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Good morning everyone.
I’m going to be throwing a curve ball at the standard Sunday Gravy format for the next few weeks but I think it will be worthwhile regardless.
I’m curious to find out how many of you are familiar with that odd R2D2 looking motherfucker in the banner pic.
Are you familiar with the Instant Pot?
It’s difficult to say how widespread the Instant Pot phenomenon is in our current zeitgeist but it’s definitely a “thing” in cooking circles. The challenge for me is I’m a food guy so of course I read and hear about these things as I trip the food world fantastic but for those who don’t follow food trends and other food shit like I do, has this thing crept out into the midst of pop culture?
The Instant Pot has made the goddamn rounds lately. Check this shit out.
Here is the New York Times.
You get the idea.
According to that Digital Trends link the Instant Pot is a:
Since I mentioned the topic of “food trends” I just want you to know, I’ll be FUCKED if I’m gonna give you an avocado toast recipe.
I’ve been getting a new kitchen toy at least once a year that I can then introduce to the Sunday Gravy world and this year I decided to try this bastard.
I got this through Amazon for about 150 bucks.
How I got it is mildly interesting.
For decades now I’ve been a member of the Harris Poll community. I take online polls and surveys and accumulate points that I redeem for Amazon credit. Some of the other cool things I’ve done through Harris Interactive include multiple visits to the LA Auto Show to grade and evaluate concept cars. I helped design the interior cabin of the 2012 Chevy Malibu. I just recently helped with future designs of the interior, seating and door entry concepts for the next generation of autonomous, or self driving vehicles. I’ve helped with the design of braking systems on hybrid vehicles and I was one of the first people to see the mock-up design prior to the release of the PT Cruiser. I am encouraged to be as candid as possible when doing these evaluations and as I looked at the Cruiser mock-up I said “What is that ugly motherfucker?” right out loud to the host panel.
I’m subtle like that.
Anyway I had accumulated a bunch of unredeemed points that I converted into 200 dollars of Amazon credit and I thought “You know what? Let’s get one of those Instant Pot dealies.”
So, here we are.
I’m not going to be “Instant Pot exclusive” with Sunday Gravy for the rest of the season but I am going to put this bastard through it’s paces to help you, the loyal reader, decide if one of these damn things is worth the money and is all that the internet has cracked it up to be.
C’mon Instant Pot! What the fuck you got?
Confession time. This is my very first pressure cooker and my first effort at utilizing one.
Let’s un-box this fucker and see what we got.
Here are the various settings and the minimal controls.
Here you can see the steam release valves and the pressure cookery shit.
The Instant Pot comes with…
A little plastic spatula thing, a plastic spoon, a flimsy little measuring cup – that sure doesn’t look like 8 ounces to me and a steamer basket.
The instructions and the recipes call this steam basket insert a “trivet.”
You know, the trouble with trivets….
Sorry, I’m old.
I also ordered a couple of cookbooks that have nothing but Instant Pot recipes.
Having never fucked around with a pressure cooker I was a bit intimidated since I’ve heard a few horror stories.
But this damn thing has so many fail safes and controls in place that it won’t even start to cook until everything is correctly in place.
This message showed up for a couple of reasons. One, I had the steam release vent in the “vent” position instead of the “sealed” position and 2 – I had also sauteed the ingredients in the pot and the pot itself needed a tad more deglazing prior to starting the pressure cooking process.
The instructions and quick start guide said to give the thing a “test run” by adding a couple of cups of water then run the “steam” cycle to give everything a quick clean. I did so. Instead of letting the steam “natural” release by leaving it alone I opened the quick release guide and sent a low pressure system of steam right the fuck up to my kitchen ceiling. Try and let it depressurize a bit first kids.
OK now that I’ve got a base knowledge of how this fucker works, what should our first foray into the Instant Pot world be?
How about one of my first recipes? Texas chili!
Eschewing all other recipes I went back to my very own tried and true personal Texas chili recipe. After some research and some deep thought the one constant that came to mind was if we pressure cook this it won’t slow cook down and thicken since the liquid won’t be slowly evaporated. Therefore: I’ll use less liquid. Everything else stayed the same.
Here’s the original ingredient list.
“1 big ass slab of chuck roast, about 3 pounds cut into chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of oil, canola or safflower or whatever you have on hand
1 large white onion chopped, reserve some for a topping later (if you are onion inclined)
7 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large jalapenos fire roasted and minced*
1 large poblano pepper fire roasted and minced*
1 28 oz can of crushed san marzano tomatoes.
1/2 cup (that is correct) of chili powder. I’m using Gepharts today because it’s a Texas thing
1 tablespoon of cumin
(2) 12 oz beers. Use a nice cheap domestic for this
a little splash of vinegar at the end – trust me
Grated cheese, minced onion and some Fritos – if you want – for a garnish.”
The only variation today was I reduced the amount of beer added. Instead of two full 12 ounce cans I used about 6-8 ounces of beer. Everything else stayed the same. Although instead of a poblano chili I used a pasilla chili pepper. Use either. I also used 3 jalapenoes instead of 2.
I thought I would give you a better pictorial today than my first recipe because pictures and shit.
Let’s get to fire-roasting the peppers.
Yep, these will get tossed right on the burner to blister the skin. The fire-roasting gives a nice flavor and will also let us peel the peppers when they are roasted. Here’s the bunch after fire roasting.
Place these in a paper bag for a few minutes to steam and then they can be peeled, de-seeded and chopped.
You will probably think “Wow, this pot allows us to sear the meat and pre-cook the veggies and then will quickly pressure cook the chili and it’s so goddamn simple!”
You still got to chop and prep shit, Podner. This shit ain’t that advanced.
Get your ingredients ready.
You still have to cube the meat and chop the veggies THEN we can turn on the new toy and get to work.
Plug the fucker in and set it to “saute.”
You won’t need to set a time on the saute function, just let it warm for a couple of minutes and you will be ready to start.
You can brown the chunks of beef right in the motherfucking pot! Check that shit out! Don’t try that in a slow cooker! Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown on 2 sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Next deglaze the pot with the 6-8 ounces of beer. Then we can saute the veggies.
I used a wooden spoon like I always do. Saute the onions and chilies first for a few minutes just until slightly translucent. Then add in the garlic for just a moment.
Get all that shit up in there!
Turn the Instant Pot off for a moment. Take the lid and put it on the pot into the “locked” position. Make sure the steam/pressure release switch is in the down position, then you will turn the pot on, set the mode to “pressure cook”, set the level to “high” and set the timer for 30 minutes.
Thirty fucking minutes.
That linked recipe cooks the chili for three goddamn hours.
See the allure?
The Instant Pot will need about 5 or so minutes to get up to the proper temperature and you can follow the progress with the gauge at the bottom of the display. When it is up to temp and ready to rock the timer will start and you are cooking with steam!
When you first get started using this you will notice some odd instructions for after the cooking process. Things like “10 minute natural steam release” or “instant release.” This means once the cooking is done you will either stop the cooking process, which can be done by turning on the “warm” function when you set the pot up to cook, as seen here,
which allows for the “natural” release by simply leaving the pot alone. If you do the “instant release” you will be getting a serious blast of goddamn steam that will last for several minutes and give you a chili facial. Not optimum. Let the recipes be your guide.
For us, once the chili has cooked the allotted 30 minutes, the pressure cooking will stop, it will shift into the “warm” mode and a new timer will start. This one counts up from the end of the cooking cycle.
This is a 10 minute “natural” steam release. When the 10 minutes of steam release have elapsed, we will then “instant” release the steam. I used a kitchen towel over the steam vent to keep the steam at bay.
Please ALSO note the cooking location. Near a sink and near an open window. One other item of note, the outside of the Instant Pot remains cool to the touch during cooking. Nice! Once all of the steam has released from the pot you can unlock and remove the lid.
Let’s have a peek-a-loo shall we?
Bah God! That looks like chili! Holy crap, it smells like Texas chili too! Let’s ladle us up a bowl.
I left the pot in the “warm” mode until dinner was over and I was ready for clean up.
As I mentally pondered the difference between slow stove-top cooking and the insanely quick pressure cooking, my brain told me “I think the stove-top method is a little more balanced and complex. The fatty richness may be more prevalent…”
That’s just my brain fucking with me.
This shit was fucking delightful.
I mean look at this.
/ by “look at this” I mean enlarge this photo.
I didn’t think there was any way in HELL that the meat would be that tender after just 30 minutes of pressure.
It was that tender.
I didn’t think the flavors would disperse through the entire chili without stirring it and only cooking it for 30 minutes.
Did I stand in the kitchen and watch the damn thing cook thinking I needed to be more involved with the cooking.
Fuck yes I did.
Round one of the Instant Pot challenge – passed!
This was fucking awesome.
Don’t get all crazy and whip out your credit cards or your dicks just yet! Let’s give this a few more tries before investing the 150 bucks.
That’s what I’m here for.
Thanks for reading folks.
I’m going to try 2 recipes on this fucker next week to really test it’s mettle.
We’ll see you then.