I must admit, when Instant Pot first appeared on the market, I was really skeptical about getting yet another appliance for my kitchen. I'm so glad I gave in and got it, I can’t imagine my life without it now.
When you're cooking with an instant pot, you can eliminate many in-between steps. You can brown the meat for stews and roasts and sauté vegetables right in your Instant Pot, no need to dirty extra pots and pans.
Here are a couple of my favorite recipes that are simple to prepare but could be fancy enough to serve to company.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
There are so many recipes you can adopt for the Instant Pot. One of them is mac and cheese. It's so easy to prepare and you don’t end up with a bunch of dirty dishes. You don’t even need to drain pasta, it’s a true one pot meal.
There are so many variations of this family favorite. If you have picky kids, use neutral cheese for a more familiar taste. If you want to be more adventurous, combine a couple of cheeses with a more distinct taste like Gouda and Swiss. You can use a combination of cheddar and mozzarella to make your mac and cheese really gooey and scrumptious. Sprinkle with some fresh-grated parmesan (please don’t use the canned stuff, you’ll thank me later) to make it more savory and sophisticated.
One way to turn up the flavor is to add a dash of yellow mustard flour. It won’t make it spicy, but will add a bit more dimension to the dish. If you like spicy, add a dash of cayenne or a tiny bit of hot sauce. You can elevate this humble dish even higher by adding some freshly-grated nutmeg for a more warm and earthy flavor.
You can get really fancy by adding some cooked lobster or crab chunks right at the end. Perfect dish for a date night at home.
It also makes great leftovers. When you reheat it, the smell of cheese and pasta will make all your lunch room mates jealous.
- 1 lb macaroni
- 4 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 oz. evaporated milk or 1/2 -1 Cup Milk
- 8 oz. of your favorite cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, Gouda, mozzarella or a combination of these)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- Parmesan cheese
- Cayenne or black pepper to taste
- Mustard flour
- Garlic salt or garlic powder
- A dash of hot sauce
Combine the macaroni, butter, salt, and water in the Instant Pot. If using, add mustard or mustard flour. Lock the lid and set your Instant Pot to Manual. Adjust the time to 4 minutes. After the timer beeps, do a quick release.
When you can unlock the Instant Pot, incorporate the cheese and milk until fully combined and the pasta is evenly coated. If pasta looks a bit dry, add a splash of milk. Add seasoning (cayenne pepper, black pepper, mustard etc.) and sprinkle with parmesan. Serve immediately and try not to eat the whole pot in one sitting.
Instant Pot Beef Ragu
This was initially a slow cooker recipe, and you can certainly use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker, but I'm impatient and I’ve never used it on the slow cooker setting.
If you can't find flat iron steak, use flank steak, but I prefer flat iron steak because it's more marbles than flank steak and has more delicate texture. I also prefer strained tomatoes over crushed tomatoes for a smoother texture.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed slightly
- 1 1/2 pounds flat iron or flank steak, cut against the grain into 3 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1 26 oz container of Pomi strained tomatoes
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon mustard flour
Set your Instant Pot to Sauté and heat the olive oil. Sauté garlic until golden and fragrant, about two minutes.
Season the beef with salt and pepper and layer in the Instant Pot. It might not all fit in one layer and that's ok, it'll still cook evenly. Pour the tomatoes over the beef and add carrots, bay leaves, thyme, turmeric, and mustard flour.
Set Instant Pot to Manual and set the timer to 50 minutes. When the timer beeps, do a manual release and let the beef cool slightly. Take the meat out of the sauce and finely shred it with two forks. Return the meat back to the Instant Pot, stir and taste for seasoning.
You can serve the beef ragu over pasta, egg noodles or, for a healthier version, over brown rice or quinoa. Garnish with finely chopped parsley or fresh chives. I love it with quinoa, it absorbs all the sauce beautifully and it's gluten free.
What are your fall favorites to make in the Instant Pot?