Our Paleo Family

My Tips for Instant Pot Success

A couple announcements before diving into the Instant Pot (well, not literally diving in – they’re not that big):

  1. I will be at Harmony Farms in Raleigh this coming Saturday, January 21st, from 11 AM – 2 PM handing out samples of my paleo cookies. If you’ve seen the shop page and wondered what a paleo cookie tastes like or if they’re worth the cost, I can guarantee you they’re amazing and yes, they’re worth every penny. Harmony Farms is located at 5653 Creedmoor Rd , Raleigh , NC 27612. I’d love to see you there.
  2. If you haven’t already, please like my Facebook page – Facebook.com/ourpaleofamily and if you are active on Pinterest, please follow me there. You can see all the other great Paleo folks I’m following. There are some amazing ideas out there! And if I have more followers, it makes me look good. 🙂

Now onto the Instant Pot:

After hearing from numerous people over the past year and a half that I simply must get an Instant Pot, I bit the bullet and bought one right after Christmas – all in the name of research for the blog, of course. The things I do for you!

You may be wondering why I was so hesitant If everyone is always singing the praises of this particular appliance. Well, it’s because of my grand dislike of crock pot food. I was afraid that this new contraption was just another way of making bland, over-cooked meat.

I’m very happy to say that I was wrong.

I’ve only had this kitchen wonder in my possession for two weeks, but I’ve used it a ton! I’ve made:

  • Kalua Pork and Cabbage from Nom Nom Paleo
  • Paleo BBQ Baby Back Ribs
  • Beef Roast/Stew with Carrots, Potatoes and Onions
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Chicken Bone Broth (twice)
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sweet and Sour Cabbage (Blaukraut – for our German feast for school)

There are a lot of great websites with Instant Pot Recipes, many of them paleo and many others just pressure cooking sites. But for all the recipes I read and used as a reference point, I missed some tips that I have had to figure out on my own and I wish someone would have told me.

With all due credit to the Instant Pot experts out there: it’s highly likely that this information was somewhere on their sites, but I didn’t see it. And it wasn’t with the recipes, which is where I looked for it. So I’m giving you my tips. In the coming weeks, I will be posting all my Instant Pot recipes. Most are my original recipes, already posted, which have just been reimagined for the Instant Pot, but the methods and timing are completely different so I will post an entirely new recipe.

Here are things to keep in mind when working with your Instant Pot – tips I wish someone would have told me:

  • It looks like you can remove the inner stainless steel pot (you can) and then also the next layer down (looks like cast iron), but you cannot remove that piece. So when ladling your food out of the stainless steel pot, be careful not to drip in that outer rim area because it’s a pain to clean. Here, I’ve placed a dish cloth in that area so any drips from my ladle will hit the cloth. Or just carefully remove the inner pot and place on a pot holder. That’s tricky though when the pot is full, as it is here with my broth.

  • Be mindful of where you place your Instant Pot. If you need to use the quick pressure release, a lot – I mean A LOT – of steam will come out, straight up, and you don’t want that steam bombarding your cabinets, delicate light fixtures, wall paper, etc. Unless you are wanting to remove your wallpaper or refinish your cabinets.
  • Also regarding that steam release: steam is hot and it will burn you. Make sure you cover your hand (see video) and flip that switch quickly and move your hand out of the way. And make sure you aren’t bent over looking at the steam release valve. This is not the steam facial you’re looking for.
  • Timing is a big deal. All the recipes I read told me how long to set my Instant Pot to cook. They did not tell me that it can take up to 30 minutes for the pot to come under pressure. Your cooking time will not start until that pressure has been reached, so if you intend to cook your food for 20 minutes and think you will have dinner on the table in 30, you are mistaken. It will take about an hour. You need to account for the pressurizing and depressurizing time. To depressurize naturally takes 15-30 minutes, depending on the volume of food/liquid inside. A quick pressure release takes 1-2 minutes.
  • It’s easy (though a little time consuming) to do a quick release, check the done-ness of your food and then re-pressurize and cook longer if necessary. My beef roast was apparently from one old, tough cow because it took a really long time to get tender. A full 3 times as long as all the recipes I saw. If I were having company for dinner that night, I would have been in trouble. Bottom line on the timing: allow yourself ample time. The Instant Pot does an excellent job of keeping food hot for a long time after the cooking is complete so if it’s done earlier than you need, just let it sit and keep warm.
  • Regarding keeping the food hot: do not take advantage of that feature where vegetables are concerned. They will cook very, very quickly and unless you want to make baby food, you will not want to keep them warm in the Instant Pot. When I made cabbage for the Kalua Pork and the BlauKraut, it was done to my liking (still with a little body, not too mushy) in just 5 minutes of cooking time. With meat, you have a lot more grace than with vegetables.
  • Broth in the Instant Pot is a wonder. To get the most from your bone broth, it really needs to cook on the stove for 2-3 days. In the Instant Pot, it’s done in an afternoon. I hate dealing with bone broth: the straining, the storing, the cleaning up, the smell. I love the result so I do it anyway. Plus, I can’t bear to throw away perfectly good bones that I know could be beneficial. Before I had my Instant Pot, I would see my broth boiling away on the stove day after day and it would taunt me. I knew the processing and cleaning was coming and I was dreading it. With the Instant Pot, the process is still the same in the end, it’s just over a lot faster and that is extremely valuable.

There you have my general tips for Instant Pot success. As I said, in the coming weeks, I’ll be posting all my Instant Pot revised recipes. I’ll tell you right now that the Baby Back ribs are a game changer. I buy ribs when they’re on sale then they sit in my freezer for ages because I know they are a labor of love to prepare: 5-6 hours in the oven, another hour on the grill. Ugh. They are good, but is any food worth that? The Instant Pot ribs, cooked right in the BBQ sauce, were simply amazing. The sauce was so darn rich and flavorful, I could have eaten it with a spoon. Oh yeah, I did eat it with a spoon. Rib soup anyone? Maybe that sounds gross, but wait till you make it. You’ll do the same thing!

My videographer/husband made a little 19 minute movie of me preparing the beef roast. It is a tad long, but he felt that all the information was so valuable, we had to leave it all in. Feel free to speed along or skip to the exciting parts. 🙂

I should tell you that I have this model. I was worried that it wouldn’t be big enough, but it’s just right. The bigger one would likely just be a pain to store.

Now for a few random thoughts: It was my birthday last week and my daughter made me a cake! Actually, she made it in November and we ate half of it, then it was Thanksgiving and we didn’t need more food, so we froze it knowing my birthday was coming in a couple months. Her beautiful flowers got squished, so we scraped them off, made fresh frosting and re-decorated. I even got a decorating lesson from the master. This cake is not paleo, but it is gluten free, made with my gluten free flour mix (no gums!) and some almond flour. It’s a nice, light, fluffy cake that’s a great facsimile for traditional white or yellow cake. The recipe will be in part two of my holiday cookbook.

In case you want to send me a gift, I’ll take one of these:

Or this one would be ok too:

My husband took me to an Art Deco car exhibit to celebrate my big day. These cars truly were works of art. But they wouldn’t let me sit in any or even touch them. Museum staff can be so persnickety!

One more random thought for today: we love to hike, especially when waterfalls are involved. Do you have a favorite hiking spot? I’d love to hear about it. We live on the east coast, but hope to see the whole country someday, so share your favorite spots in the comments. This is Yellow Branch Falls in Walhalla, South Carolina. My family spent a few days in this area at Christmas. Simply beautiful.

Happy week everyone. I’ll be back Wednesday with the Instant Pot Ribs recipe.

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