An Instant Pot Trial By Fire

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I have been dying for an Instant Pot. But only because everyone on the Internets told me I should be dying for an Instant Pot; I didn’t even know what these things do, exactly. Aren’t they just…crockpots? …Sort of?

Apparently Instant Pots cook meals in a fraction of the time you’d expect…but, as I completely do not understand the science behind pressure-cooking, it is very hard for me to believe that a meal that should ordinarily take eight hours to cook can take half an hour. That’s some magic shit right there.

So of course, when did I decide to break in my brand-new Instant Pot? An hour before I was to feed eight full-sized people, of course! And what did I decide to make for these eight full-sized people? A pot roast. OF COURSE. Because pot roasts are one dish that most definitely require time – like, lots of it – and so I decided to do it: Conduct a high-stakes trial by fire with the potential to leave me with a household full of people expecting dinner and virtually no food (or perhaps terrible food) to feed them.

So my mom – who came to visit over the weekend – and I ran out to the store, picked up double the amount of beef and vegetables that my usual recipe calls for (because eight full-sized people), I googled “how long to cook pot roast in Instant Pot,” and I went to work.

Did I read the instructions that came with my Instant Pot first?

Of course not; please, you already knew that.

What this meant was that when my guests arrived and I turned off the pressure-valve thing, it erupted three feet into the air and I screamed like the house was burning down, until Brie and Shanee very calmly informed me that the EXPLOSION OF BOILING-HOT STEAM was a totally normal component of the Instant Pot experience.

I feel like maybe this should be written in large red letters across the front of the box and perhaps the pot itself, but fine: Let’s assume most people have more operational knowledge of the fine points of pressure-cooking than yours truly.

Me, learning how an Instant Pot works in real time. Let’s all thank Margo’s daughter Claire for the stunning portrait.

But you know what happened next?

I opened the lid, poked in a fork…and emerged with meat so tender and falling-apart and straight-up DELICIOUS that I might as well have been simmering it from the moment I woke up that morning.

I don’t get it.

I don’t care.

I am officially One Of Those Instant Pot People.

Instant Pot Pot Roast (serves 4-6)

What You Need:

  • 3lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into large chunks
  • Garlic powder
  • Season salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and large diced
  • 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, cut into large pieces (leave them whole if they’re on the smaller side)
  • 1 lb carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Coca-Cola (apple cider, red wine, and Dr. Pepper all work well, too)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • Salt & pepper

What You Do:

  1. Turn the Instant Pot onto the saute setting, and heat 1 tbsp olive oil until sizzling. Pat the beef dry with paper towels, then generously season with garlic powder, season salt, and salt & pepper on both sides. Working in batches, sear the beef for 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove beef to a plate.
  2. Add another bit of olive oil to the pot, then throw in the diced onion and a little more garlic powder (or fresh sliced garlic, if you’re less lazy than me). Cook, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes (or until softened).
  3. Add tomato paste and mustard to onions and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minutes (or until tomato paste darkens).
  4. Add the Coca-Cola to the pan and deglaze, scraping up all the browned bits off the bottom. Simmer 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the beef broth to the pot, then layer in the beef. Place the vegetables on top of the beef – so they’re not in the braising broth – and do not stir. Just let ’em be. (The Googles told me this, too.)
  6. Turn the pressure cooker function on to high, close the lid, and set the cook time to 35 minutes. It apparently takes about 19 minutes for the pot to “come to pressure,” whatever that means, so since this was my first time using the thing I set a timer to make sure I knew wtf was going to happen at 19 minutes. You know what happens?! Your genius little Instant Pot – I shall name mine “Charlie” – knows to automatically start the 35-minute timer going at that point. WHAT.
  7. After the 35 minutes is up, the Instant Pot then stuns you with its beauty by automatically beginning the process of natural depressurization. You do literally nothing. It just happens! WHAT. After ten minutes of natural depressurization you’re supposed to quick-release the remaining pressure. How that works – if you are me – is that you flip the pressure valve over to “quick release,” get a steam-explosion in your face, and scream. (Maybe skip the screaming.)
  8. When the depressurization process has completed (no more scary steam), remove the vegetables and beef to a plate. You can either serve the beef in chunks or – my preferred way – shred it with two forks.
  9. Make a slurry by whisking 2 tsp cornstarch into about 2 tbsp warm water until cornstarch dissolves. Add the slurry to the sauce in the pot and whisk until blended. Serve by pouring a little sauce over the pot roast and garnishing with fresh chopped parsley. Serve the remainder of the sauce on the side.

Oh my god, my life is so much better now. Thank you, Instant Pot. Thank you.

More pics of the evening – and the pot roast – below, courtesy of our lovely in-house paparazzo, Claire.

instant pot pot roastinstant pot pot roast recipemalibu sunset

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