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Here's how to cook food staples in the Insta Pot

The two great struggles of cooking on a tight schedule are time and affordability. 

Instant rice cooks quicker, but it costs about the same as a five pound bag of dry rice. Canned beans are soft right out the package, but give the buyer a paltry sum and less flavor as opposed to dry beans. A whole chicken can provide a tremendous feast, but requires hours of working as opposed to slapping a breast on a hot skillet.

Luckily, the increased ownership of electronic pressure cookers provides a good solution to these problems. The Instant Pot fad has been going on for years and COVID-19 resulted in a lot of home cooks experimenting with the device for the first time.

Now that school is back in session and the cold winter months have made warm, hearty meals a necessity again, it’s the perfect time to utilize the Instant Pot to make some quick delicacies. Here are some basic tips to get the most out of your Instant Pot:

The three staples

The first thing that should be done with an Instant Pot upon purchase is to start using it to cook all those dry goods that take hours on a stove or in an oven. Rice, beans and potatoes should regularly grace the pot as they are nutritious and filling.

Instant Pot Rice: 

Logic dictates to buy a basic rice cooker for this staple food. While true, an instant pot can create a superior version of the dish that requires less water and less time steaming. An instant Pot can make brown rice -- normally an hour-long chore -- in less than 30 minutes

Mentioning the reduced amount of water, pressure cookers don’t let steam escape as would normally happen in a stove top pan, so the amount of water necessary for cooking grains is reduced. Keep this in mind in all your recipes when adding, say, salt, as the intensity of the flavor won’t increase overtime with the reduction of liquid

White Rice

Ingredients:

  • Equal parts rice and water
  • 1 teaspoon salt per cup of rice

Directions:

  1. As always, the first step of preparing rice is washing it through a sieve until the water comes clear. This is to get off all the extra starch and prevent the rice form clumping. 
  2. In your Instant Pot, mix the rice, water and salt together.
  3. Set instant pot to cook at low pressure for 15 minutes
  4. Once finished, let the instant pot do a natural release (letting the pressure release without opening the release valve)

Instant Pot Potatoes:

Baking potatoes can take over an hour in the oven, especially if they’re particularly large spuds. An instant pot can steam them much quicker producing perfect baked potatoes for dinner and a good start for mashed potatoes.

Steamed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes of choice, any amount as long as it can fit in the pan over the trivet (Yukon Golds are preferable)
  • 1 cup of water

Directions

  1. Take a knife and puncture the skin of each potato (prevents potato from exploding during cooking)
  2. In the pot, add 1 cup of cold water
  3. Place trivet over water
  4. Stack potatoes on top of the trivet (the metal stand that comes with the Instant Pot)
  5. Close pot and set pressure to high cooking for 35 minutes (quick release)

Instant Pot Beans:

Cooking with dried beans is a labor of love. They take hours of prep work primarily due to the amount of time it takes to soak them. With an Instant Pot however, the time can be greatly reduced opening up regular usage of this fickle ingredient.

Instant Pot Beans (No Soak)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups water for every cup of beans
  • 1 teaspoon of salt for every cup of beans

Directions:

  1. In an Instant Pot mix together beans, water and salt.
  2. Seal instant pot and cook on high pressure for 1 hour (natural release)

Note: Beans are not consistent, if a bean such as Great Northern Beans is used for the above recipe they should come out creamy. However, harder beans, such as Pinto Beans, may take longer. Older beans will always take longer to cook than fresh ones.

Use your discretion. If you are uncertain, soak the beans in almost boiling water for about an hour to soften them up before cooking

Some basic recipes to get you started:

Marinara Sauce

The best quality of tomato sauces require hours of cooking. The main thing you’re looking for in a tomato sauce is a robust, savory flavor and a reduced acidity; factors that only come from a long, slow reduction. This sauce produces the same effects in a fraction of the time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ a teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Set Insta Pot to sauté function on a low heat
  2. Add in onions and cook until translucent
  3. Add in garlic and cook for 2 minutes
  4. Add in tomatoes and seasonings then stir thoroughly
  5. Close lid and set to high pressure for one hour (natural release)

Chipotle Beans

Dried beans are much more flavorful than the canned variety. They impart the broth of the recipe with a deep umami flavor. This recipe is eye-opening to this fact. 

Ingredients: 

3 Cups of pinto beans

  • 4 ½ cups of water
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers sliced
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Turn Instant Pot sauté function on to low
  • Add in onions and jalapenos and cook until onions are translucent
  • Add in garlic and cook for 1 minute
  • Add in remaining ingredients
  • Close the lid and cook for 1 hour on high pressure (natural release). 

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