Last night my Instant Pot taught me a few lessons. I am always up for learning new things when in the Ponderosa kitchen. My Instant Pot is such a new way for me to cook. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in the scary age of pressure cookers. I was sharing on Tuesday with my hair magician, Gary, about my new Instant Pot and the scary olden days. He laughed and shared that no kids were allowed in the kitchen when his mom was using the pressure cooker. The old style pressure cookers offered options that weren’t put in the description. Things like decorate your ceiling with tomato sauce or steam clean the cabinets, could go off like 3 mile island. Things have changed in the world of pressure cookers. There are still the big bad scary ones, however, there are much safer ones now.
For dinner last night I opted to put on the menu Mongolian Beef al la Elizabeth. One thing you will learn about me is that I peruse several recipes and then combine some things from each and add my spin to it.
It starts with slicing flank steak into 1/4″ strips. I took my flank steak and cutting against the grain I cut it into 3 sections. Then cutting with the grain on those sections I cut 3 more smaller sections. Last, I cut against the grain on each of those smaller pieces to get the 1/4″ strips. It calls for 2 pounds of flank steak. Flank steak is not the cheapest meat out there, but worth the money. I purchased mine at Sam’s where I got 2 big ones for $20. I had a bowl full of meat when I was done.
Then I added salt and pepper to the meat and about 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch to help with thickening the sauce. I mixed it around to get the lovin’ on all the pieces and then added 1 cup of shredded carrots and sliced up 1 onion. Those were Elizabeth add ins.
Next comes the sauce that this mixture is going to cook in. Here’s where it really starts smelling good in the Ponderosa Kitchen. Add the ingredients listed for the sauce right into the Instant Pot. The sauce contains 4 cloves of garlic, pressed, 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of grated ginger. (I keep an “antler” of ginger in a ziplock bag in the freezer. I then pull it out and unpeeled grate it on a zester. That saves time and keeps the ginger fresh.)
Add the beef mixture on top of sauce in the Instant Pot and then stir to coat the beef and veggies. That is a pot full of goodness, I promise! Add the top to the Instant Pot and cook for 14 minutes. But wait don’t really here’s one of my lessons I learned.
First lesson I learned is that just because it looks like a TON of beef doesn’t mean it will be a TON of beef when done. The pressure cooker shrinks it. Lesson #2, I learned 14 minutes was too long in the sense of the meat really fell apart. So if you like your meat like that, 14 minutes is spot on. If you want your beef strips to have the look of beef strips I am going to say 10-12 minutes should do it. Things cook FAST in a pressure cooker. I did let the pot naturally release and that took another 20 minutes.
See how the meat has kind of fallen a part?
My sauce was still kind of loose so I turned on the saute feature. Mixed together 2Tablespoons of cornstarch to 3 Tablespoons of water and added it in the pot. Let it come to a rolling boil and your sauce will thicken. Keep stirring it so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Then I turned off the Instant Pot. I also added some steamed broccoli to mine to give it some green and encourage the kids to eat more veggies. It did not work. They wanted meat and sauce. We served it over rice .
So that wraps up Lessons learned via Instant Pot. Don’t let your Instant Pot intimidate you. Take it out of the box and start using it. One other lesson I would like to share is that when cooking with it your cooking time may be 20 minutes but that does not include the time to get the pressure up or the time to let it release. So when figuring out how long it will take to get dinner on the table, don’t forget the pressure up and down time.
From the Ponderosa Kitchen to you,
Elizabeth ~Queen of the Ponderosa Kitchen