Saturday, December 30, 2017

Most useful instant pot accessories

If you are a new instant pot owner, and you've fallen in love with your IP you might be wondering which accessories you need to get the most out of your new appliance!

I have the instant pot 6-quart duo - if you have a different size (such as a 3-quart mini or an 8-quart), take that into consideration when looking for accessories. The recommended items won't necessarily fit.

You can easily buy a bunch of accessories so I suggest living with your new IP for a little while before diving it and thinking about your want to use your pot. I've sorted accessories into what I deem to be useful and some others which are popular but might depend on how you want to use your pot.

Most useful accessories

1. Silicone pot lid
If I make a big batch of something, I like to be able to store it directly in my IP. So the first thing I bought for my new baby was a pot lid. I did not splurge for the IP brand lid because I'm thrifty. I bought this one and it has been great so far.

2. Interior pan
You'll probably want a small pan that can fit (make sure to get the 7in x 2 or 3in size!) inside your pot, which is at max 7 inches in diameter. It needs to be able to have space around it and it needs to be safe for the IP so metal or silicone most likely. I do not recommend using anything glass or ceramic, though I know some people use mason jars in their pots. I have personally never tried it, proceed with caution. 
7in fat dadio pan

Having a pan to do "pot-in-pot" meals (called PIP in instant pot lingo) can really open up your meal options because you can cook one part of a meal below, such as potatoes and one on top in the other pan, such as meatloaf at the same time.

You could also use this same pan to make baked goods like cheesecake, but if you want your cheesecake to be pretty, you'll need a separate spring-form pan. I personally, use the same one because I already have a 10 in spring-form for full-sized cheesecakes

3. Steamer basket
Similar to having an interior pan, a steamer basket can allow you to cook some veggies at the same time as whatever you are making below, such as your chicken main dish. This accessory opens up more cooking options. I think this is a little less useful than an interior pan because you could probably use the same interior pan for most veggies but they're not quite steamed...

4. Extra pan instert
If you start using your instant pot every day, you'll want to get an extra pan insert. I often have mine either storing something in the fridge or in the dishwasher and realize it's not available when I go to cook something new. Having an extra can easily solve this problem.

These 4 items are what I would consider to be the most helpful accessories for your new instant pot! There are some other popular accessories, which are useful, depending on what you plan on making but less universally so.

5. clear glass lid
This lid can only be used with the instant pot in slow cooker or saute mode. You cannot use it when pressure cooking! If you plan on using this feature, you'll like one of these.

6. Egg bite mold
The copycat starbucks sous vide egg bites have a cult following! If you want to make them or the lava cakes you will need a mold like this one. Amazon can hardly keep these bad boys in stock at times, if you need to search you want to look for "silicon baby food mold" and find one in a round shape with wells that are approximately 2oz.

Baby food container or instant pot accessory? Same. Same.

7. Extra sealing rings
Some people complain that their sealing ring gets a smell after some time. After months of use, my ring hasn't had any odor. I store my lid upside down in the pot and I think this helps but if your ring gets funky, you can soak it in vinegar. If that doesn't work sufficiently, you can order replacements from IP

8. Silicone sling
Again, the usefulness of this accessory will depend on how you use your IP. If you do a lot of PIP meals, having a sling like this to lift the hot interior pan out will be really handy. If you only do PIP occasionally, it will be less useful. If you don't buy a silicone one, you can DIY a foil one each time you need it. 

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Best newbie recipes for the instant pot

While I really love my instant pot (IP) it was a little overwhelming when I first got it. It is so weird not to be able to see my food cooking! I'm used to taking a peak to see how it looks while it's cooking!

If you're new to the IP or thinking about buying one (the holiday sales are here!) you can read all about why I love mine here. If you already have yours but aren't sure what to do, check out my suggestions for easy recipes for new IP owners!

1. Basic pulled pork
This was quickest and easiest pulled pork I've every made. The IP really shines when cooking meat that is normally prepared "low and slow."

Put a 4lb pork butt or shoulder on top of your trivet, pour on a cup of water and a cup of barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ) and set the IP on manual, high pressure for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Natural pressure release (NPR) for 10-20 minutes and then quick release (QR). Overall cook and prep time is less than 2 hours, quite a bit less.

2. Butternut squash
Much easier and faster than roasting it in the oven. It's a game changer. Directions are here.

3. Baked potatoes
I love baked potatoes (especially to take to work for lunch) but they take a really long time in the oven. I ain't got time for that. Now I make them in my instant pot in half an hour. Here is a recipe I like from Aunt Bees Recipes. If your potatoes are really big, you might need to add a couple of extra minutes. The first time I did this I had really big potatoes and they were a little under-done. Like cooking in the oven or on the stove, you'll get a feel for that an know when to add 1-2 extra minutes over time.

4. Chicken black bean rice burrito bowls
This is my go-to instant pot whole meal. I love it and it's somewhat healthy, until I cover it in sour cream. Then it's delicious. Here is the recipe from Cook Fast Eat Well. I made this every other week when I first got my IP. It makes a great dinner for 2 with leftovers for another 2 meals for each of us.

5. Mac and cheese
I love making mac and cheese in the IP, I might never buy boxed mac again. I started with this recipe from Dad Cooks Dinner but I even found his to be more complicated than necessary. I don't add the butter, mustard or hot pepper sauce and I use whatever cheese mix I have on hand, usually about 50% cheddar. Sometimes I toss in a few drops of liquid smoke when mixing in the cheese to give a smokier flavor. If I'm being fancy I will toast the bread crumbs on top but a lot of times I will skip that too.

Still a little unsure of where to start? Check out my 6 tips for new IP owners and the most useful accessories to go with your new IP!