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Instant Pot users provide tips and recipes for latest kitchen gadget

Zuppa Toscana Soup in the Instant Pot takes just 13 minutes to cook. Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Eden Photography1 / 3
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FARGO — While it's all the rage, Beth Iepson admits she was rather terrified of the idea of an Instant Pot at first.

"I was honestly scared to use it just because I had seen my mom's older pressure cooker — this scary thing. You always picture the top blowing off, I don't know why," says the 29-year-old owner of Elisabeth Eden Photography. "It doesn't even let you open it unless it's done so there's no way you can mess it up."

Iepson was introduced to the Instant Pot last summer by a foodie friend.

"She told me, 'You have to get one of these. This is seriously taking over,'" Iepson says. "She was like, 'This Instant Pot has a cult following, I'm not even kidding you.'"

"Honestly, if somebody wanted to test out their Instant Pot, I would do a meat in there first," she says. "We just sat there amazed that first time we made pork in it. It tastes like it's been cooking all day."

For most meals — especially those prepared in a slow cooker — you have to plan ahead. But with the Instant Pot, that's not the case.

"If you're making meat or whatever, you can be cutting up your lettuce or setting the table. I love multitasking and it's a dream for that," Iepson says.

You can make what?

Though it's not technically a rice cooker, Iepson uses her Instant Pot to make an easy rice and chicken meal for lunch. Applesauce is a hit with her two boys, which just requires apples, liquid and an immersion blender at the end.

Here are some other surprising dishes you can make in your pressure cooker:

• Dairy products: yogurt, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese (and many other cheeses)

• Baked goods: muffins, sourdough cornbread, oatmeal, cheesecake, creme brulee

• Vegetables: cauliflower rice, mashed potatoes, french fries, brussel sprouts, corn on the cob

• Some canned goods: acidic fruits, jams, pickles, tomatoes (canning with boiling water only)

• Candy: peanut brittle, Tootsie Rolls

• Drinks: lattes, apple cider, mulled wine, iced tea, Limoncello

• Anything sauteed: caramelized onions, roasted garlic, browned meat, pasta

• Leftovers: the "sauté," "slow cooker," "keep warm" and "steam" functions help to reheat a variety of foods

• Non food-related recipes: hard lotion bars, herbal salves, cough syrup, dog food

• Others: vanilla extract, sauces (i.e. marinara, alfredo) popcorn, refried beans, hard-boiled eggs, risotto, one pot meals

Here are 3 staple recipes you must try ASAP in your Instant Pot:

Instant Pot Zuppa Toscana Soup

Ingredients:

1 pound ground Italian sausage

6 to 7 slices of bacon, chopped

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 bunch of kale, destemmed

1 cup coconut milk

5 cups chicken broth

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley (plus extra for garnish)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Set the Instant Pot to sauté and add the bacon. Cook until crispy and set aside, leaving the fat in the pot. Keeping the Instant Pot on sauté, add the onion to the bacon fat; cook sauté for 5 to 6 minutes or until translucent. Add the minced garlic for 3 to 4 minutes or until fragrant. Add in the ground sausage and sauté until cooked through. Remove some fat if desired.

Turn the Instant Pot off sauté and pour in the chicken bone broth, coconut milk, salt, pepper and diced sweet potato. Stir to combine.

Lock the lid onto the Instant Pot and set to 13 minutes on high. After the soup is done, allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the lid and add in the kale and parsley and allow to wilt in the hot soup. Serve topped with bacon and extra parsley.

*Note: This recipe also adheres to Paleo and Whole30 diets.

Recipe courtesy of Unboundwellness.com

Instant Barbecue Pot Pulled Pork

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 (4- to 5-pound) pork shoulder

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ cups water

1 (18-ounce) bottle of barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's recommended)

Dry rub:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Cut your pork shoulder into large pieces. Combine dry rub ingredients and apply it to all sides of the meat. Set your Instant Pot to "saute" and add oil. Add meat to brown all sides (3 minutes per side works well). Mix water with barbecue sauce; set aside. Once all meat has been browned, remove from Instant Pot. Add mixture of water and barbecue sauce to Instant Pot to deglaze bottom of pot. (Use wooden spoon to scrape bottom of Instant Pot.)

Add pork back into Instant Pot. Lock lid and set venting to "sealing". Choose the "meat" setting and set to 60 minutes. Wait for pressure to build up — you should see the pressure pin pop up after a few minutes. After 60 minutes of cooking, carefully release pressure to "venting"; remove from pot when pressure is released.

Use forks or tongs to pull apart pork. (Meat should be tender and fall apart.) Serve on a bun with added barbecue sauce, if needed.

Recipe courtesy of Slickhousewives.com

Instant Pot Easy Hard-boiled Eggs

Ingredients:

Eggs (as many as you like to fill the bottom of the pot rack)

1 cup water

Directions:

Pour the water into the pot, and place the eggs inside the Instant Pot on the rack (or steamer basket, if you have one). Close the lid; set for 5 minutes at high pressure. It will take the cooker approximately 5 minutes to build to pressure and then 5 minutes to cook. When done cooking, allow pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes and then use the "quick release" function. Place the hot eggs into cool water to halt the cooking process. Peel immediately, or wait.

Recipe courtesy of Theprairiehomestead.com.

Mastering the art of easy

At first, pressure cooking can be intimidating. Iepson provides some valuable tips for Instant Pot newbies.

• Convert recipes. "If you have a slow cooker recipe that you want to make in the Instant Pot, there are charts to convert it online." Some recipes have even began providing directions for both a slow cooker and pressure cooker.

• Stack ingredients appropriately. Many users recommended stacking meat in the bottom and pasta on top to ensure the best outcome for most meals.

• Don't forget to use liquid. "Make sure you always have a minimum of 1 cup liquid. I buy in bulk chicken stock from Costco. But you can use water. They just say it needs (liquids) to pressurize," Iepson says. "If you add too much liquid in, then it does dilute it. There's an even balance, I guess. Just read your recipe."

• Shut the pressure valve. "There's this little valve on there that has to stay shut for it to build pressure," Iepson says. She learned this lesson early on when she left it open by accident.

• Allow time for pressurizing. "It needs time to pressurize before it starts cooking," Iepson says. "It takes like 10 extra minutes to build pressure and release it." The Instant Pot doesn't begin its timer countdown until it's pressurized. Cooks must keep in mind when a recipe says 5 minutes to cook, pressurizing and releasing pressure will add to the total time.

• Use valve to release pressure faster. "Instead of naturally releasing pressure that could take like 15 minutes, you can just flip that (pressure release valve) open," Iepson says. "Then it releases in like 5 minutes." Although some users recommend letting meat naturally release pressure to ensure utmost tenderness.

Alexandra Floersch

Alexandra Floersch has worked for Forum Communications since February 2015. She is a content producer and photographer who enjoys writing about finance, fashion and home.

(701) 451-5730
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