Sunday, December 31, 2017

Instant Pot Recipe #1: Arroz Con Pollo

Sooo, here we go! Recipe #1 of my Instant Pot Challenge 
(I couldn't wait until 2018 and add yet another thing to my long list of "New Years Resolutions" so I've been getting a head start on this while on "light life duty" this past week :)

Category: Weekend Meal
(This took more time than I'd like to admit... maybe a little over an hour from prep to serve? I'll try to remember to track the time better next round.)

My biggest savings (and headache) is that most often we purchase our meat in bulk. We normally rotate purchases each week between chicken thighs, chicken breasts and ground beef. Although, we do have a few steaks in the freezer as well. But all of this frozen meat requires planning! And one of the things I was looking forward to with the InstaPot was to be able to throw frozen meat into the pot with all my other ingredients and close the lid.

This isn't the recipe for that... but I did have a big package of chicken thighs sitting in the fridge that needed to be cooked and the rest frozen. And I had an itching for a little latin cuisine so Brad took a stab at Arroz Con Pollo.

Does this recipe really count for my InstaPot Challenge if Brad cooked it? I am making up the rules as I go along so I'm going to stay it counts. Because well, I took the pictures and I was busy cleaning the house (it has been spring cleaning around here all week).

I borrowed and adapted the recipe from: A Pinch of Healthy

For starters... we used bone-in chicken thighs.

I seasoned the chicken thighs generously with garlic powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and Goya's Cilantro & Achiote (I don't necessarily recommend purchasing from Amazon, but for visual purposes I included the link). My parents always have this Goya seasoning on hand and I feel like they put it on everything. Don't be alarmed, it does tend to make your food look a little orange... ha.

Then, Brad set the InstaPot to Sauté Setting, added the 1 Tbsp of oil and waited a minute for it to warm up. He tossed the chicken thighs in there and started searing. He seared for about 5 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other.

PS - The thing I love about chicken thighs is that they are so hard to overcook because of how juicy the dark meat is? Brad reminds me of this occasionally when I used to cook them on the cast iron skillet and then throw the pan in the oven. It really is hard to "dry out" chicken thighs and with chicken breasts it feels like that can happen so quickly! Even those Meat Temperature things always say how tender the legs or thighs get with higher temps.

After the searing of the thighs, he took them out and placed them on a plate. Then he got started on sautéing the veggies. The recipe I followed suggests to add 1/3 cup of chicken broth to deglaze the pan and scrape the sticky stuff with a wooden spoon. Brad normally follows the instructions so I am going to trust that he did this step (it literally says do not skip this step :)).

In true Brad fashion, he was well prepared for this meal and cut up all the veggies before he even started cooking. He also had the rice rinsed and sitting on the side of the sink before he started cooking. I share this tip because I'll also go ahead and admit that I am normally not this prepared in the kitchen. I am usually trying to cut up veggies, watch something sear over open fire, rinsing rice and helping Joanna open PlayDoh... all at the same time. And while that strategy works well in my everyday life (where I am striving for several goals within a 24hr or weekly period), it doesn't work well in the kitchen when you are trying to cook something in 1hr. The majority of my stress probably comes because I don't read the recipe FIRST, and get all my ingredients chopped, spices out and measuring utensils too. But everyone has areas of their life that require improvement, right? :)

Moving on...
After the sauté of the veggies, he added the remainder of the chicken broth, the rinsed rice and some salt and pepper. He put the chicken thighs back in the pot, on top of the mixture, put the lid on the pot, locked it (you just turn it to the lock position) and then set the valve to "Sealing". He also changed the setting to Pressure Cook and set the timer for 10 min.

So the cool thing (cool to me) about this pot or really any pressure cooker, is that it LITERALLY keeps all the liquids inside the pot and contains all the pressure. I know you're probably thinking... "duh Steph, it's a pressure cooker" and it should be obvious that its main purpose is to do this. BUT... I didn't really think about the semantics of what *Pressure Cooker* really meant when I started down this journey. And honestly, I probably have no sincere interest for learning new things in the kitchen... besides feeding my child anything other than microwave Velveeta macaroni, steamed broccoli and KidFresh fish sticks - which by the way are pretty darn good :)

The one ingredient that we didn't have on hand that probably would have just made this dish that much better was some Spanish Olives. My dad cooks with this stuff and it makes all of the rice dishes better. I immediately added this to my grocery list and BAM, now I have some Goya Manzanilla Olives in my pantry, waiting for this dish to be made again. All of the other ingredients, I easily had on hand.

After the 10min timer was up... we turned it off. I believe the pot just goes into Natural Pressure Release (NPR) mode, which just means that the pressure begins releasing by itself and you need to wait for it to all release... vs, manually moving the little valve to "Venting". This NPR thing took about 20 minutes. At first the rice mixture looked a little too liquidy for our liking, so we put the lid back on and added another 5 min to the timer using the Pressure Cook setting again.  (PS recipe instructions below indicate to just cook with pressure for 15 minutes, you'll thank us later)

We still thought it looked a little liquidy but we were pretty hungry by this point so we just went with it. And then I forgot that this dish is naturally more moist than just your normal pot of rice... DUH. It's more like a casserole consistency and we just let it sit while I took out the chicken thighs to shred them.

Joanna was pretty antsy by now and I had finished cleaning the floors so her and I came back to the kitchen. She was sitting on the kitchen island literally eating the chicken shreds just as fast as I could get it cut up and back in the pot. Have you ever made a toddler wait for their food while they are hungry? Yeah, not a good idea. Needless to say, she probably ate about half a chicken thigh and by the time we served her dinner, she ate about 4 bites of her rice.

Short tangent, unrelated to this recipe:
I have this recent revelation that as long as my child isn't eating cereal for dinner (which we literally just survived a 2-3 week period where all she did was ask for Fruit Loops, Mini Wheats or Honey Nut Cheerios for dinner)... then I am doing a decent job. So, this night she ate half a chicken thigh, 4 bites of rice and then later we had a meltdown about wanting dried-out apple slices. It was a battle (which Brad and I were determined to win) but we BOTH stood our ground and said that she needed to finish the other 4 bites of her rice if she wanted anything else to eat. After lots of tears and running back and forth between the two of us, she ate it! ...followed by the ever so promised dried-out apple slices :)

I'm going to try to avoid parenting tactics here but this is one of the first few times which Brad and I have tried to be stern with her about food. In the past (see bit above about cereal for dinner) she has manipulated us into feeding her whatever she wanted after she had already refused her dinner earlier that night. Lately, we are trying to keep her unfinished dinner on the kitchen island so when she asks for something else, we can point to her dinner and ask her to eat some of it first. Like my mother in law told me when I asked her how I would get two children to nap at the same time.... "Steph, you are the boss! Not them!".

:) :) haha, I'm trying to remember that my toddler is not the boss of me :)
Hey... this parenting this is not easy, or for the faint of heart.

Anyways, if you are still with me... here is the recipe:

Instant Pot
Arroz Con Pollo


  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • Half medium onion, diced
  • 4-5 sweet baby peppers, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1.5 cups rice rinsed and drained (DO NOT skip the rinsing. Rice will scorch if not rinsed.)
  • 1.5 cups of chicken broth
  • Season chicken thighs to taste with: garlic powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and Goya's Cilantro & Achiote
  • Half cup of Goya Manzanilla Olives, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Using the sauté setting, preheat on normal for 1.5 minutes
  2. Generously season your chicken thighs with garlic powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and Goya's Cilantro & Achiote
  3. Add oil and when it is "glassy looking" (as Brad would describe it), use tongs to put chicken in the pan (watch out for oil splatter!)
  4. Sear chicken thighs, 5 min on side one, season the opposite side and 3 min on side 2 (pan will be hotter)
  5. Chicken will render a little fat, but you can add a little more oil if you want to
  6. Remove and set aside chicken on a plate
  7. Add 1/3 cup broth to deglaze the pan, scrape the bits with a wooden spoon (do not skip this step!). If there are any stuck on spots, be sure and lift those away from the pan with a wooden spoon.
  8. Add onion, baby peppers, carrots, and cook for 3 minutes.
  9. Add garlic, and continue to cook for another minute.
  10. Add remaining 1 and ½ cups of chicken broth, rice, Spanish olives and stir together.
  11. Place the chicken thighs on top of the mixture.
  12. Place the lid on, and lock it, setting the valve to sealing.
  13. Cook on manual high pressure for 15 minutes, and allow the Instant Pot to release naturally (do not use the quick release lever, but let the pressure indicator lower on its own. (mine took 20 minutes, FYI)
  14. Switch the valve release, and remove the lid carefully.
  15. Use two forks to shred the chicken, add chicken back in and stir the pot.
  16. Serve immediately.

We hope you enjoy!

Brad & Steph

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