Over the weekend, I decided to see how my favourite ‘anytime’ Chili recipe would turn out if I gave it the Instant Pot treatment. I expected the dish to be done quicker than it usually is in the conventional Slow Cooker, but I wasn’t prepared for the enhancements in colour, texture and flavour…
Everybody who’s cooked seriously knows that steaming food helps preserve colour and texture much better than boiling. My favourite examples are Green Beans and Broccoli. I didn’t expect the Instant Pot to bequeath such benefits to those and other foods I cooked in it. But it did my Chili proud.
Here’s what I did…
I started by browning 5 lb. / 2.3 kg of Lean Ground Beef in the bottom of the cooking pot. After Pouring off the excess fat, I simply added two drained and rinsed cans of Black Beans (Pintos, Kidneys or other beans of your choice can be substituted), two large-diced Onions, 4 stalks of Celerey diced medium, 3 Beefsteak Tomatoes diced large, one quart / litre of Crushed Tomatoes, 4 tbsp / 60 ml of Arbol Chili Powder (start with 2 tbsp. / 30 ml. and increase to suit your taste), 1 tbsp. / 15 ml Cumin, 1 tbsp. / 15 ml Coriander, 2 tsp. / 10 ml of Salt, and 2 tsp. / 10 ml Black Pepper. As a final touch, I added three large Cloves of Garlic, minced.
Then I gave it all a good stir with a wooden spoon to distribute all the ingredients evenly among each other and put on the lid. But rather than setting up for pressure cooking, I set the steam vent to ‘Venting’, which allows excess steam to escape the pot rather than building up pressure. And I didn’t use the Slow Cook preset. Instead, I punched up ‘Simmer’ and let ‘er rip. After about 45 minutes, I removed the lid and let the proto-Chili cook off about 20 percent of its remaining excess moisture and thicken.
In about an hour and a half, I was ready to serve one of the most flavourful Chilis I’ve ever made. The secret, as I mentioned above, is that the stuff doesn’t simmer all day like it would have to in a Slow Cooker. It steamed in a fraction of the time, preserving the colours and textures of the individual ingredients. And the best part? The Instant Pot method I employed cooked everything perfectly, and allowed each ingredient to retain it’s own distinct flavour. All-day simmering unavoidably fuses all the flavours into one vaguely Meaty ‘average’, and takes the edge off the spices, which do so much to give Chili it’s special character.
The recipe produced 10 x 8 oz. / 230 ml portions, perfect for serving over a scoop of plain White Rice in a wide-brimmed Soup bowl. Mom and I each had one portion for supper, and I bagged the rest in 2-serving pouches for the freezer.
This is a great way to take advantage of sales on Ground Beef at the supermarket. My food mart of choice often offers deep discounts on large packages (often called ‘Club’ or ‘Family’ packs) for as little as $2.50 per lb. / $5.45 per kg. I grabbed one of those earlier last week with the express intent of ‘batching’ Chili on the weekend. I calculated my total cost of ingredients for the batch at under $17.00 – that’s just $1.70 per serving!
Yes, you use a lot of Spices in this batch approach, but, if you followed my Cooking 101 advice, you get your herbs and spices inexpensively at the Bulk Store and store them in air-tight glass jars left over from bottled Pasta Sauces.
No, you don’t have to be too fussy about how perfectly you chop the Veggies. They’re going to be camouflaged by the Meat and the Sauce!
Never have I made a faster, easier, more flavourful Chili than with my Instant Pot. I’m in love!
~ Maggie J.