Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Braising with an Instant Pot

Okay, I admit it…I LOVE MY INSTANT POT! I will never be able to completely abandon the old-fashioned, slow, low cooking methods that fill your house with amazing smells and make everything cozy. But the Instant Pot does deliver outstanding results in less time. Cooking under pressure is a technique all in itself, and it’s great to understand the basics!

I’ve read lots of recipes for braised food and they all call for browning the meat and veggies before cooking. Do you still have to do that in an Instant Pot?

Yes, I recommend not skipping this step. That brown color is crucial in developing a well-rounded flavor in your dish. Personally, I do not like the searing function on the Instant Pot. I find it is either too hot or not hot enough and can’t seem to find the sweet spot. I still brown on my stovetop in a big pan. I also still deglaze my pot with some wine or stock and then dump all that good deglazed liquid with all the little brown bits into the Instant Pot so I don’t lose any flavor! You definitely don’t have to brown your ingredients, but I highly encourage you to!

If I’m making short ribs or lamb shanks (any cut on the bone), do I take the meat off the bone or leave them in?

There are fundamental cooking facts that stay the same whether you’re braising the old-fashioned way or cooking with a pressure cooker (or even if you’re cooking with a really high tech device like an immersion circulator). Bone in vs. bone out is one of those fundamentals. Any time you cook with the bone in you will gain flavor as well as body in your final dish. Bones contain marrow and collagen that tastes awesome and helps thicken your broth/stew base. I always recommend leaving the bones in!

Recipe: Instant-Pot-Roast

1 large chuck roast, cut into four pieces
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
2 parsnips peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup red wine
2 Tbsp flour
4 small yukon gold potatoes
1 sprig rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken or beef broth
Salt and pepper as needed
fresh parsley, chopped

In a large pot on your stovetop heat the oil. Season the chuck roast liberally with salt and pepper and brown the pieces on all sides. Transfer them to the Instant Pot. To the same pot, add the carrot, parsnip, celery, and onion and brown them over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer the browned veggies to the Instant Pot. Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove all the lovely brown bits. Pour the wine from the pot into the Instant Pot. Sprinkle the flour over the contents of the instant pot and give it a good stir to evenly coat everything. To the Instant pot, add the potatoes, herbs, garlic, bay leaf and chicken stock. The stock should come about halfway up the side of the roast. Place the top on the Instant Pot and make sure the pressure valve is closed. Set the Instant Pot for 45 minutes at normal pressure. When it is done let it depressurize on its own. Open the lid and adjust the liquid for seasoning to your taste. Remove the herb stems and bay leaf before serving.