Have you heard of the Instant Pot yet? If not, you will, and it very well might take up space on your counter very soon.I started hearing whispers of this new appliance about a year back. The raves on the internet were that people simply could not live without it. I have been getting along, just fine, thank you very much. As long as I have a good, sharp knife, a solid cutting board and some reliable pots and pans I am all set.

My manta right now: downsize and streamline.

But, as I am in the business of teaching people how to also streamline and making cooking healthy yet simple, I was intrigued. This 6 in 1 pressure cooker might actually save some time. And saying time is always a good thing.

But pressure cooking? I actually had a pressure cooker from years back. The old school kind, that if left unchecked, could blow a hole through your roof. I think the handle fell off of it and into the recycling bin it went, never to be thought of again.

Yet, pressure cookers have come a long way in terms of safety, and apparently now they go beyond just cooking beans. The Instant Pot says it can cook rice, saute, make desserts, stews, soups eggs. All in a matter of minutes. Do I need a new appliance to cook my eggs? Because last I made eggs, they only took about 2 minutes.

Since I am not proficient yet with pressure cooker dinners I decided to look up a few recipes, deciding on Chicken Tikka Masala. I also decided to start this recipe very close to dinner time to really put time constraints to the test.

I first used the “sauté” function to cook my onions, garlic and spices. As a chef, this made no sense to me. The insert of the Instant Pot is flimsy, not like my sturdy All Clad pans. And there is no way to adjust the temperature. But I could see the time saving benefit of using just one pan and it actually sautéed my onions perfectly, never burning them.

Next went in the liquid, chicken and tomatoes. I then sealed the lid shut, pressed ON, set the timer and wished it luck. The downside to a pressure cooker is never opening up the lid. I had no idea what was going on in there, if I needed to adjust a spice or even add more liquid.

Nonetheless, a mere 10 minutes went by and my dinner was almost done. The catch is that you must, under the law of the land, let the pressure release from the pot before opening it (hence that hole in the roof story I was telling you about). This takes a good couple minutes.

After releasing the lid, I checked in the pot. I still had to add in a few ingredients, like a little bit of coconut milk and spinach (my addition to this recipe because, hey, you cannot have enough green), but those only took a minute to cook.

The recipe was a hit, but I kept wondering if I could have made it even better if I had more control of it on the stove. My curiosity was killing me while it was cooking. That said, as far as a timesaving device, the Instant Pot could turn into one of my favorites.  Stay tuned, more experimenting to come.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 cup chicken broth, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 handfuls baby spinach
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving

Directions

  1. Set an electric pressure cooker to the sauté feature. Add the oil and heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until soft and fragrant.
  2. Deglaze and add spices: Add 1/4 cup of the chicken broth. Cook, gently scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any stuck-on bits, until the chicken broth reduces by half. Add the garam masala, paprika, turmeric, salt, and cayenne pepper, and stir to combine.
  3. Add the chicken and stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth and the tomatoes.
  4. Pressure-cook: Close and lock lid. Pressure-cook for 10 minutes at HIGH pressure. When cooking time is complete, do a quick release of the pressure.
  5. Open the lid carefully and stir in the coconut milk and spinach into the sauce. Loosely cover the top to allow the spinach to wilt. Top with chopped cilantro and serve over rice.

Recipe inspiration from thekitchn.com

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