Thursday, December 1, 2016

Instant Pot (Mis)Adventures - Mexican Chili

I'm not one to jump on the kitchen gadget of the minute. I like the classics; my cast iron skillets, a hand potato masher, and a good set of knives go a long way. We love our pressure cooker and have convinced others to pick one up. It is our favorite way to cook brown rice. Then we were in Charlotte, NC over the recent American holiday and we offered up Parker for dinner food prep. My sister-in-law asked him to cook up some brown rice, but we knew he only was familiar cooking rice via pressure cooker. Stephanie found her grandmother's old pressure cooker and we started to cook. Unfortunately, we had to take Parker to the ER (not food related) and left before the rice was done. When we arrived back home, we were informed that the rice had burned in our absence. I don't know if the problem was with the pressure cooker (it was much older than ours) or the timing, but we blew it with that conversion from stove top rice to pressure cooker.

Then the next day I was pursuing Facebook and saw once again my friends going on and on about the Instant Pot. I never thought we needed one since we had our trusty pressure cooker, but the more I read what people do with theirs and the low price for the holiday was too much. I thought about how the Instant Pot would have saved rice the night before. I caved and ordered one.

 It arrived on our doorstep a few days after we returned home. The next morning as Rob was eating toast for breakfast, he suggested we try out the Instant Pot before he left for work. The instructions suggest taking it for a test spin with water prior to actually cooking food. We followed the directions, including filling the inside pot to "3", which seemed like an excess of water to Rob. After the Instant Pot turned off, I walked Rob and the dog to work and on the walk home I thought about what to do with the water. It was already warmed up so I decided to make my morning oats and maybe a cup of spicy hot chocolate. Then I would use the rest of the water to cook up some brown rice.

The ratio we use for pressure cooker brown rice is 1:1, but Rob and I discussed how the instruction booklet of the Instant Pot said 1:1.25 so 2 cups of rice would need 2 1/2 cups of water. When I opened up the Instant Pot I noticed the water level was now halfway between the 2 and the 3, from steam loss I guess. Perfect! I just threw two cups of brown rice in and followed the instructions. After 22 minutes of cooking in the Instant Pot, I turned it off to let it depressurize naturally. We ran an errand which included running by Rob's office. We told him how we were made rice in our new kitchen gadget and saved the water from the test. It was then that it hit us all...the markings in the inside pot were two different units of measure. One side was cups, which did not have a mark for "3", it just had even numbers. The other side was liters with a "3". The amount of water I returned home to was 2 1/2 liters not cups. Ugh. I had made brown rice soup.

We went on the rest of our errands and I eventually opened up the Instant Pot to see the damage. I drained off some of the excess water and noticed the rice was soft so it was technically cooked. I didn't want to waste food so I did what I always do when I need kitchen inspiration...I started to chop an onion.

I sautéed the onion, threw in some jalapeno peppers, Josie started throwing in yellow sprinkles and other spices like oregano, chili powder, and cayenne. I added some leftover tomato soup and some canned diced tomatoes. Then some vegetable broth, pinto beans, black pepper, and half of the watery rice. It ended up being quite tasty Mexican Chili and I served it with a crusty pain de Julia from our local downtown bakery. Everyone really enjoyed my misadventure and I can't wait to make something intentionally good with my new gadget.
Mexican Chili with Pain de Julia
I used the rest of the rice (two cups of brown rice in way too much water ends up being a lot of cooked rice) in a yellow curry soup with lots of veggies and potatoes cooked in the Instant Pot for 13 minutes. I do like how I can set up the Instant Pot and leave to pick up a kid from hip hop or gymnastics without worrying about the food or the house burning. I can definitely get used to that.

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