Instant Pot Pork Chops with Mushroom Gravy

M, age 4, has been refusing a higher percentage of dinners lately than I would like, so I’ve been trying something: she and I made a list of dinners that we agree that all the solid-food-eaters in the house like.  Then, I plotted the dinners out over the course of a couple of weeks — I used a blank calendar that I’d been given.  This means that I’ve got her buy-in, as we say in business jargon, for those meals, and then I can schedule new recipes as well, and she knows we’ll get back to something familiar the next night.

We’ve been following this new system for a couple of weeks now, and as it turns out, I’m enjoying it quite a bit, myself.  Due to last weekend’s days-long, storm-induced power outage, I had to throw out almost everything in the fridge.  (D and I agreed that I should err on the side of caution.  After all, eating, like, ketchup that had gone bad would be a particularly silly way to die.)  It was a cathartic, if wasteful, process that left us with this amazing situation:

Since then, I’ve gone to Stop & Shop and BJ’s once each, and have had groceries delivered (a spendy indulgence that we are embracing while the twins are so little) from Wegman’s once.  Thanks to the dinner planning, the groceries we’ve bought are much more directed.  I get specific ingredients for specific meals, plus stuff for M’s and D’s lunches, plus assorted breakfast items.  And a few staple-type snacks.  Our fridge now looks as close as it ever will to the kind of fridge that might belong to someone who is professionally healthy:

Look at the salad dressings in the middle of the left door!  Only three, and all brand-new!  Nothing is falling out of anywhere!  The celery is not rubbery and is destined for one of our favorite recipes (that D will make) this weekend.  I’m sure we’re not following any of the rules about where you should keep which produce in order to maximize freshness, etc., but one step at a time, folks.

Anyhoo, on the calendar for tonight was pork, but I wanted to try something more savory than sweet.  I settled on This Old Gal’s Pressure Cooker Pork Chops in Homemade Mushroom Gravy.  Here’s a before photo:

I didn’t think we had any sherry and didn’t feel like looking, so I substituted white cooking wine.  I also opted for cornstarch because it’s what I had.  For the seasoned salt, I used Jane’s Crazy Mixed-Up Salt because, say it with me now, it’s what I had.

Here’s a sort of mise-en-place stage, with two of the pork chops obscured by the head of the mysterious mustachioed man who showed up at our house tonight.

For sides, I did some sweet potato mash (trim tough ends off three sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork before microwaving them for 8 minutes.  Cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.  Mash with a masher or fork and a little (1 Tb?) butter and salt to taste).

Sweet potato carcasses and mash

I also roasted some cauliflower, which I bought in floret form from BJs.  I lined a pan with aluminum foil, sprayed on a little olive oil, laid out the florets in one layer, sprayed with a little more olive oil, salted, and roasted in our Breville mini oven thing at 425 degrees with convection for 11 minutes, or until a little brown at the edges.

Here’s a sample plate:

And here’s the one for M, who says she doesn’t like mushrooms, but who did end up asking to add some gravy — without mushrooms — to her pork:

We all liked the meal enough to add it to our regular rotation.  D thought the pork was a bit tough, but that might have been due somewhat to my impatience — I released the pressure directly after cooking instead of waiting for 10 minutes of natural pressure release.  Next time, I might try decreasing the pressure cook time from 8 to 7 minutes.

Instant Pot Hard-cooked Eggs

I’ve been eating a lot of eggs recently, and boy, does the Instant Pot make hard “boiling” and peeling those suckers a breeze.  (I think technically, they are steamed?  Or — duh — pressure cooked, I suppose.)  I looked around the interwebs a bit and settled on the following method for perfectly-cooked Instant Pot eggs.  There seem to be a few different ways that people do these; this is just the one I tried today.

I sliced one of the eggs to add to my breakfast of bagel thin, cream cheese, cucumbers, and smoked salmon.  Here’s half of the resulting yumminess.  (If you care about WW points, both halves totaled 5 FSP.  Three for the bagel thin, two for one tablespoon of cream cheese.  The cukes, salmon, and eggs are zero.)

Not the prettiest photo I ever took, but way yummy.

I cooked all the thirteen eggs that we had (what’s that, husband D?  You were going to scramble a couple?  Er, sorry about that.)  In the interest of Science, I placed half of them (OK, six of them) directly into an ice bath, and plopped the other half (seven) back in the carton and the fridge.

Science.

Once they were all cool, I peeled and ate one of each kind of egg.  Far as I could tell, they were totally the same: beautifully cooked, with easy-peel shells and no green ring around the yolk.

Instant Pot Hard-cooked Eggs | serves as many people as you use eggs, I guess |WW FSP 0 per egg

Ingredients

Large eggs

Instructions

Pour a cup of water in the bottom of the Instant Pot.  Insert the trivet that came with the IP.  You can use a steamer basket instead of the trivet, if you prefer.

Pile up the eggs.  They can touch the side, each other — it’s wild, I tell you.

Close the lid and cook at high pressure for two minutes.  Use natural pressure release for 11 minutes, then quick release the rest.

If you need your eggs cold immediately, go ahead and plunge them into an ice bath.  (Note: proper enunciation is the only thing that distinguishes the spoken phrase “an ice bath” from “a nice bath.”  I know this because someone I know used to be an ice dancer, and when I pass along this info in conversation, listeners think I am describing this guy as a nice dancer.  Which he is, but no, I mean that he used to be an ice dancer.  Hilarious.)

Ice dancers. I’m sure they are nice, as well.

If, on the other hand, you have used all your ice to make G&Ts, feel free to just plop the cooked eggs back into the carton or into a bowl and put them back in the fridge.  Note that if you live with anyone with whom you typically share groceries, it is a kindness to communicate to him/her/them somehow that these particular eggs are already cooked.  Otherwise: s/he goes to crack an egg for a scramble and — what?!  Not that I know this from experience or anything.

Instant Pot Black Bean and Cauliflower Soup

I gave my husband, D, an Instant Pot Ultra for his birthday last month, and for a short but real time, I was scared of it.  Pressure cookers are dangerous, right?  Steam could just pour out and scald me any time, right?  Wrong.

Now that I’ve actually read some of the documentation and used the thing a little, I know that the gadget that Kevin Roose of the New York Times called “this holiday season’s must-have gift — a Furby for foodies” is perfectly safe and eminently predictable.  Our four-year-old daughter is way more volatile than the Instant Pot.  (Then again, maybe that’s not that high a bar.  Or low a bar?  Not totally sure this expression makes sense in this case, but, you know, just go with me here.)

And now, I am riding the Instant Pot wave to deliciousness.

Today, I tried making black bean soup in the Instant Pot.  I incorporated a bag of “Cauliflower Crumbles” (aka “riced” cauliflower) that I had bought on impulse this week.  Cauliflower is, as the whole trend to “rice” it, implies, relatively neutral in flavor.  D and I have used it before as (1) the base for creamy mash, (2) in potato soup, and (3) roasted in steak or florets form with salt and cumin.  I figured it would take on the strong flavor profile of the black beans well and would add a little bulk to the soup.

I knew the resulting soup would be healthy — or, perhaps more correctly, healthful.  It was also pretty darn tasty.  M, the four-year-old, ate it (although she needed me to spoon it for her, a request that has become more frequent since six weeks ago, when twin siblings A and H were born.  Fair enough, don’t you think?).  After tasting this soup, husband D wondered out loud whether he could bring it in for the lunch he has signed up to provide for 8-10 coworkers next month.  (Answer: sure.  It’ll be easy to bring the Instant Pot along to work if D wants.  Note that he drives there; he has no public transportation to negotiate.  This is key.  My friend H has been given an Instant Pot by her boss, but it’s at work — two subway rides and one commuter rail ride away from her Brooklyn home.  Meanwhile, she was inspired/compelled/possessed to open the box by CUTTING OFF THE PLASTIC CARRYING HANDLE.  That appliance is never going to see Brooklyn.)

Returning to my point: three out of my five family members (including me, naturally.  Is it still cool to say “natch?”  No?  Asking for a friend.) gave this recipe a thumbs up.  The twins did not express an opinion.

 

Instant Pot Black Bean and Cauliflower Soup | serves 10 | about 1 1/2 cups per serving | WW FSP 1 per serving (according to the in-app recipe builder; I tend to count this as a zero point food)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped (The Chop Wizard can help, as always)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1 large carrot, chopped small
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 pound dry black beans, rinsed
  • 16 oz. cauliflower crumbles (cauliflower, diced or riced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth (for vegan version, substitute vegetable broth)

Instructions

Add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot and close.  Stir it if you are so moved.  Seriously.  That’s all the prep there is here.

Cook on high pressure for 40 minutes; then use natural pressure release.  With pressure build and release, cooking time ends up being over an hour.  Open the lid and hunt down and remove the bay leaves.  Taste and add salt and/or hot sauce if you like.

Serve with toppings.  Put them all in bowls and pass them around the dinner (or lunch) table.  Possibilities:

  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced avocado
  • tortilla chips or strips
  • lime wedges for squeezing