Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! 2019 has finally arrived and along with the New Year comes a plethora of resolutions. “I will eat healthier. I will exercise more. I’ll give up junk food. I’ll start my diet. Maybe I’ll finally take my Instant Pot out of the box and start cooking some quick and easy meals so I’ll have the time to do all the things that are on my list!
I bought my Instant Pot about a year ago and it took me at least a month just to get it out of the box. I’ve been busy working on a new cookbook that focuses on brain health, so I just haven’t found the time to master yet another new appliance. Each time I decided to make something in the Instant Pot, I had to refer to the instruction manual to check how to turn it on! Sometimes I phone my friends and ask, “How long? Which setting?” Like most people, I cook on auto-pilot, which usually means cooking dinner in my oven, putting everything together in one pan.
Read my article on One-Pan Dinners here: https://www.cjnews.com/food/the-shabbat-table-one-pan-dinners.
Gradually, I’ve managed to cook up some tasty meals in my Instant Pot, some successfully, others not quite as successful. My chicken soup always turns out well and my sweet and sour meatballs are scrumptious. However, unstuffed cabbage with ‘what-were-supposed-to-be-mini-meatballs’ somehow morphed into cabbage soup because I overcooked it! No problem; it still tasted great.
Once you get over feeling intimidated, start off simply by making soup. Because a pressure cooker seals itself and pressurizes the liquid to cook the food, soups come out extremely flavourful compared to those that are cooked on the stovetop. Fill your pot with some vegetables, add some pieces of chicken or meat, maybe add a grain (e.g., barley or pasta), add water to cover along with some herbs and spices. Press the soup button and let your Instant Pot do the rest—just set it and forget it!
I have friends who adore their Instant Pot and cook up wonderful dishes on a regular basis. Myrna Benderoff uses hers almost every day. She said that everyone loves her Instant Pot Chicken Soup (see her recipe below). My recipe is very similar to hers, except I add a couple of ribs of celery and cook it using the automatic Soup Cycle. You can also use chicken pieces instead of bones. Some people have said that you can even use chicken straight from the freezer—it will just take a little longer for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure.
Robin Baron Jacobs shared: “Chicken soup is a game changer in the Instant Pot! I have the 6-quart. I do my soup for 75 minutes and it tastes like it was cooked for hours. I do chicken breasts which you can use to put on top of salads or in healthy wraps. I make cod and salmon, which come out great. Any healthy soup can be made in no time.”
Robin continued, “I like to use my Instant Pot for frozen salmon for a quick dinner. I put my salmon in my steamer rack. I use a cup of water and put lemon slices and dill on the salmon. Close the lid and manually set the pot to 4 minutes, then do a quick release. You can use any seasoning and herbs you like. This really works out great when you haven’t decided yet at 5 pm what you are making for dinner! You can take out a frozen chuck roast and make a delicious pot roast in about 70 minutes. Throw some veggies and meat into the pot, close the lid and go do whatever. I love my Instant Pot!”
One of the benefits to pressure cooking is how tender meat comes out in a fraction of the time. With an Instant Pot, you can buy less expensive cuts of meat because the pressure inside the pot tenderizes it incredibly. Ribs and chicken fall off the bone, stewing meat and pot roasts come out soft and tender.
Lawrence LeVine, one of my foodie-friends, is an Instant Pot expert. He’s done cooking demos for his synagogue, using several machines at the same time! He advises: “If you search Brisket in Kosher Instant Pot group, you’ll find rave reviews about this recipe, the BEST brisket on the internet!
Penny Krowitz recently posted: “I have been making yummy applesauce for many years, but I recently made it in my Instant Pot and it was sensational. I will not make it any other way from now on! I cut up enough apples to fill my 6-quart nearly to the top (peeled, cored, and sliced) and added the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon, along with some cinnamon, desired sweetener, and 3 cinnamon sticks. I added 1 cup of water and cooked it for about 10 minutes. Open the lid and stir well. I like a bit of texture but if you want it totally smooth, you may have to cook it a little longer.”
Paula Greenberg Weil commented: “I use really red apples (MacIntosh preferably). I wash, quarter, and core them, but I do not peel them. When it’s cooked, the red peel imparts a beautiful rosy colour to the applesauce. The peels are very easy to pull out.”
So take your Instant Pot out of the box, join the Kosher Instant Pot Group on Facebook (click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1015452791854857/ and start cooking!
MYRNA BENDEROFF’S INSTANT POT CHICKEN SOUP
Perfect soup every time! Myrna uses a 6 quart Instant Pot for this recipe.
2 packs of kosher chicken bones
5 or 6 large peeled carrots (or one small bag mini carrots)
Large bunch of washed dill (I like to put it in a cheese cloth or soup sock but it’s not necessary)
1 large onion, cut in half
Peeled small parsnip (if you have one)
2 tsp kosher salt (approx.)
1/2 tsp pepper
Water as needed
- Place all ingredients in a 6 quart Instant Pot, adding the water last. Add water to the top of the ‘max’ line.
- Cover and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. Use natural release pressure (NPR).
MYRNA’S INSTANT POT MATZO BALLS
If it’s not Passover and you like fluffy matzo balls, then add 1/4 tsp baking powder. The baking powder makes them fluffy and they’ll swell up more, but if you like them firm, just omit the baking powder.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp water or chicken soup
1/2 cup matzo meal
3 litres water + 1 1/2 tsp salt in the water
- In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, salt, water and matzo meal; stir well. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring water and salt to a boil on Saute Cycle in a 6 quart Instant Pot.
- Once the water is boiling, roll small matzo balls about 1 inch diameter, or even a little smaller, wetting your hands to help shape them. Gently drop each one into boiling water; make sure they are all floating.
- Then, close the pot and apply High Pressure for 12 minutes, with a 5 minute release of pressure.
Note: The same recipe could be done in a regular pot on the stovetop for about 30 minutes of boiling, covered, but I like the Instant Pot because I am not tempted to open the pot and peek!
PATRICIA ALTMAN’S INSTANT POT BONE SOUP
Patricia Altman loves to make Bone Soup in her Instant Pot. On the stovetop, it takes her 40–48 hours of cooking, but her 8-quart Instant Pot cuts down on the cooking time considerably. Restorative!
1 pkg chicken bones
1 or 2 turkey wings
1 knuckle bone
Pepper to taste
3–4 cloves garlic
Water, as needed
2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
1 medium onion
3–4 carrots, halved
2–3 stalks celery
1 medium potato
2–3 garlic cloves (to taste)
- Sprinkle chicken bones, turkey wing and knuckle bone with garlic and pepper. Roast, uncovered, in a preheated 400ºF oven about 5 minutes per side. Let cool.
- Rinse bones. Place in a cheesecloth bag (often called a soup sock) with whole garlic cloves and peppercorns. Add water to maximum fill line; add salt. Press Saute Cycle and bring to a boil (uncovered). Skim off any scum.
- Press Cancel. Cover and seal Instant Pot. Press Soup Cycle, increasing cooking time to 8–10 hours. Go amuse yourself while soup is cooking!
- Remove and discard bones. (Patricia puts them in a bowl to drain, then adds the liquid back to the pot.
- Place Vegetable Mixture in a soup bag and add to broth. Cover and seal pot. Cook on Soup Cycle for 60–90 minutes to extract flavours. Let pressure release naturally. Discard vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.