Instant Pot Madness

By now you may have heard about this little thing called an “Instant Pot”.  If you haven’t, well then I must know, how is the weather under the rock which you’ve been living?

I was skeptical and already in a healthy relationship with my beloved crockpot.  Surely, I did not need a $100 pot to do everything my crock does [only faster].  I was really okay with the 6-8 hour cook time because good things take time, right?  I don’t need to cook my frozen chicken in 10 minutes because guys, I’m a planner…I get my chicken out the day before and allow it 24 hours to thaw.  

After many months of text messages from my friend telling me her Instant Pot success stories, I finally bit the bullet when Claire’s Closet Finds posted an Amazon lightening deal for the Instant Pot.  I purchased the Instant Pot for $80 my first week after having baby #3…if there ever was a time for quick and easy dinners, this was it!

It arrived in such a big box that I put off opening it for nearly a week.  You know that feeling of being so excited about a contraption but also terrified of even using it because you will have to [gasp] learn something new?  That was me.  I waited until my mom came to town and we tested it out together on my most favorite, Beef Stroganoff.  Now no one makes the Strog like my mama and I have never attempted the recipe before because I didn’t own her secret ingredient: a pressure cooker.  With my phone in hand so I could text my Instant Pot Aficionado friend, we broke out the IP and started cooking with pressure.  The Strog came out perfect and we didn’t waste a single second hanging out over a gas stove to achieve meaty tenderness.

With all of the buttons and functions to this pot, there is bound to be a learning curve for sure.  Luckily, there are Facebook groups, Pinterest pages and blogs devoted to spreading the goodness that is the Instant Pot.  I’ve used it a handful of times since that Strog-y Saturday with my mom, but it wasn’t until last night that I was a believer when I went rogue and decided to make a “simmer all day” type of pasta sauce in 30 minutes.

Yesterday, at 4:45 p.m., I broke out a partially frozen pound of ground beef, chopped up some onions and threw them both in the IP.  I set the function to “Saute” and within minutes my ground beef was browning and my onions were softening.  I added crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and a 1/2 cup of water to the ground beef and onion mixture.  I popped the lid on, set the valve to sealing and hit the manual button.  I set the timer for 15 minutes and allowed a 15 minute slow release [instead of pushing the valve to “vent”, you allow the pressure to slowly release while sealed].

While the meat sauce was cooking, I threw spaghetti in some boiling water on the stove.  I could have added it to the instant pot after the sauce was finished to make this quite literally a ONE POT MEAL, but my family doesn’t like their sauce and spaghetti pre-mixed [cough, cough divas].  After about 30 minutes, a 6-8 hour slow cooker pasta sauce was ready to be ladeled over spaghetti and served up to some hungry littles.  

It was so delicious, quick and easy that I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around how freaking awesome this Instant Pot is.  I haven’t even begun to scrape the surface of my 6 quart [non-yogurt] Instant Pot. If you haven’t purchased one, do it.  If you haven’t opened your purchased one, open it.  There are a lot of buttons and functions, but you won’t learn how to use them until you try.  Are you sitting there thinking about making a slow cooker meal for dinner tonight but crap, you’ve yet to get out your meat and double crap, if you don’t get it the crock now it won’t be ready until 8 p.m.?  Oh my friend, you need you this Instant Pot.

Even my pickiest eater gobbled up this scrumptious sauce.

Maybe use a bib?

Instant Pot Pasta Sauce Recipe

Print Recipe

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes [allows 5 minutes for the pressure to build]

1 lb ground beef

1 onion chopped

5-6 cloves of garlic, minced

24 oz can of crushed tomatoes

3 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup water

1/2 tbsp oregano

1/2 tbsp basil

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tbsp onion powder

Salt & Pepper to your liking

Parmesan Cheese [for plating]

Optional: Crushed red pepper flakes

  1. Turn function to Saute and add in your chopped onions, ground beef and garlic.
  2. Once meat is browned, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water & spices.  Mix together well.
  3. Put lid on the IP, set the valve to Sealing, function to manual and time to 15 minutes.
  4. Once the IP beeps, allow a 15 minute slow release.  While the pressure is releasing, make your pasta in salted water on the stove.
  5. Once the 15 minute release is over, using a wooden spoon turn the valve to vent. Allow the steam to completely release before opening the lid.
  6. Stir in Parmesan cheese to your liking and then ladle the sauce over the pasta.  Top with more Parmesan cheese.
  7. Eat!


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