By Ann Cipperly
The Lee County Extension Service in Opelika recently held the Pressure Perfect Meal Preparation Workshop presented by Dani Reams, the regional extension agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension, with assistance from Janet Johnson. Vicky Yarbrough, the administrative associate II at the Lee County office, also assisted with the program. The Instant Pot and other brands of electric pressure cookers have become popular for serving quick and easy meals.
Dani is responsible for primary coverage of Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Randolph, Talladega and Tallapoosa Counties. The workshop was developed in response to multiple inquiries regarding the use of electric pressure cookers.
While the program was originally developed with a grant from the Talladega County Volunteer Program, Dani is now offering it in other counties due to the popularity of the class.
“These appliances have been rapidly gaining popularity,” says Dani. “They have potential to benefit our quality of life through cost savings and for quicker production of meals with superior nutritional value compared to other options.”
The program included information on the benefits, use and maintenance of electric pressure cookers. Participants were placed in groups to prepare a dish using an appliance. Electric pressure cookers used included Chefman, Instant Pot, Cosori and Crock Pot brand.
Vicky Yarbrough has worked at the Lee County Extension office since 2015. She previously worked with Project Uplift at Auburn University for four years. At the extension office, she is involved with summer programs for 4-H.
Vicky, who is from Woodland, moved to Opelika to be near her son, Travis Yarbrough, and his family. Travis, who teaches at Auburn Early Ed and coaches junior high baseball team and ninth grade football, and his wife, Candace, have a daughter, Hanley Grace, 3, and are expecting a son in April.
When getting one of the new electric pressure cookers, Vicky suggests reading all the instructions before using. There are different brands, and each one is a little different. While she has been using a pressure cooker, she learned a lot from the class that Dani taught.
While the extension conducts classes, this was the first class they offered on electric pressure cookers. Twenty people attended the class, and they enjoyed sampling the food after it was cooked.
The Extension Service may offer another class. For other programs, check their Facebook page, Lee County Extension Service, or call the office at 334.749.3353 for further information.
Following are tips from Dani on using electric pressure cookers.
Use a calibrated thermometer to ensure that the food reaches minimum internal cooking temperatures. The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat. It is a good idea to take temperatures in several locations. The thermometer should be properly cleaned and sanitized between uses.
It is important to properly clean the unit after each use. Don’t forget the condensation cup! Refer to the manufacturers guidelines for cleaning the units.
After appropriate cleaning, vinegar can be helpful in removing odors from the silicone ring. Some people prefer to have a silicone ring for savory dishes and another silicone ring for sweet dishes.
Inspect the lid carefully prior to each use. Ensure that the sealing ring is in good condition and that the steam release valve is not blocked.
When you look at a recipe for an electric pressure cooker, remember to factor in time for the pot to come up to pressure and time to depressurize if the recipe calls for natural venting. For food items that have a very short cook time (like green beans), this time can be more than the actual cook time.
Although some electric pressure cookers advertise a “delay start” feature, which can be set for up to 24 hours, this function should be set for no more than 1 to-2 hours. There are significant food safety risks associated with allowing food to sit at room temperature for a longer period.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation does not recommend utilizing electric pressure canners for USDA tested canning recipes. Those recipes have been developed for regular stove-top pressure canners. Differences in pressure, temperature and heat distribution mean that the recipes may not yield a safe product when used with an electric pressure cooker. This could result in serious, and potentially fatal, foodborne illness.
It is important to ensure that your hand/arm is not over the steam release valve when releasing pressure.
Check user’s manual to determine the minimum amount of liquid needed in each recipe.
Following are a sampling of recipes from the workshop and ones participants shared with the group.
Cipperly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1(15 oz.) can corn, drained
1(4 oz.) can diced green chiles
1(15 oz.) can enchilada sauce (mild, medium or hot- whatever you like)
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans
4 oz. cream cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper
Optional toppings: sour cream, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado, grated cheddar, tortilla or corn chips
Add chicken broth, black beans, corn, green chiles, enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes, cumin and chicken into your Instant Pot. Give it a quick stir.
Cover your Instant Pot and secure the lid. Press the manual or pressure cook button and Set the timer to 10 minutes. Make sure valve is set to “sealing.” When the timer beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes end then move the valve to “venting.” Remove the lid.
Take out the chicken and shred it on a cutting board. Add it back into the Instant Pot.
Stir in the can of refried beans until the soup is creamy and smooth. If you are adding the cream cheese, stir it in at this point. You can use the sauté setting on your Instant Pot to help melt the cream cheese quicker.
Salt and pepper the soup to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with desired toppings.
Pressure Cooker Brown Rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 cup water
Place 1 standard glass measuring cup of brown rice and water into the pressure cooker. Close lid and pressure cook at high pressure manual/pressure cook button for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow a 5 minutes rest time and then do a quick release by turning the venting knob to the venting position. Open the lid carefully.
Serve: Fluff rice with a fork. If the rice is a bit wet, let it rest a bit for the moisture to escape before serving.
Instant Pot Carrots
1 lb. baby carrots
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Pressure Cook Carrots: Pour 1 cup cold water, then place a stainless steel steamer basket in Instant Pot. Add 1 lb. carrots in steamer basket. Pressure Cook at high pressure for 2 minutes, then quick release.
Make Buttery Sweet Carrots:
Set aside the pressure cooked carrots. Discard the water in inner pot. Towel dry inner pot, then heat up the Instant Pot using the “sauté” button. Once the indicator says HOT, add in 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter. Add in the cooked carrots and 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and ½ tsp. salt. Sauté for roughly 2 minutes until the sugar melts and coat the carrots.
Instant Pot Spaghetti
An easy 10-minute Instant Pot spaghetti recipe.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup diced onions
1 tsp. garlic
1 lb. ground beef or spicy sausage
24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce of choice
2 cups water or beef broth (pour into empty spaghetti sauce jar and shape to get remainder of sauce)
8 oz. spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds
1 tsp. salt or to taste
Put Instant Pot on sauté. Add olive oil, onions and garlic; cook until onions are softened.
Add ground beef and cook until pink is gone; drain oil, if desired.
Add spaghetti sauce and water. Sprinkle broken noodles o they don’t lump together and push noodles into the liquid until they are covered. Do not stir.
Secure lid, close. Close steam valve and set for 10 minutes. If you want al dente noodles, set for 8-9 minutes.
Quick release when it beeps, stir and serve.
Note: Do not double this recipe as it will not turn out properly.
Pressure Cooker Green Beans with Bacon
You can also use frozen green beans for this recipe. You do not need to defrost the beans, nor do you need to increase the cooking time.
1 cup onion, diced
5 slices bacon, diced
6 cups green beans, cut in half
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
You could either put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker in the order listed (see following note), or you could follow the steps below.
Turn your Instant Pot or pressure cooker on sauté and follow the steps in this order.
Cut up the bacon and put it in the hot pressure cooker.
Start dicing the onion and put it in as you cut it.
Stir the bacon and onions and start cutting up the green beans.
Add the beans, water, salt and pepper to the pot.
Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes and release all pressure immediately.
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed before serving.
I don’t usually sauté the bacon. I put in all the ingredients, and just set the pot for 4 minutes.
Think of this as a faster version of boiled pork for seasoning.
These beans are falling apart tender, and full of flavor. If you like them crunchier, cook for 2 minutes under pressure. If you like them even softer, allow the pressure cooker to release pressure naturally for 10 minutes, and then release any remaining pressure–or just let it release pressure naturally all the way for even more well-cooked green beans.
You can also cut up small pieces of ham instead of bacon.
Instant Pot Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes:
If you want to make Instant Pot Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes, use baby potatoes.
Cut the potatoes into halves. Increase water to 1/2 cup. Use ham instead of bacon. Other than that, cook as directed.
Five Ingredient Instant Pot Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 pkg. (20 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pkg. (about 4 cups) fresh broccoli florets
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Spray 6-quart Instant Pot insert with cooking spray. Mix broth, rice, salt and pepper in insert.
Stir in chicken and broccoli. Secure lid; set pressure valve to “sealing.” Select “manual;” cook on high pressure 10 minutes.
Select “cancel.” Set pressure value to venting to quick-release pressure.
Stir in cheese. Broccoli will break down when stirring.
Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker
4 lbs. pork shoulder (pork butt) roast, cut into two pieces
1 to 2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. hickory liquid smoke
2 tsp. coarse kosher salt or coarse Hawaiian salt (see following note)
Cooked rice, for serving
Select “sauté” to preheat the pot. When hot, add the oil and brown each half of the roast separately. Brown each half of the pork roast on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter when browned.
Turn the pressure cooker off, and add water and liquid smoke to the cooking pot. Stir to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the browned pork and any accumulated juices. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the pork roasts.
Lock the lid in place. Select high pressure and 90 minutes cook time.
When the timer sounds, use natural pressure release (approximately 20 minutes). When the valve drops, carefully remove lid.
Remove the meat from the pressure cooker and shred with two forks. (Discard excess fat as you shred). If desired, use a fat separator to remove fat from the juices. Add some of the juices from the pressure cooker to moisten the meat. Place remaining juices in a serving dish to ladle on top of rice, if desired.
If you don’t have coarse salt on hand, be sure to reduce the amount of table salt you add.
Instant Pot Cauliflower Potato Soup
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 small red potatoes, cut into chunks
4 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 slices bacon , chopped
1 medium onion , diced
1 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
2 stalks green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Crisp Bacon: Place chopped bacon in your Instant Pot, then turn heat to medium (press “sauté” button). Stir occasionally, then allow the bacon bits to crisp (-4 mins). Remove bacon bits from Instant Pot, then place them on a paper towel to absorb the excess fat.
Sauté onions, garlic and green onions in bacon fat for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. Add in garlic and half of the green onions. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until fragrant.
Deglaze: Pour 1/3 cup unsalted chicken stock. Scrub all the brown bits off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon (keep the brown bits as they are very flavorful).
Pressure Cook Cauliflower Potato Soup: Add 2 bay leaves, cauliflower, and 2 red potatoes in Instant Pot. Pour the remaining chicken stock in Instant Pot.
Close the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 3 minutes, then 10 minutes natural release. Open the lid carefully.
Remove bay leaves.
Blend cauliflower soup into desired consistency with an immersion hand blender. Add 1 cup heavy cream. Taste the soup and season with fish sauce, if using, and kosher salt.
Serve: Garnish with green onions, crispy bacon bits., and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy immediately.
Thinner Consistency: If you like a thinner soup consistency, add hot homemade unsalted chicken stock to adjust the thickness of the soup.
Smaller Cauliflower Florets: break the larger pieces into smaller florets, so it’ll be easier to blend.
Crispy Bacon: It’s important to place the bacon in the cold pot before turning on the heat.