Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts

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I recently received the newest Instant Pot model, the Ultra, thanks to the kind people at Instant Pot HQ. Note that I did not receive it in exchange for a review or any other coverage, I just thought I’d share my thoughts about the Ultra for those that are considering upgrading or are comparing versus an older model. So here we go!

Steam release — There are two major upgrades to the Ultra, and one of them is the steam release. Instead of a single steam valve that you turn to seal or release, the Ultra has a separate button. This is great for two reasons:

  1. You don’t have to touch where the steam is releasing, making it a little safer and less likely to scald
  2. It automatically resets to sealing when you open the lid. Even though I’ve used the IP a bazillion times, I still forget to close the valve sometimes on the old model. The Ultra makes this impossible by closing the vent automatically.

Note that when you press down the button for a quick release, it takes longer to release the pressure than older models. You can force it to release steam quicker by pressure down the button harder, but then you’ll have to stand there the whole time pressing the button.

Cooking Options — The Ultra has even more automated cooking settings, which is all well and good, but I rarely use any of them other than Pressure, Sauté, and Yogurt. But! With the Ultra, you can make some over-arching settings to the whole machine, as well as on a per-use basis. I’m a big fan of these options:

  1. You can turn the sound off. You may not want to turn the sound off, but with the amount of recipes I make in my IP and the amount of beeps it makes (especially the Ultra), sometimes I just want some peace and quiet. Note that it won’t beep at all, even when food is done cooking, so this is not for everyone/all the time.
  2. You can disable the Keep Warm function. I pretty much never use this function and the vast majority of the time I want it turned off, so as to not inhibit the release of pressure or scald delicate items on the bottom of the pot. Unfortunately you can’t turn off the function universally, but you can turn it off beforehand each time you cook something.

Backlit Display and Knob — The most obvious differences are the backlit display (which was already available on the Duo Plus) and a knob that you turn and press to make all selections. The knob takes a little getting used to, but for no specific reason I like it. I think with all of the options on this version of the IP, you need a knob instead of a million buttons to push.

Another Thing I’ve Noticed — In my experience thus far, pressure takes a lot longer to release with the Ultra than the older models. Just keep this in mind when budgeting time for a recipe. I honestly sometimes end up slowly releasing the pressure when I just can’t wait any longer.

All-in-all, the older models still work great, and it’s up to you if the jump in price is worth it. As someone who uses an Instant Pot all the time to test recipes, I’ve very much appreciated the revised steam release and the extra adjustables. But I also still use my old IP all the time. Long live pressure cooking, regardless of what cooker you choose!

Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but it’s for good reason, I swear! I am (drum roll please) writing a new cookbook! It’s another electric pressure cooker cookbook, but with more fun, interesting recipes for those ready to take the next step in their pressure cooker relationship. It’ll have lots of fun flavors and dishes and will incorporate the pressure cooker as part of your functioning, 21st century kitchen.

So in the meanwhile I’ll try to put up a blog post or two, but you’ll be hearing much more from me after the summer. It’s summer anyway, you should be sitting by a pool and reading a thriller-romance, not reading my dumb blog.

Keep an eye out for the cookbook via St. Martin’s Press, due out next spring!

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Pressure Cooker Brown Rice Risotto

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One of the most popular dishes to make in a pressure cooker is risotto. Instead of standing over a hot pot and stirring stirring stirring, the rice cooks away all on its own and emerges creamy and flavorful. It’s wonderful.

There are a couple of risotto recipes in my cookbook, but the variations are endless. I recently made a version using brown rice! It was super tasty and healthier than the typical version. You’ll just need a few more minutes of cooking time.

Note that this recipe is written for an electric pressure cooker, but will work with a stove top version as well.

Brown Rice Risotto
Serves 2-3 (you can easily double this recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine or 3 tablespoons dry vermouth
1 cup short-grain brown rice
2 cups good-quality chicken or vegetable stock
Salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Mix-ins (see below)

Heat your pressure cooker using the Sauté function. Once hot, add the oil followed by the onion. Sauté for 3 minutes or until the onions are becoming translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add white wine or vermouth and cook, scraping the bottom, until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Turn off the Sauté function and add the rice, stock, and a healthy pinch of salt. Secure the lid and cook for 25 minutes at high pressure and use a natural release.

While the rice is cooking, prepare your mix-ins. I have some ideas for you below.

Once the pressure has been released, remove the lid and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir vigorously for a few minutes until the rice is creamy. Add your mix-ins and stir. Serve topped with a little more Parmesan and perhaps a chopped fresh herb.

Mix-ins (mix and match!)

  • 1-2 links of high-quality sausage, cooked through and broken up or sliced
  • Sautéd chopped fresh spinach
  • Sautéd mushrooms with thyme
  • Roasted butternut squash and fresh sage
  • Roasted or sautéd asparagus and lemon
  • Broiled shrimp
  • Fresh, lightly cooked green peas
Pressure Cooker Brown Rice Risotto

Cookbook Update

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In case you missed it, I wrote a cookbook. It was released in April, and has been chugging along quite well. Things really picked up last week when Amazon Prime Day rolled around and they ran an impossible-to-resist deal on the Instant Pot. I guess lots of people buying their new cooker needed a cookbook to go with it, because my book rocketed to the #2 position in all of Amazon books! Pretty amazing and totally weird. Only the new Harry Potter book could best my ‘lil cookbook.

Anyway, if you’re a pressure cooker lover like me or are just getting into it/thinking about getting into it, then try out my book. It’s under $10 with over 100 recipes and it’s getting pretty good reviews. And just to further tempt you, below is a sample recipe from the book. Enjoy!

Eggs in Purgatory With Eggplant
from The Instant Pot© Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals
Serves 2 to 4

1 small eggplant, mostly peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with most of the liquid drained out
1 tablespoon harissa or 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 fresh eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 to 6 thick slices good-quality rustic bread, for serving
hot sauce, for serving (optional)

  1. Toss the eggplant with the salt and spread out onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Let sit 15 to 30 minutes. Take more paper towels and press out any moisture, wiping away some of the salt as you go.
  2. Preheat the Instant Pot by selection Saute.
  3. Once hot, add the oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot, for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, harissa or paprika, and red pepper flakes, and season with black pepper. Stir. Select Cancel and secure the lid.
  5. Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.
  6. Use a quick release. Remove the lid, stir, and select Saute. Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl, and lower each one onto the top of the bubbling sauce.
  7. Cook, loosely covered, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 4 to 6 minutes.
  8. Top with parsley and serve with bread and hot sauce (if using).
Cookbook Update

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Stock

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Stock (AKA broth) is a magical thing. It’s really just flavored water made from parts that you’d probably be throwing out anyway, but it adds untold levels of savory flavor that cannot be denied. You can’t make a good soup without it, and it takes grains and sauces to the next level. Sure, you can buy the boxed or canned stuff at the store. You know it’s not as good, though, and making stock is real easy. Especially if you own a pressure cooker.

Stock is something I use my electric pressure cooker for over and over again. It requires no real prep or measuring, you don’t need to babysit it or even check on it, and it’s done in an hour. Magic. Below is my basic recipe for making vegetable stock. If you’re making chicken stock, just decrease the veggies a bit and add some bones/leftover meat. You can find the full recipe and many more in my Instant Pot cookbook.

Hot tips: After making a meal, I take my veggie scraps—the ends of carrots and zucchini, the tough stalks of kale and collards, the various tail ends of onions and greens from scallions—and throw them in a large zip-top bag I keep in my freezer labeled “soup stock.” When I have enough in there I simply add some fresh herbs and a bay leaf and make stock before starting the process over. A+ highly recommend.

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Electric Pressure Cooker Veggie Stock

onions (white, yellow, red, green, shallots, or any combo thereof)
celery
carrots
assorted veggies (mushrooms, bell pepper, zucchini, sweet potato, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, corn, turnips, green beans, etc!)
crushed garlic (optional)
assorted fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, sage)
1-2 bay leaves
salt (optional)

Add all of your ingredients to the inner pot of your electric pressure cooker. Add enough water so that it is level with the topmost veggies. This will be anywhere from 5 to 12 cups of water, depending on how many veggies you added to your pot. I usually end up using about 8 cups. Do not overfill your cooker. Seal the top and cook at high pressure for one hour. Let the pressure come down naturally, and strain your stock into a bowl. Store in airtight containers. Stock will keep for 5 days in the fridge, or at least 2 months in the freezer.

Pressure Cooker Vegetable Stock

It’s Cookbook Time!

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The time has come! I wrote a cookbook late last year and today it hits shelves. Digital shelves, anyway—you can find The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals on Amazon right now in paperback and Kindle form. If you have an electric pressure cooker or are thinking of getting one, why not grab one? It’s got over 100 easy-to-follow original recipes. It makes a great gift, too. 🙂

It’s Cookbook Time!

Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot

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It’s no real secret that the Instant Pot 7-in-1 has a Yogurt setting, but how many IP owners actually use this setting? I’ve finally started using my IP to make yogurt, and it’s saved me a lot of guesswork and really streamlined the yogurt-making process. Even though there are instructions available in the manual, I found it easier to refer to other users’ advice before beginning. So, in an effort to pay it forward, here’s my guide for making homemade yogurt in an Instant Pot!

First off, why make your own yogurt? It’s much cheaper, you can make it to fit your taste and texture preferences, and it’s easy, hands-off work (especially with an IP). Did I mention how much cheaper it is? Now let’s get started.

You’ll need:

  • Your Instant Pot 7-in-1
  • The included steamer rack
  • Jars with lids
  • Milk
  • Plain yogurt
  • Skim milk powder (optional)

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First, scald the milk:

  1. Grab one to four jars (depending on how much yogurt you want to make) that will fit inside your Instant Pot sitting on the steamer rack. Fill each jar about 3/4 of the way or less with the milk of your choice. The fattier the milk, the thicker and creamier the yogurt—but even skim milk will work.
  2. (Optional) Add up to 1 teaspoon of skim milk powder per jar for a thicker yogurt and stir.
  3. Add 1 cup of water to the IP and top with steamer rack. Add the jars (without the lids) and close the lid. Make sure the valve is in the Sealing position.
  4. Select Steam and adjust the time to 1 minute. Once the timer goes off and the IP is done steaming, select Cancel and let the pressure release naturally. This will take about 15 minutes.
  5. Open the IP and remove the jars. Dump out the water and replace the steamer rack. Let the milk sit, uncovered, until it comes down to 115 degrees—this will take about an hour. Use a thermometer to keep track of the temperature.

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Yogurt time:

  1. Once the milk is 115 degrees or slightly less, add a heaping spoonful of plain yogurt to each jar and stir. Any kind of yogurt will do as long as it has active cultures.
  2. Add the jars back to the IP and close the lid. Select Yogurt and let it do its thing for a whole eight hours. That’s right. Walk away for eight whole hours.
  3. Once the Yogurt cycle is complete, carefully pour off any accumulated whey (if desired) and screw on the tops. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Tips:

  • You can make yogurt directly in the IP, but I prefer the convenience and cleanliness of making yogurt directly in jars.
  • Be sure to start early so that your yogurt has time to complete its 8-hour cycle. You can leave it longer but it will become tarter the longer it sits. If you time it right you can make yogurt overnight!
  • If you like your yogurt really thick and creamy (Greek-style), you can strain your homemade yogurt with cheesecloth for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

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My cookbook is now available for pre-order on Amazon! The Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals

Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot