Monday, January 30, 2017

Chicken Pot Pie Stew: An Instant Pot Story

Takes me right back!
The diet that we enjoyed on my parents' farm growing up would be the envy of many foodies today. We grew most of our own vegetables, apples, pears, plums, and many herbs. We raised chickens, so our eggs were always warm-from-the-chicken-butt fresh. We raised beef cattle, grew the hay they lived on in the winter, and grazed them on our own land the rest of the year. Our water came from our own well, and our mushrooms grew among the fragrant piles of cow poo in our own pastures. My Mom was a very good cook, so you put all those things together and it's no wonder I have a passionate relationship with food.

Every once in a while though, Mom wouldn't feel up to cooking, so we would get something from the frozen food aisle. My favourite was Swanson's Chicken Pot Pies. I don't know what it was about them - probably the excessive salt - that made me love them so much.

Limiting my carbohydrates to keep my diabetes in remission means I probably wouldn't splurge on one of those pot pie crusts (36 freaking grams!!), but I have found a way to have something very much like the pot pie experience using the fabulous Instant Pot.

Chicken Instant Pot Pie Stew

  • 1 diced onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 16 ounce package of mixed frozen vegetables (Just do it once; you'll understand)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 tablespoons flour or corn starch
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Turn the Instant Pot to sauté and wait for the display to say “HOT”. Add the cold oil and onions, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute.

Hit the cancel button and add the stock and chicken thighs. Stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Put the lid on, set the vent control to “SEALING” and press the poultry button.

When the cycle is done, hit the cancel button and turn the vent control to do a quick release of pressure. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken pieces and set aside in a bowl.

Press the sauté button to bring the stock and onions back up to boiling.

Use two forks to shred the chicken.

Whisk the flour or cornstarch into the half and half.

When the stock in the pot is boiling, add the frozen vegetables and let them cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the dairy and starch mixture and stir until thickened.

Return the chicken to the pot to heat back up and serve!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Boxing Day Butter Chicken: An Instant Pot Story

It's even better the next day
Due to the Great Thanksgiving Flood of 2016, I was staying at the Marriott Residence Inn while my condo was being repaired over the holidays. I decided that I needed to do something to mark them, even though displaced. In 2016, Christmas fell on a Sunday, so the official observed Federal holiday was Monday the 26th. Being of British background and citizenship, I call that day Boxing Day and it is customarily when you visit with friends because you're sick of your family by that point.

I decided to have a Boxing Day Indian Buffet at my hotel room. I had never cooked Indian food before, but the Instant Pot seemed the ideal tool for it and indeed I found many, many Instant Pot recipes for my favourite dishes, including my absolute number one: Butter Chicken.

I looked through a dozen or so recipes to get a consensus idea of the spice profile and cardinal ingredients. This recipe is the result of my research and several increasingly fabulous experiments.

Boxing Day Butter Chicken

  • 1 diced onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • ~1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon toasted ground mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-4 hot peppers to taste
  • 6 roma tomatoes pureed
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 big pinch of fenugreek leaves

Before you start:

  1. Dice your onion
  2. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks
  3. Measure your garlic and ginger and put in a small bowl
  4. Measure your dry spices into a small bowl
  5. Toast your ground mustard seeds in a frying pan
  6. Puree tomatoes and peppers
Turn on the Instant Pot to the sauté setting. When the display reads "HOT" add the cold ghee. When it melts, add the onions. Sauté the onions until the edges start to turn brown. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to sauté for another minute or so.

Add the chicken and stir until all the pink is gone. Add the dry spices and stir until well combined.

Hit the cancel button, then add the tomato / pepper puree and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot.

Put the lid in place, making sure the vent control is set to "SEALING." Hit the poultry button.

When the cycle is done, use the vent control to do a quick pressure release. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken and set aside.

Either use an immersion blender to puree the sauce or remove it to blend separately. Never mind. Just go get an immersion blender. You deserve it.

Stir in the whipping cream and butter, and re-add the chicken and fenugreek leaves. Turn the Instant Pot on to the sauté setting to get everything back piping hot.

Serve with rice or naan, but not both! You don't need all those carbohydrates.