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Can I make a crockpot style stew in an instant pot? What I mean is a stew made in the instant pot, but not on the slow cooker option. If so, how do I do that? (I am not looking for a recipe, just a technique)

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    There's no difference to a crock pot and an instant pot on slow cooker mode, you'd use any slow cooker recipe, you don't need to modify anything
    – GdD
    Oct 21, 2020 at 8:20
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    Hi Burt, I am very surprised by your edit - you indicate that you don't want to use the slow cooker mode. It would be actually the preferred option for your scenario - maybe you can tell us more about why you don't want to use it, and what are your constraints and goals. Note that, if you don't want to use it as a slow cooker, the answer could end up being "there is no technique, you have to find other recipes".
    – rumtscho
    Oct 21, 2020 at 14:19
  • @rumtscho I don't want to use the slow cooker mode because of a time constraint. I want to know if there is a way to make a stew.
    – Burt
    Oct 21, 2020 at 20:46

1 Answer 1

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Yes and no.

There are some definite differences when you're cooking with a pressure cooker and a slow cooker.

First off, you need to have sufficient liquid from the beginning in a pressure cooker, so it will actually pressurize and lock shut. Typically this is about 1/4 to 1/2 cup (~60 to 120 mL), but the type of liquid matters -- you're going to want more if it's something like tomato juice, where there's a lot of sugars and dietary fiber.

There are a number of slow cooker recipes that rely on vegetables or meat giving off liquid as they cook ... those just simply won't work.

But you also have to avoid having too much liquid. Because the pressure cooker is sealed (at least on an instant pot, some others give off steam as they cook), you won't get any reduction and concentration of the liquids as it cooks. This can result in stews coming out rather soupy.

For this reason, I would recommend following a pressure cooker recipe if you can. Some will call for pulling the meat and vegetables and turning the instant pot to 'sauté' to reduce the liquid. Others will make adjustments to ingredients and seasonings, and might even throw in a cornstarch slurry to try to get the right viscosity.

As there are lots of recipes out there for any given dish, you might want to look for ones that fit your general constraints and then adjust the flavorings more like you prefer, but use the general meat / vegetable / liquid ratios from the pressure cooker recipe as-is the first time.

A few things that I've taken to doing when adapting slow cooker recipes to the instant pot:

  1. Cut up large roasts If you're supposed to brown the meat first, I do it, but I cut large roasts into two or three more manageable chunks. Then set it aside, deglaze, and pour the liquid out with the meat.

  2. Cook down vegetables that give off liquid. Like for onions, I'll cook down a base of onions until it's almost dry, then deglaze with your liquid making sure it's hot, and then pile the meat and other veg in (possibly some more onion, as that other stuff's going to almost disappear), then change it over to pressure cook.

  3. Replace tomatoes with tomato paste If a recipe calls for a can of tomatoes, tomato puree or similar, I add some tomato paste and cook it for a minute or so before one of the times when I deglaze. (Note: I'm using the US terms. In the UK, it would be replacing passata or crushed tomatoes with tomato purée)

  4. Use full salt broths. If you're not going to be reducing the liquid at the end, you don't need to worry about using 'low sodium' broth or stock, and it keeps it from coming out too flat tasting

  5. Use more garlic. Pressure cooking seems to reduce the flavor too much for my liking. I tend to increase it to 1.5 to 2 times what was called for. If that's still not enough for your liking, you can grind up a clove of garlic with some coarse salt, and stir that in at the end.

Mind you, with the deglazing, you'll lose some of the liquid, so I like to measure it out ahead of time (at least 1/2 a cup (120mL), to deal with evaporation), and then work from that when I go to deglaze ... and add all of the rest of it to bring to a boil just before I put everything back in and seal it up.

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