in a small bowl. Brush over rolls and toast two to three minutes, until gold brown.
    Pile meat onto rolls and top with cheese. Return to broiler and heat until cheese starts to melt.
    Top sandwiches with freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley and serve with warm au jus for dipping.


Stuffed Peaches

5 medium peaches or 6 small peaches
1⁄4 cup cassava flour
1⁄4 cup maple sugar, mascobado or sucanat
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch Celtic sea salt
For the Instant Pot:
1 cup water
1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract

    Slice 1⁄4 inch off the tops of peaches. Using a sharp paring knife, cut around and remove the pits. Leave at least 1⁄2-inch of the flesh so the peaches stay intact. Set aside.
    In a mixing bowl or shallow dish, combine cassava flour, maple sugar, butter, cinnamon, almond extract and sea salt. With clean hands, mix until crumbly.
    Fill and top hollowed peaches with the crumble mixture.
    Place steamer insert or basket into Instant Pot. Add water and 1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract to the pot. Carefully place stuffed peaches into the Instant Pot on top of the steamer insert. Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot, making sure the steam release valve is sealed. Turn pot on, press manual and set to three minutes.
    When the Instant Pot is done and beeps, press “Keep Warm/Cancel,” unplug unit and use an oven mitt to “quick release” and open the steam release valve. When the steam venting stops and the silver dial drops, carefully open the lid.
    Using an oven mitt and tongs, lift and remove the steamer insert and place on a dish. Allow stuffed peaches to rest and cool about 10 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Better Than Sex Chocolate Lava Cake

8 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoons vanilla
6 tablespoons flour
1 cup powdered sugar
For topping:
Ice cream
Caramel sauce
Chocolate Magic Shell ice cream topping

    Place chocolate chips and butter in a large bowl and microwave two minutes. Mix until well combined. Mix in powdered sugar until smooth. Add 3 eggs and egg yolk until well combined. Add vanilla and flour and stir until well combined.
    Spray four six-ounce Pyrex bowls with cooking spray. Fill each bowl to the top with batter, then place trivet in the Instant Pot with one cup of water. Place bowls on the trivet.
    Set pot on manual high pressure for nine minutes. Do a quick release.
    Remove bowls and place upside down on a plate. Top with ice cream, caramel, and magic shell.


Lo Mein

1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup snow peas
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
8 ounces lo mein or rice noodles

    Saute sesame oil, garlic and red onion until tender. Add rice wine vinegar, vegetable stock, lemon juice, soy sauce and brown sugar. Mix until blended well. Add uncooked lo mein or rice noodles, then add carrots, mushrooms and snow peas.
    Lock Instant Pot lid and set vent to sealing. Press manual button and set to high for 5 minutes
    Quick pressure release carefully.


Crack Chicken

6 to 8 slices cooked bacon
2 pounds boneless chicken breast
1 packet ranch seasoning
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup water
1 cup cheddar cheese

    Place chicken and cream cheese in the Instant Pot. Sprinkle the packet of ranch seasoning over the top. Add 1/2 cup water.
    Place Instant Pot on manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Do a quick release.
    Remove chicken and shred.
    Keep Instant Pot on low, then add chicken and cheese and stir. Stir in bacon and serve.
    To make in a slow cooker: Place chicken, cream cheese and ranch seasoning in crock pot and cook on low for six hours. Remove chicken and shred. Place back in the pot, stir in bacon and serve.


Kung Pao Chicken

3 zucchini, quartered
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast strips cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 red bell peppers, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup raw peanuts
3 tablespoons raw honey
1/3 cup light soy sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 whole chili peppers; optional

    Place chicken, salt and pepper in the Instant Pot, lock in place and set to high pressure for 10 minutes. Let natural pressure release.
    Turn Instant Pot to saute mode and add red peppers and zucchini. Cook three to five minutes, until zucchini and red peppers are tender but still a bit crisp. Add raw peanuts and stir well.
    Mix cornstarch, soy sauce, raw honey, hoisin sauce, garlic and ginger in a large liquid measuring cup. Whisk well. Add crushed red pepper. Whisk well. Fold sauce over chicken in the Instant Pot and cook one to two minutes. Set heat to keep warm.
    Add whole chili peppers if needed.
    Serve with jasmine rice.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

2/3 cup dried white great northern or navy beans
2/3 cup dried red kidney beans
1 pound ground Italian sausage, mild or spicy
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
3 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped or sliced
1 cup ditalini pasta, boiled until tender
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried Italian blend seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Fresh basil, cracked black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese for topping

    Cover beans with cold water and soak  six to eight hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
    Combine beans in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat slightly and simmer one hour, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and cooked through.
    Preheat Instant Pot using the saute setting. Add Italian sausage and onions and saute for three to five minutes, until sausage is browned. Add garlic and cook one to two minutes longer, until fragrant.
    Switch Instant Pot to soup setting. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, celery, carrots, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Lock the lid in place and set the pressure release to “sealing.” Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow pot to sit for three to four minutes, then turn the release valve for a “quick release.”
    Stir in ditalini pasta, garnish with cracked black pepper, fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Crispy Carnitas

1 4 to 5-pound lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
For mojo sauce:
1 cup beer or chicken stock
1 head of garlic, cloves separated, peeled and minced
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
For fresh pineapple salsa:
2 cups finely diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely-diced

    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk all sauce ingredients together until combined. Set aside.
    Season pork chunks on all sides with salt and pepper. Click the “saute” setting on the Instant Pot. Add oil and half the pork and sear, turning every 45 to 60 seconds, until pork is browned on all sides.  Transfer to a clean plate and repeat with the other half of the pork. Press “cancel” to turn off the heat.
    Combine sauce and pork and toss briefly to combine. Close lid securely and set vent to “sealing.” Press “meat”, then press “pressure” until the light on “high pressure” lights up. Set time to 30 minutes and cook.  Let the pressure release naturally, about 15 minutes. Turn the vent to “venting” to release any extra pressure, then remove the lid.
    Turn oven broiler to high.
    Shred pork with two forks, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a large baking sheet.  Spoon about one-third of the juices evenly on top and broil four to five minutes,  until the edges of the pork begin crisping up. Remove from the oven, then ladle one-third of the juices from the Instant Pot evenly over the pork and toss.  Broil an additional five minutes, then ladle the remaining juices over the pork and toss to combine.
    Toss salsa ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, also adding extra lime juice if desired.
    Sprinkle meat with chopped fresh cilantro, then serve immediately in tortillas with toppings and salsa.


Maple Smoked Brisket

1-1/2 pounds beef brisket
2 tablespoons maple sugar, date sugar or coconut sugar
2 teaspoons smoked sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups bone broth or stock
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
3 fresh thyme sprigs

    Remove brisket from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
    Combine maple sugar, smoked sea salt, pepper, mustard powder, onion powder and smoked paprika. Coat meat generously on all sides.  Set Instant Pot to “sauté” and allow it to heat up for two to three minutes.  Grease the bottom with cooking oil and add brisket. Brown on all sides until deep golden but not burnt. Turn the brisket, fatty side up, and add broth, liquid smoke and thyme. Scrape browned bits off the bottom and cover with the lid. Switch the setting to “manual”  but leave at high pressure and increase cook time to 50 minutes.
    When finished, allow Instant Pot to release steam on its own.
    Remove brisket from the pot and cover with foil to rest. Switch Instant Pot to “saute” to reduce and thicken the sauce with the lid off for about 10 minutes. Slice brisket on the bias and serve drizzled with the reduced sauce.




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