I purchased an Instant Pot (note: it’s not InstaPot) last year and have found it to be an incredible tool. I rarely use my oven anymore though the kids use it daily to make their lunches (tater tots, sandwiches with melted cheese, etc).
I have even transitioned to making freezer meals ahead of time.
Let me share the meal I made for my family today (it’s a Sunday afternoon and I forgot to prep anything for our lunch). We got home from church and I put in the prepped meal, a box of bow-tie pasta, and enough water to just-barely cover the noodles. Set the timer to 5 minutes* and we all sat down to watch an episode of “This Is Us.” Yes. I cried.
Half-way through the episode the magic pot was done and we paused the movie to eat. I added the last two ingredients to the pot, stirred, and plated.
It doesn’t get easier than that! A crock pot is great, and I will not get rid of mine, but it takes many hours and has to be put together LONG before church. This was a meal I was able to, with some prep work on an earlier day, put in the pot and have on the table in 40 minutes. To find out which recipe this is, go to my PlanToEat website (the only affiliate link I have) and search my recipes for Bow Ties with Sausage. This recipe was passed on to me by Kari, a fellow Plan-to-Eat and Instant Pot fan!
There are dozens of features the Instant Pot has that I will not share with you because all you have to do is join a Facebook group designated for IP owners and you’ll hear all about them. Or you can Google it and read through hundreds of reviews.
One thing I’d like to say is that many people are surprised that their meals, while the recipe says, “five minutes” aren’t DONE in five minutes. There is a slight learning curve to the Instant Pot and you have to account for the time it takes the pot to get to pressure. With a large block of frozen food, it took my Instant Pot 25 minutes to come to pressure. So, 30 minutes, start to finish even though the recipe called for it to “cook” for five. Keep that in mind lest you think there really is magic inside the machine.
I’m actually here to describe to you a use for this appliance that I came up with all by myself. I hosted an event for which I had Chick-fil-a cater. I ordered two large nugget trays and wanted to order 2 small trays of grilled nuggets. Turns out, they don’t have that on their catering list because those nuggets “don’t travel well.” My guess is that they dry out or something; they didn’t say.
I was determined to have grilled nuggets for those who have allergies and for those who wanted grilled instead. We ordered two 30-piece nuggets and told them that we wouldn’t hold CFA responsible if they didn’t turn out okay. I can respect that the company doesn’t want to send out a platter of food wouldn’t be up to the quality that they maintain in the restaurant. However, I had a plan.
As soon as the grilled nuggets arrived at the location, I put them in my instant pot and set the timer for 0 minutes. (That is not a typo. You can set it for 0 minutes, which means it will come to pressure and then beep to let you know it’s at pressure. You can then decide to release the pressure quickly (AKA: QR, for quick release) or allow it to release naturally (AKA: NPR, for natural pressure release). Those are drastically different and each recipe will tell you what to do. Typically, meat-based dishes will call for NPR, while pasta dishes almost always call for QR.
Those nuggets were AMAZING when we sat down to eat.
I even had several CFA employees in attendance at my event and they tested them out… they were given the unofficial stamp of approval and they tasted them two-and-a-half hours after the nuggets had been picked up!
So, for those of you who want to order Chick-fil-a grilled nuggets to serve a few hours after pick-up, here’s the set-up and the trick:
I put 1.5 cups of water in the IP. Inserted the trivia that came with the IP. Put the 60 nuggets in the white dish and covered with aluminum foil. Put the dish on the trivet, closed the pot and set the steam release valve to sealed. Pressed Hi 0 minutes and it came to pressure. I let it NPR while I visited with my guests. When it was time to eat I was nervous to see whether or not these nuggets had survived. They were as fresh and warm as if they had been served to me in the dining room of any Chick-fil-a.
After we finished eating, I left the IP on warming mode. I closed the foil back up and, before closing the lid, I placed a bowl of regular nuggets wrapped in foil on top of the grilled nuggets, closed the IP, and left the steam valve on vent. It kept the food warm for the guests who had to arrive later, and those were the CFA employees who were glad to see how fresh the nuggets tasted.
I am happy to say that the regular nuggets, while not super crispy, were warm and fresh tasting, too.
So, there’s something that I learned about my Instant Pot that made me want to share with the world. I searched online for ways to use the IP to keep grilled chicken fresh-tasting and got nothing. Since I needed to know, I figured someone else may also want to know this someday. Now they won’t have to trial-and-error their way.
8 quart Instant Pot
small ceramic dish
aluminum foil covering the chicken so water doesn’t get into the dish
*The best noodles are thicker ones: penne, bow-tie, etc. and the rule of thumb is to cook for half the recommended boil time.