Life, Love, and Cooking

March 3, 2017 Cooking 0

I confess to being a kitchen gadget addict. By gadget, I don’t mean apple-peeler-corer-slicer, or quesadilla maker (I have one of those, it’s called a ‘pan’).
I mean, I own a slow-cooker.
A sous-vide.
An Instant-Pot.
And the great grand-daddy of them all, a pellet smoker.

I love using every single one of them. During the week, I’ll rarely do more than toss a chicken in the slow cooker and cook it for the next day.

On the weekends? I put 200lbs of brisket on the smoker, bag a roast and put it in the sous-vide for 20+ hours, and slice up mirepoix to make chicken stock.

Cooking is, for me, a creative expression much like writing. I create. I enjoy. I move on to something new.

My newest toy, the Instant-Pot, for those of you living under a rock, is an electric pressure cooker. Which is to say, it’s like the old-style pressure cookers but less likely to blow the safety valve through the sheetrock of your kitchen ceiling (yes, this is a real thing).

Here’s the instant-pot I’m using (click to view on amazon):

Now, there are a zillion sites with recipes for “instant-pot potatoes” and that sort of thing, so I’m going to tell you my favorite things, then share one:

  1. I can cook a whole chicken frozen solid without defrosting. Hell yes, I can. Come home and need dinner and your meat’s a rock-solid chunk? Toss it in the instant pot.
  2. Every meal makes at least two. When I cook the chicken whole, I make broth, which I freeze into a bullet if not cooking immediately. That broth becomes the basis of a chicken and rice soup (or chicken and noodle) soup.
  3. I don’t have to hover over it. Set and forget is the rule.

So, what’s our favorite thing to cook?

Chicken + Chicken stock.

I start with a whole chicken (giblets included? Hooray).

Next, I make the mirepoix – that’s a fancy word for chopping up an onion, some carrots and celery. You want twice as much onion as carrots or celery, usually. I dice a whole white onion, two carrots, and two sticks of celery. I’m a heathen who leaves my aromatics in the broth. Sue me.

Wash the chicken, dump it in the pot.

Add the mirepoix.

Salt and fresh ground peppercorns go in next.

Parsley if you like it (I do!)

Fresh thyme to taste!

Add just enough water to cover most of the chicken – remember, there’s going to be chicken juice soon enough. When in doubt, an little less water is better than more. Lock that lid on, set the vent to seal.

Now, here’s where things go a little off the rails (for anyone who hasn’t cooked much). The Instant Pot has lots of great settings, but for this one, we want to press the manual button, then increase the time to 60 minutes.  Me? I do it *way* longer, like 120 minutes, if I have time, but the chicken will be done in 60 minutes.

The pot starts automatically if the lid is on, and when it’s done, the chicken meat itself is good with vegetables, but what’s in the pot is even better…fresh chicken stock. I usually do a second pass on this by deboning the chicken, giving the bones a whack with a mallet to crack them open, and then tossing them back in the instant pot for another 60 minute round.

Why?

Cracking the bones opens the marrow up.

Cooking again extracts it.

The result is a chicken broth which you can strain and freeze. I bought some cheap plastic dishes that are the same size and shape as my pans, so my frozen broth comes out the right shape to thaw in a pan. 🙂

Next time, I’ll go into details about the pellet smoker, then the sous-vide, but fewer people have one of those, and lots of people have an instant-pot.

Cook. Eat. Enjoy.

Oh, and, umm…buy my books!

Free Agent – fairy tales meets urban fantasy: ,

The Reburialists – zombies action/adventure fantasy: ,

Toys – A romantic comedy:

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