My conversion of a slow cooker recipe for a pressure cooker.
I’m trying to do Whole30 these days. It was recommended by a friend late last summer and I hopped on in August. It was a huge change in my diet, mostly because I could no longer eat dairy and grains — and I’d been eating a ton of yogurt and granola for quite some time. But I came to feel that Whole 30’s emphasis on fresh lean meats and vegetables was good for me. It certainly makes me feel healthier.
Lots of folks complain about the amount of cooking you have to do with Whole30. I think that’s what I like best. I can make a batch of something and have leftovers for lunch. I especially love making a big batch of Paleo Moussaka, cutting it into single serving pieces, and freezing it in vacuum sealed packages for a quick and easy meal anytime I want it. And I like the challenge of taking a recipe that’s almost Whole30-compliant and modifying it to be fully compliant.
My friend Elizabeth loaned me a Whole30 cookbook and I browsed through it the other night looking for something new and interesting to make. I found a recipe for Slow Cooker Moroccan Chicken. I love the seasonings in middle-eastern and Moroccan foods so I figured I’d give it a try. But 6 hours in a slow-cooker? No thanks. I’ll make it in my instant pot.
My version of Moroccan Chicken, served on cauliflower “rice.” 30 minutes from an Instant Pot.
The recipe that follows was my first and very successful attempt. What threw me is that the original recipe did not call for any liquids to be added at all. I’ve never seen a slow cooker or pressure cooker recipe with no liquids, so I added about a half cup of coconut milk that was in my fridge, leftover from another meal I’d made earlier in the week. When I popped the lid on the Instant Pot, I was very surprised to see quite a bit of liquid in the pot, so I’m thinking that the coconut milk listed here isn’t necessary. I’ll leave it out next time.
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp minced garlic. (I’ll admit it; I used it from a jar.)
- 2 tsp minced ginger. (I just happened to buy some frozen cubes of ginger earlier in the day and I used that.)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1-1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 5 dates, pitted and sliced or chopped. (In a pinch, you could use the equivalent amount of raisins or prunes instead, but dates are best.)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup coconut milk. (This is optional. See my note above.)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted. (I used sliced and did not toast them.)
- Combine the seasoning ingredients in a small food processor or blender and process or blend until smooth. The result will be a paste.
- Put the onions into the bottom of the Instant Pot’s inner pot.
- Poke the chicken all over with a fork and then rub the seasoning paste into them, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the paste. Put the chicken on top of the onions. (I made sure I spread open the thigh pieces so they would cook thoroughly.)
- Coat the sweet potatoes with the rest of the seasoning paste. Put them in the pan on top of the chicken.
- Sprinkle the dates on top of the sweet potatoes.
- If using coconut milk, pour it as evenly as possible over the contents in the pot.
- Lock the pot. Press Manual and set the timer for 10 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. Open the pot carefully.
- Garnish with cilantro and almonds.
You can serve this over cooked cauliflower “rice,” other steamed vegetables (zucchini “noodles” are good for this), or real rice if you’re not following Whole30. The flavor is amazing.
Another quick and tasty pressure cooker meal.
Last spring, I bought a half a lamb and a half a goat from a local organic rancher. The meat came butchered (of course), packaged into a variety of cuts, and frozen solid. Each package of meat was tightly wrapped with plastic and then covered with white butcher paper. Some of it spent a little more than a year in my freezer with no ill effects.
Goat tagine, prepared in an Instant Pot.
As I’m working on clearing all the meat out of my big garage freezer for a new batch of meat next spring, I’m searching for recipes that are easy, tasty, and, if possible, Whole30 compliant. I found one called Goat Tagine with almonds and apricots on The Guardian website. I fiddled around with it a bit to Americanize the ingredient list and turn it into a recipe for my Instant Pot pressure cooker. Here’s my version.
- 1 tsp cumin seeds. Not easy to find; ground cumin, which I use a lot, is widely available.
- 1 tsp coriander seeds. I could not find these locally; all I could find was ground coriander. So I used slightly less than 1 tsp of that.
- 2 whole cloves
- 12 black peppercorns. I don’t see why they can’t be rainbow peppercorns if that’s all you have.
- 2 tbsp olive, rapeseed, or sunflower oil. I used olive oil.
- 2-1/2 pounds goat or lamb, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces. The original recipe specifies shoulder of kid or goat, but I went into my freezer and pulled all all the remaining goat packages I had: steaks, chops, shanks. Goats are small animals so although that might sound like a lot of meat, I think I came up short on the total amount of meat after I’d cut out the bones and trimmed away what little fat there was. My main goal, however, was to finish up all the goat left in the freezer and I succeeded.
- 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped. I used yellow onions.
- 1/2 cinnamon stick.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced. I suppose you can use the kind in a jar.
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated.
- 1 tsp hot, smoked paprika. I didn’t have this so I used 1 tsp of regular (sweet) paprika and about 1/8 tsp chili powder. I also added a drop of liquid smoke, but I think I could have used 2 or more drops because I didn’t taste any smokiness at all.
- 1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes. I used a pint-sized jar of chopped tomatoes in their natural juice. I’d canned them earlier this year. I really love being able to use my own garden vegetables in recipes year-round.
- 1 cup dried apricots, cut in half. I got Turkish apricots in the natural foods section of my supermarket. They’re available in bulk. They’re not the pretty orange ones that come prepackaged and are available elsewhere in the store. Instead, they were dark colored and didn’t look very appetizing. They tasted great and weren’t nearly as sweet as the orange ones. (That’s all I’m buying from now on.)
- 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds. I used slivered almonds because I prefer smaller pieces in my food.
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped.
- Set up the Instant Pot and make sure the pot is clean and dry. Press Sauté and allow the pot to heat. Then add the cumin, coriander, cloves, and peppercorns. Toast lightly for a few minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
- Transfer spices to a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder). Pound or grind into a powder and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp oil to the Instant Pot and allow it to heat. Then add the meat and brown it. You might have to do it in two batches with some additional oil; I didn’t. Transfer the meat into a bowl and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp oil to the instant pot. Then stir in the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender; about 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in the ground spices, cinnamon stick, garlic, ginger, paprika, and salt and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and their juices. While cooking, use a heat-resistant rubber spoon or wooden spoon to scrape away at any dark bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. The liquid in the tomatoes should make this easy.
- When the mixture has come to a boil, stir in the meat and any of its released juices.
- If necessary, add hot water to bring the level of liquid up to nearly cover the meat.
- Add the apricots and almonds and stir well.
- Cover the pot and lock the lid. Turn the steam vent so it’s closed.
- On the Instant Pot, press Off, and then Manual. Set the time to 30 minutes.
- Allow the stream to release naturally for about 10-15 minutes, then carefully open the pot.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.
A few notes about this recipe:
- You might need to add more salt. The original recipe was vague on what was needed so I made it without salt. It definitely needed salt so I added about a half teaspoon before locking down the lid. I try to minimize my salt intake for health reasons so you might want more.
- The original recipe, which was written for the stovetop, instructs you to cook kid for 45 minutes or goat for 60-75 minutes before adding the apricots and almonds and then cook for another 45 minutes. This would obviously cook the apricots less. You could simulate this in the Instant Pot by pressure cooking without the apricots and almonds for 20 minutes, adding them, and then pressure cooking for another 10 minutes. Then you’d have to deal with pressure release to open the pot to add the apricots and almonds. I’m lazy so I didn’t bother. It’s up to you. I don’t think the flavor will change.
- Reduce the pressure cooking time by 5 minutes if you’re using kid instead of goat.
- The recipe suggested serving with couscous, rice, or flatbread. But since I’m trying to avoid grains and gluten — yes, I’m still on that Whole30 thing and I’m actually liking it — I cooked up some finely chopped cauliflower and pretended it was rice. I poured some tagine right over that. Excellent.
Good on steak, too.
I’m going out to spend a few days with a friend at his house out on Lopez Island next week and, as usual, I’m bringing a ton of food from my garden, as well as eggs from my chickens. He has already promised me sea asparagus, which grows wild at his place, and a 13-year old bottle of wine he said he’s been saving for me. And what would be better with a nicely aged wine than a roasted prime rib? I just happen to have a small one in my freezer from the 1/4 cow I bought not long ago.
The last time I made a prime rib was years ago on my Traeger. My friend Mike had bought the meat at Costco and handed it over for me to cook. When I saw the price on it — $52! — I went into panic mode. What if I ruined this expensive cut of meat?
I had never cooked a prime rib and I went online for instructions. I was living in my Mobile Mansion at the time, so I didn’t have an oven big enough to cook it in. It had to go on the Traeger. I found a recipe for a Prime Rib Rub (see below), rubbed it on, stuck a thermometer in the meat — Mike had bought me a new wireless one; my old one was still packed in Arizona — and put it on the Traeger at whatever the recommended settings were. A few hours later, we had the most amazing prime rib dinner.
In the years since, I’ve used the rub extensively when grilling beef. As a matter of fact, I used up the last of my most recent batch on a nice filet mignon that I grilled up the other night. I went in search of the recipe to make another batch and figured it might be a good idea to just document it here for future reference. So here it is.
- 1/3 cup coarse kosher salt or 1/4 cup fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons dry mustard
- 4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic or dried minced garlic or 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl or jar.
- Rub on beef prior to grilling or smoking.
- Store leftover in a tightly sealed container.
I made two batches this morning: one for me and one for my friend.
Tip: For lamb or goat, try ras el hanout, which I mention in this recipe.