Perhaps like me you’ve been mystified by the Instant Pot®. I’ve owned one for several years, purchased during one of the yearly online flash sales for a price far less than that of a stovetop pot. But mostly it sits in its box under a desk near my kitchen.
I’ve heard about all the many things I could do with this pot, but my first foray with garbanzo beans for hummus left me with a lava flow of bean sludge over the kitchen counters and every crevice of the pot and a strong preference for my usual enameled cast iron.
I’ve since successfully made a few things, but it’s not been a go-to kitchen gadget for me, and I’ve not made beans again. JFE® contributor and Advisory Council member Paula Shoyer’s new Instant Pot® Kosher Cookbook might just have made me a convert.
Shoyer, author of four prior cookbooks and creator of the genius chocolate quinoa cake from her last book (excellent for Passover, by the way) has made the case for how useful the Instant Pot (IP®) can be, especially for kosher cooks.
In the introduction, Shoyer asserts reasons why anyone would want an IP®, but she also identifies its usefulness for the Jewish and the kosher cook. One main reason is that whatever our background, many of our dishes are soups or stews that cook for hours, “the sweet spot of the Instant Pot®.” Another reason is the usual lack of prime stovetop real estate when cooking for a large family gathering, especially for those with small kitchens.
Shoyer seems to have boundless energy, and when I speak to her on the phone one Friday morning, she has just jumped off a Zoom call and is busily prepping for Shabbat. She tells me she has three Zoom calls that Sunday as part of the roll out of her virtual “book tour.” Her excitement is contagious, and I find I want to learn more about a pot that I normally ignore. I had already been pulled in when I read her book—it really delivers in creative, delicious and healthy recipes using the pot—perhaps most compellingly by the excellent and very detailed instructions.
When I share how much I appreciate her directions (and mention my earlier bean mishap), Shoyer says that it was important to her that the instructions were not just in the front of the book, but built into each recipe, and that she “tried really hard to stand in the shoes of someone in the kitchen” when creating the recipes. She wants us to succeed and understand the techniques. I’ve tabbed several recipes to try, and first up is Chicken Salad with Japanese Ginger Dressing.
This is an easy weeknight win, especially since the chicken breasts can be put right in the pot frozen, onto the rack accessory and later shredded for the salad. Though I have stewed chicken in the IP® it had not occurred to me one could poach so easily. I thought I’d outsmarted myself by thawing the chicken and worried I’d messed up my scientific testing, but in her headnote, Shoyer reassures me that “you can make this fresh chicken as well, and the device will come to pressure more quickly.” This is what I’m talking about!
I note a gorgeous looking beet and quinoa salad and a beef tagine with prunes and peanuts inspired by her travels in Morocco that will make a colorful and festive Passover meal with the substitution of almonds for peanuts for those who do not eat kitniyot.
Other recipes jump out at me: Chicken Paprikash using cashew cream that both lightens this classic and makes it kosher, Orange Shakshuka using butternut squash and orange peppers, Thai Red Curry Fish and what Shoyer calls her “genius” recipe of this book, Spaghetti with Flanken Bolognese made all in the pot. Maybe I’ll even shore up my courage and try her hummus.
Shoyer’s website has details about her Zoom book tour, upcoming classes and a blog post with guidelines for converting family recipes to the IP®.