When you hear the phrase, “an abundance of riches,” what does it mean to you? My family are the riches that come to my mind right away, followed closely by the continued good health of those I love, a comfortable life, the ability to contribute significantly to my own support, my independence — it’s a long and varied list, when I really start to think about it.
Nowhere at the forefront of my mind is the accumulation of “things.” Not that it isn’t OK to have things around you that please your eye and satisfy your soul on some level. But having possessions just so one can feel like the chicken who laid the biggest egg reminds me of another phrase — “an embarrassment of riches.”
This is fine so far. However, as the years become decades (a good thing for me), a cook accumulates gadgets, small labor saving appliances, and odds and ends as they come on the market. The kitchen niche, after all, is useful when deciding “what to get Linda for her birthday, Christmas, Groundhog Day, you name it.
This situation has resulted in some delightful surprises which then accumulates over the years until pantries are full, counter space disappears, drawers are stuffed, and you sometimes can’t find a gadget to use it. (Is this how auctions get started?)
With all that in mind, I still occasionally see a kitchen device, such as the one my daughter Jenny received for Christmas, that I covet. It’s called an Instant Pot. I think she’s used it every day since she took it out of the box. She showed it to me the other day, and now I want one and I will find the counter space for it.
The Instant Pot is about the size of a large crockpot and I think it does everything but the Mexican Hat Dance right there on your kitchen counter. It is electric. It has buttons to press to saute or steam food. It functions like a crockpot. And, best of all, it’s a pressure cooker with a removable bowl.
I’ve seen them advertised at different places starting around $80. With more bells and whistles, they go for well over $100. And they really do all that stuff. I’m sure you can get similar results with different tried and true cooking methods, but the Instant Pot cuts cooking time drastically, which really appeals to me after a day at work.
Here’s a recipe Jenny tried that her family will welcome again soon (check out the cooking time).
INSTANT POT BUTTER CHICKEN
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Garam Masala, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 ounces butter
4 ounces heavy cream
chopped cilantro for garnish
Place first nine ingredients (only 1 teaspoon Garam Masala) into pot. Stir to mix well. Add chicken thighs, press into sauce.
Press the manual button, set timer for 10 minutes. Cover, lock top, and let the pot do its thing.
After cooking is done, allow the pot to cool for another 10 minutes. Release pressure and open pot.
Remove chicken, cool slightly and cut into chunks. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce. Stir in butter, cream and the remaining teaspoon of Garam Masala.
Stir chicken chunks into sauce and serve.
Serves four to six.
You can get similar results with a crockpot on low cooking time for seven hours. Use a regular blender to puree sauce.
Garam Masala is an Indian spice mixture that can be found at large grocery stores in the spice section, or at specialty stores.
Jenny suggests that if the recipe calls for an aromatic ingredient you don’t like just leave it out. You can also cut down amounts of the aromatics if the taste is too strong for you.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at email@example.com.