Instant Pot Follow-Up

I am a big fan or ratios or guidelines as opposed to strict recipes. Recently, I posted the basic recipe for Chicken Biryani (one of my favorites for the IP). Using that basic formula, one could theoretically make a number of similar dishes i.e. Jambalaya, Arroz con Pollo, Jollof rice, Fideos Rossejat Rapida etc…

The basic formula:

Spices + 1 1/2 cup “aromatics” + 1 lb protein + fresh herbs + 1 cup rice + 1 cup liquid

I used this basic “formula” for Jambalaya last night and it worked like a charm. I started by using the medium sauté function on the IP rendered ~ 8 oz diced smoked sausage (didn’t have an andouille on-hand) and once nicely colored added ~ 1 lb medium dice chicken thighs. While this was cooking I chopped 1 medium onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 2 stalks celery (The Trinity), and 4 garlic cloves (The Pope). Once lightly brown, I moved the protein to a separate bowl and added my vegetables to the IP and cooked until softened (always add garlic at very end). Once the vegetables were soft, I turned off the IP and added the protein back to the vegetables, mixed well, and pressed into an even layer. I then added a can of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes, again pressing into an even layer, followed by a whole mess of diced scallions and a few bay leaves. I followed that with an even layer of rice (1 cup). Finally, I added the liquid (water or chicken stock would work fine) which was clam juice (1 cup). I sealed the IP and set for 5 min of cooking under high pressure.

*along the way, I of course seasoned everything very well with “Cajun Spices” – salt, paprika, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne.

Then, I went for a walk with the family…when I returned about 30 minutes later the IP was just losing it’s pressure and we were about ready to roll. I opened the IP and tossed in a handful of shrimp on the top and sealed her back up to let the steam cook the shrimp while I made a quick wedge salad and toasted a baguette.

Entire deal consisted of maybe 15 minutes hands-on time. Was a great success. With the IP, I think the layering as described is important. I think that having the vegetables on the bottom allows them to release enough liquid to avoid the dreaded “burn” warning.

Next time I will try a Spanish style dish – maybe use some chorizo, chicken, and a mixture of fideos and rice.

The constant quest for perfect: pizza

Basic recipe for pizza dough, we’re using weight based measurements so get a scale.

100% flour (bread flour or AP)

60-67% water

couple of pinches of salt

yeast

That’s it. The experimentation comes with your water percentage. 67% water is awesome but it’s a little hard to deal with. 60% much easier but will result in a much firmer bread. Average weight of pizza dough balls for a medium size pie is 300-350g so plan accordingly. 1000g of flour will make about 6 pizzas.

Tips:

  1. Use something to help you get the pizza from peel to the oven. This has long been the most frustrating part of making pizzas and you can easily lose them here. Grill mats work well, you can cut them if you like. Parchment paper and silpats for oven baking work really well, too.
  2. Age your dough for at least 24 hours, the longer you let it sit in the refrigerator, the better it will taste. You can make it same day, but it won’t be quite as good. Plan.
  3. Always make more dough than you need. Give yourself margin for error. Flour is cheap.
  4. Knead your dough 10 minutes in a stand mixer, do most of it with only half the flour in there.
  5. Your hydration level will affect how the dough behaves in the stand mixer. If it’s <65% it may not stick at all to the bowl. If it’s 67% it will stick a little bit. Experience will teach you.
  6. The higher the heat, the better. 850F in a brick oven is ideal for Naples style pizza, but it’s hard to achieve. 550 convection works great too.
  7. Less is more when it comes to toppings.

Where IP Shines

The Best 30 Bucks You’ll Spend

Indian food. Despite having a wealth of Indians, Augusta has a dearth of good, easily accessible Indian restaurants. Enter the InstantPot. Imagine butter chicken, a smorgasbord of dahls, and biryani! Chicken biryani in the IP is absolutely amazing and Shanti’s spices are essential to taking the dish from good to amazing. Often times, Indian dishes call for Garam Masala (an unknown mix of spices) but armed with a variety from Shanti’s magic box…you get the idea.

IP Chicken Biryani

Fat: 2T butter

Spices: 1/2 t cumin seed; 1 cinnamon stick; 4 cloves; 5 peppercorns; 5 green cardomom pods

Aromatics: small, sliced onion; 1T minced ginger; 4 crushed garlic cloves; 2 diced jalepeno

Protein: 1 lb, bite sized chunks chicken thighs

Herbs: 1/2 cup each chopped cilantro and mint

Other: 1 cup basmati, 1 cup water, salt

Melt butter using sauté function on IP and bloom spices until sizzling.

Add onion and cook until browning on edges.

Add aromatics and sauté until fragrant and soft. Push veggies aside and add chicken. Cook until lightly colored.

Combine chicken and veggies and spread to an even layer. Then layer on herbs. Then layer on rice. Then sprinkle salt. Finally add water taking care not to mix or stir.

Lock the IP, cook x 5 minutes, release pressure naturally.

Serve with Naan and some somosa quesadillas.

Serves 4-6 depending on sides.

Instant bliss

It really is kind of hard for me to believe that we are eight years removed from where this thing last fizzled out. Technology has definitely changed for the better. While we were using pressure cookers, the induction burner technology took off. The problem with the old pressure cookers is that they were loud and required you to do your own research on timing. Enter the Instant Pot.

Now I know a lot of previously illicit substances have been legalized over the last few years, so my apologies if you were looking for a different type of post. We’ve been using the instant pot since Christmas, it’s really interesting how it combines induction burner technology with a filtered steam generation system that is virtually silent. Add a bunch of presets and other functionality like steaming, slow cooker, sous vide even, and you get a versatile tool that comes in different sizes.

Instant Pot white rice cooled on sheet pan

I am still tinkering with the cooking times for certain grains. As long as you get your water to grain ratios correct, it’s hard to get it too wrong.

One success is throwing an entire flat of chicken breasts with some salsa or hot sauce and in 25-30 minutes you have shredded chicken for tacos.  Presear if you want but you don’t have to.

Any success stories or recipes to share out there?

The Phoenix

Like the wondrous creature of mythology, rising from ashes, so shall it be with this website/blog. What’s ironic is that it took a national quarantine to get us to slow down enough to start cooking again. Home improvement project injuries notwithstanding, and the current rash of burn injuries that we’re seeing just remind us that we still have to be careful.

Obviously our dress code at the grocery store has changed just a little bit. What probably would’ve gotten me arrested two weeks ago is currently not looked on with any level incredulity.

Maybe it’s funny because the Amish are probably the least affected by this thing than anyone. We’re all having to learn how to do things all over again like sewing, improvising all manner of personal protective equipment, cutting hair, reading books, binging on series, teaching our kids at home.

Please share any experiences you have in the comments, we’re all hunkering this thing down, just like the Big Dawg always does.

Worn

Here’s an old post about this grill back when it was purchased almost 12 years ago.

https://bigdawgeats.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/i-finally-did-it-the-wait-is-over/

We have learned quite a bit over the years, it sure isn’t the prettiest thing ever saw but it still gets the job done. It’s my Frankengrill: I’ve replaced the firebox three or four times, the thermometer broke and died and I replaced it with a green egg version, I’ve had to learn how to adjust the set screws in the back which is a real pain, it’s cracked but still cooking. I went from no gaskets to gaskets, back to no gaskets. Doesn’t really make that big of a difference after all. Turns out that fire is fire after all.

Cold Smoke

Anyone have any ideas on how to turn the kamado into a cold smoker? There a bunch of potential applications, particularly cheese, peppers, ketchup, salt, not to mention tons of other things.
There are a couple of principles to keep in mind.

1. Wood typically contains a bunch of water. Until you exceed that boiling temp, the wood isn’t going to ignite. 212F/100C in case you forgot.
2. Wood ignites at the 500F range. This is obviously much higher than the optimal smoking temperature, but consider that you’re only following the dome temperature, not the fire temperature. It’s a gradient, and we typically just follow the dome temp at the top of the cooker.
3. I’ve heard of using a coffee can (who has those anyway? hipster coffee comes in bags, man…) to keep the fire small, thus the temp down.
4. Would a small crockpot hit the temperatures necessary to fire the wood? Sounds like an experiment that needs to happen.
5. The temperature at the cooking grid level has to be <100F.

Let's hear your ideas.