I know spring is just around the corner, but the temperature keeps dipping lower and it’s starting to wreak havoc on my mood and my patience for never-ending indoor cooking. Dangit—I miss my grill! Snow has covered and surrounded it for too long. Not to mention, my dishwasher has had more repair appointments than I care to talk about. It first quick working in September, and I am starting to wonder what I used to do with my free time before washing an obscene amount of dishes took over my schedule.
In one word—tedious!
Grilling involves minimal clean up, and I dreadfully miss not having to spend so much time doing dishes. Wintertime meals that warm your soul generally take a bit more time and effort. However, I recently joined the Instant Pot craze, and it’s a game changer. Really, it’s a one-pot-wonder!
My mom gave me an Instant Pot as a Christmas gift this past year, and let me tell you, it ranks right up there with the robot vacuum cleaner she gave to me as a Christmas gift after my son was born. Both gifts allow me to spend more quality time with my kids and get caught up on those extra to-do’s always piling up. We actually nicknamed our robot vacuum “Rosie” from The Jetsons, and she always gets “employee of the month” in our household.
I’m not kidding—my daughter has even admitted her love for Rosie because that little vacuum super hero frees up Mommy’s playtime. And we all know most moms would rather play than clean any day of the week. Then there’s the farm and our dirt driveway—our garage gets dirty the second it is cleaned. We track plenty of gravel and dirt into our house on a regular basis. Cleaning the feedlot’s office is 20 times more pointless. If Rosie could handle the feedlot’s clods of mud and rock, I’d consider purchasing one to save time on cleaning there, as well. Have I sold you on getting a robot vacuum, yet??
If I cleaned the feedlot office, and no one witnessed it, did it really happen??
Back to the Instant Pot . . . I am looking forward to having this new gadget as my companion during Harvest season. Having to turn out an additional six to eight meals a day for the guys in the field will be a heck of a lot easier with an Instant Pot! Plus, the guys really enjoy soup in to-go mugs on those cool, crisp fall evenings. Bonus points: All that extra simmering time of conventional cooking methods for soup will be cut down to one hour total in most cases. Woo!
I’ll admit, the first time I used it, part of me felt as though I should be standing at least five feet away while it was building up pressure. To remember the significance of the float valve’s position, I told myself that up equals ugly because you’ll be ugly the rest of your life if you take that lid off when the float valve is up (signifying high pressure). I read plenty of reviews about how the Instant Pot’s safety measures took the scare out of pressure cookers, but still, part of me worried that I’d miss something imperative for keeping my face and kitchen intact.
That being said, I had nothing to worry about—it really is foolproof (I mean, yes, my instinct takes over now and then as I creep behind a corner and peek at the Instant Pot to see how it’s doing from afar, but the point is that I’m getting over it—slowly). I bought two Instant Pot recipe books with specific instructions, but now that I’ve gotten comfortable with the techniques, I think I could convert plenty of traditional recipes into Instant Pot versions without any worry. Posole was one of my favorite conversions, yet (the kids may think it’s too spicy at their age, but my husband loves it—recipe to come!).
To sum it up on my overall Instant Pot experience, I’d have to say that most recipes aren’t necessarily faster than traditional cooking methods, but they allow a lot of inactive time where you can be away from the kitchen getting other things done—which is a pretty sweet deal for busy lifestyles. For instance, risotto is normally a labor-intensive process of slowly adding liquid and constantly stirring to create that creamy effect with the starches of the arborio rice, but with the Instant Pot there is zero labor and the pressure cooking time is only 12 minutes. I mean, I’m not trying to sell you on this Instant Pot craze or anything, but I feel the need to share its wowing features with busy parents especially.
My favorite benefit of the Instant Pot is that the process of overnight soaking of dry beans is now a thing of the past! All you need to do is rinse the dry beans, toss them in and press the Beans/Chili option (with the correct amount of liquid to beans ratio, of course).
My daughter loves to bring soup to school in a little thermos during the winter months, and chili happens to be in her top five favorites. So today I’m sharing my Instant Pot chili recipe. With this quick winter meal recipe, I might even have some extra time to play a board game with my kids, or get caught up on painting my toenails—whichever works out (maybe both in this case). Enjoy!
Note: If you’re new to your Instant Pot (or if you haven’t gotten it out of the box because you’re intimidated by its uncertainty, thus far), here’s a super helpful list of quick tips and information to simplify things. It sure helped me out when I was looking for answers to why my Instant Pot read “burn” on the digital screen. Turns out you should never add thick sauces like tomato sauce to the inner pot before pressure cooking—only after pressure cooking should you ever add thick sauces or even diced tomatoes. So don’t try to shortcut this recipe by adding all ingredients before pressure cooking—it won’t make for an “instant” process.
INSTANT POT CHILI
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour 40 minutes
INACTIVE TIME: 55 minutes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lbs ground beef or stew meat or cubed chunks of chuck roast
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried cilantro
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 (12-oz) beer
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 1/2 cup dried black beans, rinsed but not soaked overnight
- 1 1/2 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed but not soaked overnight
- 2 quarts (8 cups total) tomato sauce or canned diced tomatoes
- 1 (7-oz) can of green chiles, optional
- 1 minced chipotle in Adobo sauce, optional
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Set the SAUTE function at “more” (highest heat level) for 20 minutes on the Instant Pot, and allow to preheat before adding a drizzle of canola oil and brown the ground beef (if using stew meat or cubes chuck roast just brown on all sides quickly and then remove to a plate before adding onions and peppers to sauté). Once ground beef is cooked through, turn off Instant Pot and remove stainless steel pot insert to drain grease. Place pot back into Instant Pot pressure cooker and set SAUTE function at “more” for 10 minutes. Add the onions, peppers and garlic to the ground beef and sauté until softened. Add the seasoning, cocoa and brown sugar along with beer. Let beer simmer for 5 minutes or until alcohol smell is gone. Stir in the broth and beans.
Secure the lid. Make sure you’ve set the steam release valve to “Sealing.” Select “Bean/Chili” function (or you can select “Pressure Cook” and adjust Pressure level to “high pressure” and cook for 30 minutes—either way is the same).
Once cooking is complete, use a natural release for about 15 minutes, (if the float valve is still up after the 15 minutes on natural release, use a quick release for the remainder of time).
Remove lid once float valve is down. Set the SAUTE function at “more” (highest heat level) for 15 minutes and add the tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. (If you’re using the optional green chiles and chipotle in Adobo sauce, add them now, as well). Let simmer and stir in the chocolate to melt before serving.