Are you a pressure cooker pro? I had absolutely zero experience with one, prior to last week, and after some of the old horror stories I had read, I fully expected to burst, damage or maim myself (Gross! That would be so messy!) or others if I was foolish enough to try and use one. -lol- It turns out that I had nothing to fear and my new Potato Bacon Chowder recipe is good evidence of it!
Thankfully, some of those old stories may be slightly exaggerated and ALL of them were from a point in time where pressure cooker technology had not developed to the level we enjoy, today. What a relief to see how safe modern pressure cookers have become! The Instant Pot Electric slow cooker was easy and safe to operate. And best of all, the Instant Pot is electric. I don’t even need to use a burner on my range, which means more space available to cook other dishes while my Instant Pot pressure cooker cooks a dish for our meal!
How Does an Electric Pressure Cooker Work?
I want you to have this hearty, creamy Potato Bacon Chowder recipe, but first, I want you to know more about the marvelous appliance I cooked it in. I don’t want you to waste the time, I did, being afraid. You are totally capable of using a modern pressure cooker and producing fabulous dishes with one. Pressure cooking has many advantages, speed being the most noticeable, for this novice. I made my Potato Bacon Chowder in just minutes! However, after preparing several different recipes, it was soon evident that speed is just scratching the surface of the list of benefits of using the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker.
- During pressure cooking, heat is very evenly, deeply, and quickly distributed. This provides not only faster cooking times (up to 70% reduction in cooking times!), but consistency throughout your dish. Foods, especially meats, tend to be more tender and juicy when prepared in a pressure cooker. Dishes burst with flavor, since they are cooked in a sealed environment, with only enough liquid to keep the pressure cooker filled with steam. This pressurized steam pushes seasonings and flavor deep into the food and also results in the greater retention of nutrients.
- The InstaPot has 10 safety features built in, that exceed the already vastly improved safety of modern pressure cookers.
- Instant Pot has eight intelligent programming, one-key operation buttons built in. You can select pre-programmed cooking times for Soup, Rice, Multi-grain Rice, Congee, Meat & Stew, Beans & Chili, Steaming, and Slow Cooking. (Yup, it can also function as a slow cooker!)
- You can select Manual Mode to select your own specific length of time for the recipes you’re preparing.
- It’s automatic! Once a dish has completed the selected time or cooking program, it automatically switches to Keep Warm mode. You don’t have to stand over the cooker, monitoring every second of cooking and timing it to remove it from the heat at the proper time.
- The delayed cooking feature allows you to plan up to 24 hours ahead when preparing dishes.
- Reduced cooking time, means reduced energy usage and it already uses far less energy than your range or oven. Imagine the energy-savings recognized in 70% shorter cooking times!
- You don’t heat up your kitchen using it and it is extremely energy-efficient. The Instant Pot exterior housing is fully insulated and cool to the touch during short-term operation and only lukewarm during long-term cooking. The “intelligence” built into it, means that only the inner pot is being heated in order to maintain the pressure level and that energy is concentrated on cooking the food. Having to heat the inner pot only to reach and maintain specific pressure levels means that the heating element is only actively “heating” about 40% of the time during long-term cooking.
- It is totally quiet during operation. I remember a spitting, steaming, click-click-clicking pressure cooker on my Grandma’s stove top when I was a child. There is none of that with the Instant Pot. I have the option of opening the pressure valve and releasing steam quickly at the end of cooking or simply allowing the steam to dissipate naturally as part of the pre-programmed settings. Even with the manual quick-release of the pressurized steam in the pot, the noise is minimal.
- It has been easy to learn to use. I was somewhat fearful, in the beginning, but have really enjoyed how simple it is to operate the Instant Pot. Straight from the box, I was able to have my first dish cooking away in a matter of minutes.
If I had to pick one thing that I wish was different, it would be that the User Manual and Recipe Booklet, included, would be more detailed. Both seem to assume the user will have some general knowledge of pressure cooking and so did not answer all the “newbie” general questions I had about pressure cooking. Many of those questions were easily answered through Google searches and studying pressure cooker recipes, at Food.com and Allrecipes.com, however. I have also heard of using pressure cookers for home canning and there was no mention of this possibility, so I will need to further research that, as well.
The Instant Pot is definitely one of those multi-use appliances that is going to be heavily used in my kitchen. It’s a slow cooker, rice cooker, vegetable steamer AND a pressure cooker. I’m really anxious to see all the ways I will be able to use it for holiday cooking. The first day I received it, I prepared this beautiful and absolutely mouthwatering pork loin roast in only 40 minutes.
I also used the Instant Pot to cook dry beans. From dry to tender and ready to use in any recipe, it was only 45 minutes! I forgot to take any pictures in all the excitement of mass cooking all those beans so quickly, but here’s all I did. I used a 1 lb bag of red beans and a 1 lb bag of black beans. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover completely with water. Allow them to soak for about 4 hours (Skins will be wrinkly.) Drain and rinse the beans. Place the dry beans, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup butter in the Instant Pot. Cover beans with water, making sure the water level is 2 to 3 inches above the level of the beans. Lock pressure cooker lid into place and make sure steam valve is sealed. Press the program button for beans and leave the cooker to work. At the end of the 45 minute cycle, quick-release the steam and remove the beans. They are ready to use in any recipe. I actually used some for taco soup and then froze the rest in quart-sized ziptop bags.
How to Make Potato Bacon Chowder
The recipe I want to share with you was one I devised hurriedly on Wednesday afternoon, when I realized I hadn’t thawed anything for supper, which was going to have to be early because of Wednesday night church activities. I decided to use ingredients I already had in my kitchen and make a hearty soup that would fill every one up, for their evening out. This yummy Potato Bacon Chowder was the happy result. It was so simple and exceptionally fast, which was just what I needed.
- 5 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 stalks celery, sliced thin
- 1 large onion, small diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon seasoning salt (I used Country Bob's)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups chicken stock
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 lb. bacon, fried crisp and rough chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and diced green onion for garnish
- Place potato chunks into inner pot of pressure cooker.
- Add celery, onion, garlic, seasoning salt, pepper and butter. Stir to combine.
- Add bacon and chicken stock to pot and then stir to combine. (I debated on whether to add the bacon, now, or when the soup was done. Now, meant sinking that smoky flavor deep into the potatoes. Later, meant having that crispier texture element to enjoy in my finished soup. Tonight, I opted for the deep flavor (Totally delish, by the way!), but you could go either way and it would be tasty and perfectly acceptable.) If you decide to wait, you will add the bacon when you stir in the milk and cream.)
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot slow cooker and lock it into place.
- It will start, off to the side, so it drops into the slots in the rim and then you will grip the handle to spin the lid into the locked position. See how the arrows line up when it's locked?
- Push the Manual mode button and set the timer for 5 minutes. (I started with 10 and then checked half way through. At five minutes, the potatoes were fork tender and perfect. Amazing!)
- Quick-release the steam from the pressure cooker.
- When steam is fully gone, remove the lid of the slow cooker. There should still be liquid in the pot with your veggies.
- Use a potato masher to crush vegetables, resulting in a thick, semi-smooth mash. I left a few bigger chunks of potato, in mine, for texture. That's totally a preference thing, so adjust for what your family likes.)
- Add cream and whole milk, stirring to incorporate.
- Serve hot and steaming, topped with sour cream, shredded cheddar and sliced green onion.
Are you hungry, yet? 🙂 Me, too! I’m about to dig into a steaming bowl of this wonderful soup. I hope you’ll love Potato Bacon Chowder as much as I, and my family, do.
I received an Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker in order to test it in my own kitchen, write this review and develop the Potato Bacon Chowder recipe. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own.