As much as I adore Thanksgiving food, I’m sometimes just as happy to see the last of it slide into the freezer–hopefully not into the garbage, though. If I have cranberry sauce, which keeps quite a long time in the refrigerator, I might make a pork loin roast (old recipe/post, but good) this week to go along side or save it in the freezer to top a cheesecake at Christmas or New Year’s. (Cheesecake freezes perfect, too, but don’t make the cake, top it, and freeze it. Freeze and thaw the cake and cranberry sauce separately, and top just a couple of hours before serving.)
above–our really simple Thanksgiving dinner cooked with friends Sue, Audie, Debbie, and Paul in St. Paul. Each of us made a dish or so and no one was overworked or stressed.
Within a few days, I’m craving something totally different–lasagna, stir fry, chili, or pasta. Barely making it home at midnight in the middle of 60-80 mph winds (typical Colorado Springs stuff), we went out for brunch the next day and ate stew from the freezer Sunday night. Monday, though, it was time to cook. A walk through the pantry and freezer brought up chicken thighs and pasta and since I always have canned tomatoes, onions, and celery on hand, it seemed the right time for an Instant Pot (IP) pasta dish–something I had not yet attempted, but kept thinking I’d try.
above two pics from our trip: Dave, my husband, drinking a flight at our favorite St. Paul bar, The Groveland Tap, and Sue’s goldendoodle Newman, who I nearly brought home in my suitcase.
People often ask me about the IP or multicooker (scroll down for links if you’re new to IP) and whether or not they should invest in it. Since it’s so darned cheap these days, it’s really not about the cash, but more about would you use it and do you have the storage space. (It doesn’t take the place of a slow cooker for me, though maybe it’s the model I have. Newer, pricier models seem to have better slow cooker functions.) As I’m seldom in a hurry–and that’s the theme of an electric pressure cooker–I didn’t think it would be my thing. But I do like it because it is fast, after all, it’s fun (yes), and even if it’s not so quick for some things, the meal is often cooked all in one pot, which is perfect for simplicity of preparation and clean up. Most parts of the IP are dishwasher safe, save the base, so that stainless steel cooking pot is thrown right into the bottom rack. Like that, right? If you buy it and don’t like it –give it several tries–pass it on to someone else. Not much lost.
ABOUT THE PASTA FOR THE DISH: I used King Sooner’s (Kroger) PRIVATE SELECTION brand trotolle pasta mainly because it was in the pantry, but any tubular sort of pasta–penne, ziti (served at weddings and therefore named “bride” or “girlfriend” in Italian), rigatoni, cavatappi, cavatelli, and so on would work, I think. You might have a bit of adjustment in the cooking or resting time depending on the size and shape of your pasta. For instance, if your pasta is somewhat larger or heavier and not done, you can add the cover to the IP for a few minutes after releasing pressure (and turning pot off) as the residual heat in cooker will finish cooking the dish. Likewise, a considerably smaller pasta might benefit from a minute less pressure cooking or a faster pressure release and resting time. Some IP and Multicooker cookbooks will call for several minutes of pressure cooking pasta and then 20 or more minutes slow cooking afterward, which–to me–seems to negate the beauty of IP cooking. That said, I’ve cooked mostly soup in the IP and look forward to trying another new pasta recipe soon. I’ll keep you posted! ( above photo courtesy King Soopers)
While IP newbies will want to (and maybe should) stick exactly to recipes, as you go on cooking in your electric pressure cooker, you’ll find your way to making adjustments, and trying things out all on your own just as you do on your range. If you’d like to check out more pasta recipes, click on the links just below.
Or you could just try this:
INSTANT POT: CHICKEN PARMESAN PASTA
For ease of preparation, toss all of the fresh vegetables (onion – garlic) into the food processor and chop together there. Don’t skip the garnishes, they make the dish.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 slices of bacon, diced (can sub 2 tablespoons olive oil for bacon)
- 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced into 1-inch pieces (approx. 1 1/2 pounds)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1/2 small red or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Generous pinch each: crushed red pepper and granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons each: dry basil and oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, rubbed between your fingers
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups water or more as needed
- 1 pound trotolle, ziti, penne, or similar pasta
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley (for garnish–added after cooking)
- Grated zest of one lemon (for garnish–added after cooking)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano–about a 2-ounce piece, grated(for garnish–added after cooking)
- Select SAUTÉ function and adjust to medium or normal. Add oil, spread around, and let heat for a minute before adding diced bacon. Cook bacon, stirring often, until browned but not crisp–2-3 minutes. Stir in diced chicken thighs, sprinkle to season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook and stir until lightly brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes.
- Add fresh vegetables to the pot: onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Season with 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, the pinches of crushed red pepper and sugar, and the dry herbs. Cook another 5 minutes, stirring, or until vegetables are softening. Pour in wine; stir and cook down for a minute or two. Pour in tomatoes. Drop in the pasta, add 2 cups water or a little more, as needed, so that everything is just covered, and stir again. Select CANCEL/KEEP WARM function to stop the sauté feature and turn the pot off.
- Secure lid/lock in place. Press MANUAL button to pressure cook on high. Set timer for 5 minutes.
- When pressure cooking is done, allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes and then release manually. Press CANCEL/KEEP WARM to turn pot off. Stir, taste, and adjust seasonings. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle with minced parsley, lemon zest and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Grind a little black pepper over all.
COOK’S NOTE: Even with the pot turned OFF, the pasta will continue to cook and soften in the pot if you haven’t served all of it. To prevent that, remove everything you’re not immediately serving to a large serving or storage bowl and stir periodically to help cool evenly.
WINE: Montepulciano or an inexpensive Chianti. Something terribly Tuscany, please.
DESSERT: Probably skipping that this week, but if you’re up for it, why not a little lemon sorbet with a crispy sort of butter cookie?
New to electric pressure or multi-cooker cooking?
READ UP: Read your manual carefully and check out the basics in the links below or on the website for your appliance. I found using a youtube video on getting started was quite useful. (I no longer remember which one I used–sorry.)
EQUIPMENT: I use a 6-quart INSTANT POT —Instant Pot LUX60 V3 6 Qt 6-in-1 Muti-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer– I bought over two years ago and my recipe reflects my particular appliance. Do follow the directions for your own electric pressure or multi cooker.
Basic electric pressure cooker info:
Happy extra week in November before the Christmas rush begins–enjoy the break,