The multifaceted kitchen appliance Instant Pot is all the rage. The device can slow cook, steam, stew and even make yogurt and cheesecake. The silver pot with a black lid has 16 multifunction buttons that can be intimidating initially, but once mastered, it is a lifesaver. It is one of the appliances I can’t live without. I actually own three; the most recent purchase has a Sous Vide setting.
It is one of the appliances I can’t live without. I actually own three; the most recent purchase has a Sous Vide setting.
Settings include soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, poultry, slow cook, sauté (a highly important function in my opinion), rice, multigrain, porridge, steam and yogurt — the last five buttons are pressure level, delay start, keep warm, cancel and pressure cook. Did I mention I love my Instant Pot?
I invited Tahoe Weekly Publisher Katherine Hill and Family Editor Michelle Allen to come by my place recently to learn the art of cooking with Instant Pot. I set out to show them its multiversatile abilities. Moroccan stew with garbanzo beans and vegetables, couscous, roasted butternut rounds and tossed green salad was on the menu.
We cooked the garbanzo beans from scratch in the Instant Pot, using 1 cup of organic garbanzo beans. We covered them with four cups of water and a pinch of salt. I twisted the lid on, hit the bean/chili function and let Instant Pot do its thing. They were not soaked overnight advance, no need to with the Instant Pot.
While the beans were cooking, I prepped the vegetables for the stew — the butternut squash was the hardest to cut up and cube. I used half of the squash for the stew and sliced the neck of the squash into quarter-inch rounds. I laid the rounds on a sheet pan and drizzled them with olive oil and salt and baked them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. I flipped them over halfway through until they browned on both sides.
I used my second Instant Pot to make the stew. I used the soup function for this particular step. I’ve shared my Moroccan Stew recipe with countless friends in Truckee. It’s delicious; the spices make this dish a hit. The Instant Pot method doesn’t change the flavor from the stovetop technique at all.
I checked the garbanzo beans at 30 minutes, and we determined they needed a bit more time. I added another 10 minutes to the cooking process.
“Those are the best chickpeas I’ve ever tasted,” said Hill.
Once the beans were done, I added them to the stew with the zucchini and raisins and closed the lid to allow the zucchini to steam cook in the heat of the stew. In the meantime, I made the couscous on the stove.
Dinner was ready. I ladled the stew onto the couscous and topped it with fresh cilantro. Both Hill and Allen enjoyed their meal. Allen asked about adding chicken, which is super easy. Sear the chicken — I prefer thighs — in olive oil on the sauté function, so it’s lightly cooked on both sides and then add the rest of the ingredients.
Indeed this is a one-pot meal; if you cook the garbanzo beans first, add the stew ingredients and cook everything all together. For a quicker version, use canned organic beans and pre-cut squash — dinner can be ready in less than 30 minutes.
While I’ve used my Instant Pot for chicken soup, beef stew, pulled pork for carnitas, short ribs, chicken cacciatore and any slow-cooker recipe, I’ve yet to master desserts — but that’s next on my Instant Pot cooking adventure.
From the kitchen of Priya Hutner
½ package organic chickpeas
4 cups water or stock
1 tsp salt
Place chickpeas in Instant Pot with water or stock and salt. Select bean setting to cook; no need to soak beans in advance. Let sit for 10 minutes after it finishes.
1½ cups couscous
1½ cups water or stock
Bring water to a boil. Add dash of olive oil to water. Add couscous. Replace lid and turn off heat. Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
Chicken thighs (optional)
4 cups water
3 cans diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped, or use fingerlings
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cubed butternut squash (can use pre-cut butternut squash)
1 large sweet potato, chopped
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans or 1 cup from scratch
1 cinnamon stick
1 T salt
1½ t cumin
1½ t turmeric
Dash cayenne, optional
1¼ Cups raisins
1 zucchini, chopped
½ Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Cut up the chicken thighs, if using, and sear on both sides in 2 tablespoons olive oil in the Instant Pot. Add all of the other ingredients except the zucchini and raisins. Add the beans if precooked or canned at the same time.
Cook on the soup setting until finished. Remove the cinnamon stick. Add the zucchini and raisins and close the lid to let them steam by the heat of the stew for 5 to 10 minutes. Prepare the couscous while they steam. Serve the stew over the couscous and top with the cilantro.