Nina’s Tips: Chicken Stock in the 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 heard the Instant Pot makes great chicken stock. Is it better than making it the old-fashioned way?

I wouldn’t say it’s better—just different! Instant Pot chicken stock is created under pressure, so nearly all of the collagen is extracted from the chicken bones in far less time than on your stove top. The instant pot does produce wonderful, golden, flavorful stock with full body in a fraction of the time IF you do it correctly. Let’s review some of the fundamentals of stock making to really explain why Instant Pot stock is a worthy alternative…
It should be clear. Clear stock comes from an absence of boiling. If stock boils it emulsifies fat and particulates into the broth which leaves it cloudy in appearance and greasy on the palette. The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker; under pressure the bones and mirepoix become very hot, but do not ever boil, ensuring that that your finished product is clear and golden.
It should have body. Good chicken stock appears like chicken jell-o when it is cold because it is rich in collagen (the protein that comes out of the soft cartilage in the bones). A long, slow cooking process extracts collagen from bones, while in the case of your Instant Pot it’s pressure that does the trick. This is actually the one area where I might dare to say that pressure does a BETTER job than time. You can see the difference in the leftover bones—whereas traditional stock bones will still have cartilage bits at the edges, Instant Pot stock bones will have next to nothing on them because it has all dissolved into the stock!

I tried making stock and it was all cloudy! What did I do wrong?

My best guess is that you manually released the pressure valve at the end of the cooking process. This is a no-no if you want clear stock. Like I said before, the reason the process is accelerated in the Instant Pot is because it is under tremendous pressure. The pressure keeps it from boiling even at high temps, but when the pressure is released the temperature will spike causing it to rapidly boil. It is best to let the Instant Pot slowly release the pressure on its own to maintain the necessary amount of pressure as it cools to a temperature where it will not boil. I’ve found it sometimes take upwards of 30 minutes to let the pressure release, but the result is worth it, and all in all it still requires far less time from start to finish.

Recipe: Easy Instant Pot Chicken Stock

2 packages chicken wings
2 carrots, cleaned and cut into 4 pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 4 pieces
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 leek, washed, and cut into four pieces
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Handful parsley stems (if you have them)

Put all ingredients in the Instant Pot. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and reach up to the fill line. Close the lid and make sure the pressure valve is closed. Set the Instant Pot for 1 hour on normal pressure. Allow Instant Pot to release pressure on its own when the cook time is over. Strain contents and cool completely. Use within 5-7 days or freeze for later use.