Liquid Gold

Oh, kitchen appliances, we love you so.

Some are keepers for life (I’m talking to you, Kitchen Aid stand mixer) and others are keepers in the garage (we do use the bread machine once or twice a year, and the vacuum sealer is essential for annual fish processing).  Other gadgets were donated long ago, such as George Foreman’s countertop rotisserie that should have been named “no room left on your countertop” rotisserie.

Last year a new category of appliance was born:  keep, and worship.  It all started when I got Clark an Instant Pot for Christmas in 2017.  I wanted one sooooo badly and this seemed the best way to ensure it would make its way under the tree.

Instant Pots are electric pressure cookers, and a game changer in our kitchen.  The old school pressure cooker from my childhood had a rattling top that hissed and spewed steam, but I trusted my parents and enjoyed the tender pot roasts and flavor infused potatoes.  As an adult I bought one from Ace Hardware,  but never quite conquered my fear of using it.  The Instant Pot had a small learning curve, but it isn’t nearly as intimidating.

Two of our family’s Instant Pot favorites are Zuppa Toscana soup and teriyaki chicken (although I just throw in frozen thighs and shred them when it’s done).  My mom and I even successfully made this cheesecake in it last summer!  We didn’t decorate it up much, but trust me it was dangerously divine.

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Last weekend I made homemade chicken stock in our Instant Pot, and I was both thrilled and shocked with the results.  We’ve been making homemade chicken soup for years, and it is one of the kids’ favorite recipes.  They both know how to make perfect egg noodles from scratch – here are photos of Maggie from this week, or flashback here to Sam making them as a 9-year-old!

This soup is pretty healthy other than the sodium content, because we add a fair amount of Better Than Bouillon chicken base to enhance the flavor.  I’ve tried everything from boiling the soup with a whole chicken to pureeing some of the veggies to add flavor to the stock without needing bouillon, but haven’t had much luck.

Enter the Instant Pot, and the easiest ever liquid gold that can be used as bouillon-free stock for our soup!  Game changer!

Here’s how I made the chicken stock – we have the 8 quart Instant Pot:

2 chicken carcasses (Costco rotisserie chickens, including drippings from the pan)
2 quartered yellow onions, with skins
4 carrots, cut in large pieces
4 celery ribs, including the leafy tops
1 tsp kosher salt
a few peppercorns
a few cloves of garlic
a few bay leaves
a splash of apple cider vinegar (it supposedly helps release the minerals from the bones)

Put all ingredients in pot, and fill with water to max fill line.  Cook on high pressure for 2 hours, and do a natural release (which took another hour).  Strain.  I’ve read that it can keep a few days in the fridge, and up to a year in the freezer.  I froze it in the mason jars, leaving some room for expansion of course.

I made the kids chicken and rice soup with the first batch of stock, and was ecstatic when they declared it didn’t need one ounce of bouillon!  Success!

I’ve since tried using a whole raw chicken by removing and deboning the meat part way through the process, and then returning the carcass to the Instant Pot to finish the stock.  It turned out very fatty and I had to chill it overnight to skim the fat, but it did turn out just as well.

Lots to learn, lots to experiment with, and lots of fun with this kitchen gadget!

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