Instant Pot Ham Hock and Lentil Soup

I’ve been trying some new recipes with lentils in my Instant Pot Duo 60, (see Instant Pot Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carraba’s Copycat) for another great lentil soup option!) and I couldn’t be happier. They are delicious, inexpensive, and my 1 year-old (who prefers most of his meals in the form of grilled cheese) loves these lentil and veggie soups. The ham bone adds savory smoked flavors; it’s a great way to use up holiday leftovers, or you can pick one up inexpensively from the grocery store.

 

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
3 celery sprigs, diced
1 onion, diced
Ham hock
190 grams (1 cup) lentils
32 oz. chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
⅛ tsp. garlic powder

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add olive oil, onion, carrots and celery. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, 4-6 minutes. Add ham hock, chicken broth, lentils, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Give it a quick stir and then close the lid. Press “manual” and set timer to 18 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Stir in thawed corn until heated and serve. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Root Vegetable Mash

The fall weather settled in this weekend in Austin, and has me thinking All-Things-Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving dinner is the best meal of the year, hands down! With the southern tradition of frying our turkey, I am trying out some lighter side dishes, and I love that my Instant Pot Duo 60 allows me to free up some precious oven space. If you don’t already have one, you can grab a Vegetable Steamer Basket on Amazon. Root vegetables, like potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga need to be steamed outside of the cooking liquids so they don’t get dense and gummy. I also use this basket on the stove top for veggies, dumplings and pot stickers.

I’ve been making a potato-parsnip mash for years, but decided to invite a rutabaga to the party because it’s just so darn healthy. They are a member of the turnip family, so they have a bit of the bitterness a turnip has, but they are milder and balanced nicely by the sweetness of the parsnips. Did you know that rutabaga has less than HALF the calories and carbs of potatoes? Here is how they stack up –

Rutabaga – per 100 grams: 38 calories, 9 grams carbs, 2.3 grams fiber
Parsnips – per 100 grams: 75 calories, 18 grams carbs, 4.9 grams fiber
Potato – per 100 grams: 79 calories, 18 grams carbs, 1.3 grams fiber

As you can see, using a root vegetable medley (over plan potatoes) substantially reduces calories and carbs while adding a healthy dose of fiber.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
4 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
¼ cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Chives or green onions (optional garnish)

Add 1 ½ cups water and Vegetable Steamer Basket to Instant Pot. Add peeled and cut rutabaga, potato and parsnips. Close lid, press “manual” and set timer to 8 minutes. QPR after timer is done, transfer vegetables to a large bowl and add milk, butter, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mash using an electric hand mixer. Garnish with chives, if desired. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Sausage and Lentil Soup (Carraba’s Copycat)

If I could pick the number one reason I love my Instant Pot Duo 60, it’s given me the confidence to try dishes I’ve never made before. I was always intimidated by lentils, but not anymore. Lentils and beans (these Charro beans are delicious!) are nearly foolproof in the Instant Pot, hearty, and very inexpensive.

I recently found myself in an airport with some time before my next flight, and headed into a Carraba’s Italian Grill for a quick bite to eat. I ordered their Sausage and Lentil Soup and immediately thought “I can make this in the Instant Pot, no problem.” Here is my copycat version of Carraba’s Sausage and Lentil Soup, and I’ll bet it cost me less to make the entire batch than I paid for one bowl at the restaurant.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):
2 slices thick cut bacon, diced
12 oz. Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 cups (48 oz.) chicken broth
1 ½ cups dried lentils (270 grams)
2 tsp. Italian seasoning blend (thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
Optional garnish: fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add diced bacon and sausage. Sauté until sausage is browned, 5-7 minutes. Add onion and garlic to Instant Pot, sauté for 2 minutes more. Add carrots, celery, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Give it a quick stir and then close the lid. Press “manual” and set timer to 18 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Soup can be served immediately, or let stand for a bit to continue thickening. Garnish with chopped basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Ham Bone Charro Beans

The Tex-Mex places in Austin have some of the best charro beans around. Served as a side dish, or even just with chips for snacking,Mexican style charro beans have tons of savory, warm flavors. I’ve heard that making beans from scratch in the Instant Pot Duo 60 was an absolute breeze, and wondered if I could really pull off dry beans from scratch in one hour with no soaking or long cook times. I like to use a ham bone in bean recipes; the beans get completely infused with salty-porky-goodness. You can save the ham bones from big holiday meal, or some grocery store sell them separately (and fairly inexpensive). These are hands down the best beans I’ve ever had. Another Instant Pot winner!

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced,
2 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed, diced
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup water
Ham bone (see note)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Note: I like to use a leftover ham bone in this recipe; the bone adds flavor to the broth and the ham bits are a nice addition. If you don’t have one, skip it and add 4 slices of diced thick cut bacon. Sauté it with the onions at the beginning an omit the canola oil. The bacon will render enough oil to sauté the veggies.

Press sauté on Instant Pot. When display reads “Hot” add oil, diced onion, minced garlic and diced jalapeno. Stir together until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes. Add beans, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, water, ham bone, salt and cumin. Press “manual” and set timer to 60 minutes. When the timer is done, let pressure release naturally before opening the lid. Remove ham bone, stir in chopped cilantro and serve. Enjoy!

Best Instant Pot Accessories of 2017!

If you’ve recently purchased an Instant Pot, you might be asking yourself the best way to get started. Join an Instant Pot Recipe Facebook group, follow a few blogs, and get cooking! The accessories that come with the Instant Pot are perfect to get started. no fancy tools needed to make the best Carnitas or Risotto you’ve ever had, but if you are looking for a deeper dive, here are some of the Best Instant Pot Accessories of 2017!

Sous Vide Immersion Circulator – I love Sous Vide style of cooking, and this model is designed specifically to clamp securely on both the 6 and 8 quart Instant Pot models. An immersion circulator creates a cooking water-bath set to a precise temperature, usually the temperature that is desired for the internal temperature of what is being cooked. For example, when cooking steak, traditionally methods (grill, broil) create somewhat of a bulls eye effect of doneness. As the outside gets exposed to very high heat, it must be removed at the exact point the inside reaches the desired temperature. With Sous Vide cooking, food is cooked evenly edge to edge with no risk of overcooking, and is juicy and flavorful.

 

 

Immersion Blender – an immersion blender is a great tool to have with an Instant Pot.  It makes blending a creamy soup, like Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup, whipping up a batch of apple sauce, baby food, or making blended sauces a snap, and no need to transfer hot liquids to a blender!  .

 

 

Vegetable Steamer Basket – when making vegetables in the Instant Pot, a steamer basket is a must. Keeping the veggies out of the steaming liquids maintain their flavor and keep them from getting mushy. If you haven’t tried carrots or corn on the cob in the pressure cooker yet, you don’t know what you are missing. Sweet and delicious!

 

Hiware 7 Inch Springform Pan – If you are making cheesecake, lasagna or enchilada pie in the Instant Pot, a springform pan is a must-have. This 7” pan fits the 6 qt. Instant Pot perfectly and is easy to clean.

 

 

 

Stackable Steamer Pots – stackable pans allow for different foods to be steamed simultaneously in the Instant Pot. Want to steam both fish and veggies? No problem. Making both rice and vegetables for a side dish? Easy!  These are especially handy when cooking a variety of foods for a small family or group.

 

 

 

Egg Rack – allows for cooking up to 7 eggs at the same time in the Instant Pot, evenly and within a few minutes. Each egg sits securely in its own place to eliminate rolling around and cracking.

 

 

 

Wide Rim Mesh Basket – another great option for steaming in the Instant Pot, this Mesh Basket holds the maximum amount of veggies or eggs, but requires bending or removing the handles on the pot to fit just right. It’s an easy fix, and totally worth it on this inexpensive accessory.

 

 

Instant Pot Silicone Cover – This lid fits tightly over the inner pot, is air tight and leak proof, making it a perfect accessory for storing leftover in the refrigerator or taking the inner pot on the go.

 

 

 

Instant Pot Mini Mitts – made of silicone, these mini mitts are perfect for quickly removing the hot inner pot from the Instant Pot. Since they are silicone, they are a breeze to clean.

 

 

 

Instant Pot Sealing Ring– A sealing ring comes with the Instant Pot out of the box, but they don’t last forever.   Instant Pot recommends that you change the sealing ring every 12-18 months.  Plus, the last thing you want is for one to start leaking without another one on hand. They also tend to retain some of the scent from cooking, so many people like to keep one on hand for savory dishes and one on hand for sweet dishes.

 

Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid – Just like the name suggests, this glass lid allows you to actually see what’s in the Instant Pot when it’s covered. It’s a great tool for slow cooking, keeping warm or storing leftovers in the fridge.

 

 

Instant Pot Inner Pot – the Instant Pot comes with an inner pot, but having a second on hand allows you to quickly transfer dishes when making multiple dishes back to back. An extra inner pot also comes in handy for storing leftovers in the fridge.

Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Ever since I got an Instant Pot Duo 60, I’ve been converting some of my favorite recipes to Instant Pot recipes to save time.  This Instant Pot Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup is one of my favorite soups – and the best part – it’s actually healthy!  So many tomato soup recipes have a TON of cream in them, but this one is made thick and creamy with the help of a little Arborio rice.  The acid in the tomatoes is balanced out nicely by a pinch of sugar and roasted red peppers. Since it’s converted to an Instant Pot recipe, it all comes together in minutes, but tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove all day.  And since the soup is so healthy, go ahead and pair it with a nice grilled cheese…nothing beats the comfort food combination of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Ingredients (make 6 large servings):
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small or ½ large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 sprig celery, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 tbsp. uncooked Arborio rice
6 oz. can tomato paste
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, with juices
4 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. butter
Optional garnish – basil and parmesan cheese

Press sauté on Instant Pot.  When display reads “Hot” add oil, diced onion and minced garlic.  Stir together until fragrant, 2 minutes.  Add diced carrots, celery, roasted red pepper, Arborio rice and tomato paste.  Stir another 2 minutes until tomato paste is fully incorporated.  Add tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, sugar and crushed red pepper.  Press “manual” and set timer to 8 minutes.  When the timer is done, turn vent to release pressure quickly.  Blend well with an immersion blender or traditional blender.  Once blended, stir in butter and garnish with chopped basil and parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

 

Wine pairings:  tomatoes have a ton of acid, which pair nicely with Italian wines that have some acid as well.
Villa Pillo Borgoforte 2014
Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

Instant Pot Risotto

After making risotto in my Instant Pot Duo 60, I will never make risotto any other way. I’ve made risotto several times on the stove top; it’s quite the labor of love, between the constant stirring and making sure the heat levels are juuuuussstttt right. When I heard of people making risotto in the Instant Pot, I wanted to convert my stove top recipe and it was perfect. The creamy texture was what you would expect from a perfectly made risotto and aside from the initial sauté of the mushrooms, shallots and rice, all the ingredients go in the pot and POOF! Comes out perfect.

Ingredients (serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side dish):
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
¾ cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 ½ oz. grated parmesan cheese (½ cup approx.)
½ cup frozen peas, defrosted

Press “Sauté.” When the display reads “Hot,” add olive oil and butter. Sauté shallots and mushrooms for 2-3 minutes, until starting to soften, then add rice and stir to incorporate. Add wine and stir until mostly absorbed, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Hit “manual” and set timer to 7 minutes. Quick release the pressure when the timer is done and then stir in parmesan cheese and peas. Let stand 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Wine Pairings: the earthiness of the mushrooms in this dish make it a perfect pairing for Pinot Noir.  Try these recommendations:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Instant Pot Carnitas

This dish made me a believer in the Instant Pot. Sure, I had heard all of the rave reviews, but I was still skeptical. Carnitas was the second dish I tried in my Instant Pot DUO 60, and I was amazed. The pork was fall-apart tender, juicy and flavorful, and they were equally delicious reheated on the second day. Not only are these the best carnitas I’ve ever had, but the entire prep time was 20 minutes. Once the Instant Pot is set on Manual, you can leave it alone for the entire cooking and pressure release.

 

Ingredients: (Serves 6)
3-4 lb. pork shoulder
Carnitas Spice Mixture (see recipe below)
2 tbsp. canola oil
⅓ cup orange juice
⅓ cup water
1 white onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed

Carnitas Spice Mixture
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. chipotle powder

Cut pork shoulder into six equally sized chunks and evenly coat with spice mixture. Press sauté on Instant Pot. Once display reads “hot” add oil and brown pork on all sides, working in batches. Add pork, orange juice, water, onion and garlic to Instant Pot, close the lid and hit manual. Set timer to 45 mins. Release pressure naturally once timer stops. Shred pork in a large bowl and spoon liquids over shredded pork. Service with tortillas, pickled onions, chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairings:
Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2010
Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013