Under pressure

Pressure cooker makes Dijon chicken an easy Sunday recipe

This April 9 photo shows instant Dijon chicken in Bethesda, Md. This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d'Arabian. (AP photo)

By MELISSA D’ARABIAN

Associated Press

Not a day goes by that I don’t get a recipe request or question about the Instant Pot. So, dear readers, today is the day for my starter recipe for you Instant Pot (Multi-Pot, etc.) fans.

I’ll start by pointing out that we are really talking about here is an automated, easy-to-use electric pressure cooker. I hear a collective sigh of recognition from a whole generation of home-cooks who have relied on a pressure cooker for years to deliver stews, chilis and braises to their families in quick order.

But for the rest of us who were freaked out by managing the pressure on the stovetop ourselves, fearing exploding hot liquids or bursts of scalding steam, an automated pressure cooker welcomes us into the fold. Cooking under high pressure speeds up the process quite a bit, meaning you can have tender braised meat in minutes instead of hours, which can be a boon for weeknight meals.

In case you decide to get an electric pressure cooker, here are a few tips. First, read the entire manual before you start cooking anything. Even if you are one to put an entire Ikea living room set together with nary a glance at the instructions, read the manual. It will explain how the cooker works, and give you step-by-step operating instructions.

My second tip is to start with something easy that can’t be overcooked: stock or bone broth, for example. Load up the pressure cooker with bones and a few hunks of onion and celery, cover with water (don’t overfill), and set the timed cooker (exactly how long is in – you guessed it – your manual – see it’s paying off already!).

Next tip: Use less liquid than you would use stovetop as evaporation is eliminated, and don’t overcook. High pressure means you can’t easily open the lid to check on food’s progress and texture as you would with a typical stovetop braise. Be extra aware of the possibility of overcooking if you are cooking tougher meat with tender vegetables.

Finally, be aware that “instant” is a bit of a misnomer. While “cook time” in any recipe is relatively short – today’s recipe for Instant Dijon Chicken only “cooks” for 10 minutes – don’t forget to add the time it takes to come to pressure (about 5-15 minutes) plus time for pressure release, if you aren’t manually releasing the pressure (which I don’t recommend for a newbie). Just in case any of you thought that dinner would be done in an actual instant.

INSTANT DIJON CHICKEN

Servings: 6

Start to finish: 40 minutes

≤ 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

≤ 1/4 cup dry white wine

≤ 2 teaspoons dried tarragon (or 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped)

≤ 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped, about 3/4 cup

≤ 4 garlic cloves, minced

≤ 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

≤ 1/2 pound white button mushrooms, wiped clean and halved

≤ 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

≤ 1/4 cup Dijon mustard

≤Additional tarragon or chopped parsley for garnish, optional

≤ Salt and pepper

Special equipment: Electric Pressure Cooker (such as Instant Pot or Multi-Pot)

Spray the inside of an electric pressure cooker with an olive oil mister for easy cleanup. Place the canned diced tomatoes, wine, tarragon and garlic at the bottom of the pot and stir with a wooden spoon to blend. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and cut each thigh twice (into three pieces), and place on top of the tomato mixture. Place the halved mushrooms and cut carrot pieces on top of the chicken. Place the lid on, secure, and close the pressure valve. Set the timer to 10 minutes at high pressure.

Once the cooking is done, allow the pressure cooker to sit for 10 minutes, allowing the pressure to release slowly (without moving the valve). Then, carefully turn the pressure valve to open, releasing any remaining pressure. (Note: it will take 8-10 minutes for the cooker to come to pressure, plus 10 minutes of cooking time, plus the release time, so total cooking time will be near 30 minutes.) Spoon about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid into a small bowl and whisk in the Dijon mustard until creamy. Whisk the mustard mixture into the pot of cooked chicken.

Top with parsley or additional tarragon, if desired. Serve with cooked cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, quinoa or brown rice.

Chef’s Note: The dish can be made in a conventional pot on a stove. Simmer, covered, on low heat until meat is tender, about 60-75 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving: 246 calories; 57 calories from fat; 6 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 142 mg cholesterol; 941 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 32 g protein.