I craved Asian cuisine today, so I made Kung Pao Chicken and brown rice in the Instant Pot. I didn’t have hot peppers, hoisin sauce, or chili purée. Without the typical red chili peppers, my dish was milder than take-out. As for the condiments, I found recipes online and made my own.
We were pleased with the results. I focused on ingredients I had (fresh ginger root and fresh cilantro) and followed a Betty Crocker (Cookbook) recipe for low fat Kung Pao Chicken. I used frozen chicken thighs and modified it for the Instant Pot or any brand multi cooker.
RECIPE—Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken for Two
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Grated ginger root
1/2 cup chicken broth (from cooking the chicken)
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp Chile purée
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
Pressure cook chicken thighs in 1/2 cup water ten minutes. Allow pressure to drop on its own.
Mix a slurry of all other ingredients except broth, onions, celery, and peanuts. Set aside.
Remove chicken from pot and cut into 1” cubes. Reserve broth.
Usingsauté mode, sauté onions, peanuts, and celery in 1/2 cup of reserved broth for five minutes.
Add chicken and stir.
Add the slurry and turn off Instant Pot. Stir until sauce thickens.
Breakfast. I’m a firm advocate of eating breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day because you are “breaking” the “fast” of sleep.
I’m also no fan of fasting. Those diets that involve fasting are not for me! Just as with any meal, I will need to be creative with breakfast if I stick with my vow to stay home 30 days.
We still have eggs and egg substitutes, so today I combined the two to make a lightened version of scrambled eggs. We have plenty of Jimmy Dean turkey sausage patties in the freezer, so I added those to the menu. But the star of today’s breakfast was grits.
We love all meat yet try to limit our consumption of red meats. So I developed a recipe for beef stew that uses only half a pound of meat. By adding a pound of mushrooms, I boost theumami taste. I sneak in more vegetables, too.
This is a pressure cooker recipe that’s easily adapted to slow cooking. By using the pressure cooker, we get that cooked all day flavor in about half an hour.
Beef and Mushroom Stew
Makes 4 one-cup servings
1/2 pound beef (chuck or round works) cut into 1” chunks
1 pound mushrooms, sliced and cleaned
1 cup broth + 1 Tbsp (reserved for slurry)
2 tsp. Oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 small red or gold potatoes, sliced or cubed
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or sliced
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat cooker pot.
Generously salt and pepper the beef.
Brown the beefon all sides, then remove from pot and set aside.
Sautéonions, garlic, and mushrooms 1 minute.
Add cup of broth, deglaze bottom of pot, and return the beef to the cooker.
Seal and cook under high pressure for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare slurry by combining Worcestershire sauce, reserved broth, and cornstarch.
Remove pot from heat (or hit Cancel if using electric) and allow pressure to drop on its own.
Carefully open pot and add potatoes and carrots. Reseal.
Bring to pressure and cook 1 minute under pressure.
Remove from heat, allow pressure to drop 5 minutes on its own, then release remaining pressure.
Carefully open the cooker and checkvegetables for doneness.
Stir slurry again right before adding it to the pot. Return to heat (or use sautémode on electric models) just until sauce thickens.
Remove from heat immediately and check for seasonings. Add salt and pepper if needed and serve.
Adding fresh chopped parsleybefore serving adds flavor. Unfortunately, I was out of parsley when I cooked this stew today. Next time …
My grocer had pork tenderloins on sale this week buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO). Pork tenderloin, not to be confused with pork loin, is a lean and tender cut ideal for a Hasty Tasty Meal. It’s easily over cooked, which is why it’s crucial to distinguish tenderloin from loin. Yet it’s also difficult to pass up a BOGO, so I decided it was time to master pork tenderloin.
Baking or roasting pork tenderloin using a meat thermometer (internal temperature of 145°￼) is a foolproof cooking technique, yet I wanted to use my pressure cooker. Why? We’re campers and don’t travel with an oven or even a microwave oven. But I do have a 3 quart Instant Pot Duo Mini in my travel trailer. Even when “roughing it,” I like to prepare good meals.
I experimented with steaming the tenderloin on a trivet over the liquid as well as braising in the cooking liquid. I tried chicken broth, water, and apple juice for the cooking liquid. All techniques produced edible meat, but here’s my favorite and most successful recipe.
Hasty Tasty Pork Tenderloin Roast
1 pork tenderloin, approximately 1.5 pound
2 tsp. Canola oil or your choice vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1 apple (gala or Granny Smith works well), sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1.5 cups water
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat multi cooker on sauté mode.
When heated, add oil and brown all sides of the tenderloin.
Remove tenderloin to a plate. Add fennel, apple, and onion to the pot and sauté approximately 5 minutes. Salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
While vegetables sauté, use a sharp paring knife and make slits evenly throughout the meat to insert the garlic pieces.
Pour water slowly into the pot. Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pot of any cooked-on bits.
Return tenderloin to the cooker and place atop the fennel, apple, and onion slices.
Seal cooker and set pressure cooking time for zero minutes (or lowest time setting available).
After cooking time completes, hit cancel. Do not allow cooker to “keep warm.” Allow pressure to drop on its own one minute and then vent.
Open cooker, remove meat to a plate, and pour cooking liquid into a heavy duty blender (I use a Vitamix) to purée.* Return liquid to pot, and hit sauté.
While liquid reduces, allow tenderloin to rest. Tent with foil to keep warm. After the cooking liquid boils down to desired thickness, turn off cooker and add butter. Salt and pepper sauce to taste. Slice the tenderloin and serve drizzled with the sauce.
Browned tenderloins cook quickly.
Whisk in butter right before serving.
Serve with sauce and side dishes of your choice.
*For a chunkier sauce, mash the cooked apple, fennel, and onion mixture with a potato masher.