The Thanksgiving Day kitchen inevitably is populated with some form of chaos, unless you are one of those uber-organized, super-efficient home cooks. (And how many people are really like that? I hate them.)
I mean, your oven’s full of turkey, or pies, or rolls or extra stuffing; your stovetop’s covered in pots boiling potatoes and steaming veggies, the kitchen’s heating up, the sink’s full of dishes and pretty soon you have to clear some space to make the gravy.
A potential oasis of calm: your multicooker. This portable device can be parked away from the fray — out on the patio, even — and used to produce a side dish, or two or three, if you plan right.
If the party’s not at your house, you could take your cooker to the feast, plug it in and make a dish that you can serve hot. OK, maybe that’s extreme behavior, but I put the idea out there anyway.
On these pages are four ideas, all tested in an Instant Pot.
If you’re a novice or nervous insta- cooker, don’t add to the stress of the day worrying that you’ll open your pot to over- or undercooked food. If you’re using a recipe for the first time, err on the side of the shorter cooking time. If your dish turns out a bit shy of perfectly done, put it back in the pot and crank the pressure up for another few minutes.
Then go find a glass of wine. When you come back, all will be well.
I LIKE the mix of textures created by mixing pasta and two kinds of rice, but you could just use 2 cups of any one type of rice. If using only brown rice, though, cooking time will be a couple minutes longer. Washing the rice is optional, but if you do, drain well.
This pilaf can also be made vegan by switching the butter for olive oil and the beef base for vegetable base.
Consider this also as a day-after dish, as you can throw in any vegetable leftovers.
MUSHROOM RICE PILAF
By Betty Shimabukuro
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1/2 cup brown rice
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 2 cups sliced white or cremini mushrooms
- 4 teaspoons beef base (see note)
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
Using saute function, melt butter. Add pasta and rice, stir until lightly browned and well coated.
Add onions; stir until softened. Stir in celery and mushrooms.
Stir beef base into water until dissolved; stir into multicooker. Cancel saute function. Seal lid and pressure-cook on high 5 to 7 minutes.
Let pressure release 3 minutes. Stir in peas and top with toasted almonds. Serves 10.
>> NOTE: Beef base is similar to bouillon but in paste form. Find in the soup aisle. A popular brand is Better Than Bouillon.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 190 calories, 8 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 5 g protein.
PLAN TO make two of these pans of mochiko cornbread — the first because it’s delicious, moist and bouncy, like a mochi hybrid; and the second because making two uses up a can each of coconut milk and cream-style corn (you’ll actually be short a little on the coconut milk, so make up the difference with regular milk or even water).
By Betty Shimabukuro
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup mochiko
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar (up to 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 3/4 cup canned cream-style corn
Place trivet or a coil of foil into multicooker. Add 1 cup water. Lightly grease 7- or 8-inch round baking pan, casserole dish or springform pan (at least 2 inches high).
Whisk together cornmeal, mochiko, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs into milk; add butter and whisk until well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet; stir until incorporated, then fold in corn. Pour into prepared pan; tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Cover pan with foil, then place on trivet in multicooker. Seal lid; pressure-cook on high 45 minutes.
Let pressure release 10 minutes, then open lid and remove pan (be careful of steam and hot water that collects on top of foil). Peel back foil and check center of bread. It should be firm. If undercooked, re-cover pan and return to cooker for another 5 minutes, with 10 minutes of natural release at the end.
Let cool slightly in pan on rack, then loosen sides with butter knife and remove from pan to a plate (or serve straight out of the pan). Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving (based on 1/4 cup sugar): 320 calories, 15 g total fat, 10 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 650 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 5 g protein
MAKE THIS sauce ahead of time and just take it out of the fridge on T-day. It’s a tart sauce, far superior to anything you can get out of a can. If you prefer something sweeter, use up to 1 cup of sugar.
RED WINE CRANBERRY SAUCE
By Betty Shimabukuro
- Segments from 1 orange
- 12-ounce package cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup red wine (something bold and dry, like zinfandel)
- 1 stick cinnamon
Remove membrane from orange segments and break in half. Combine with other ingredients in multicooker; seal lid. Pressure-cook on high 2 minutes. Let pressure release 10 minutes.
Open lid. Switch to saute setting and stir, 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture thickens and berries break up (sauce will thicken more as it cools). Chill (if sauce ends up too tart, stir in some honey). Makes about 1 cup.
Approximate nutritional information, per servin: 180 calories, no fat or cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 30 g sugar, 1 g protein.
THIS NEXT recipe can be used with many types of vegetables or potatoes to create an easy gratin with a cheesy top. The Brussels sprouts essentially steam in the multicooker. If you have a free stovetop burner, you could complete the dish in a skillet, where you’ll have more space to brown the sprouts and saute your garlic and onions.
LEMON-GARLIC BRUSSELS SPROUTS
By Betty Shimabukuro
- 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cut in half
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup diced onions
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place trivet or coil of foil in multicooker. Pour in 1 cup water.
Place Brussels sprouts in steamer basket and lower onto trivet in cooker. Seal lid and pressure-cook on high 5-7 minutes.
Quick-release pressure and open lid. Lift out steamer basket; drain sprouts. Empty cooker and wipe dry.
Using cooker’s saute function on high, heat half the oil. Add Brussels sprouts and saute until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove to serving dish.
Add remaining oil to cooker. Saute garlic and onions until fragrant and turning color. Add to sprouts.
Toss with salt, pepper and lemon juice; taste and adjust seasonings, then top with cheese. Serves 10.
>> Pump it up: Add 1/2 pound bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces, when sauteeing the onions and garlic. Cook until crisp.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 100 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 4 g protein.
DON’T LIKE BRUSSELS?
Follow the recipe, but replace the sprouts with other vegetables or potatoes. Be sure to quick-release the pressure, or veggies will fall to pieces:
>> Broccoli and/or cauliflower: 1 pound florets, pressure-cook 3 minutes
>> Green beans: 1 pound, pressure- cook 2 minutes
>> Potatoes: 2 pounds baby potatoes, pressure-cook 6 to 8 minutes
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