I don’t use my InstantPot as often as I should. I break it out once a week or two, usually for chicken stock from my leftover bones. I’ve had it for a couple of years now, kind of buying it just to see what all the fuss was about – but being pleasantly surprised by the power it wielded. The saute function has quite a  bit of gumption, and you can get a pretty decent sear on a hunk of meat.

Searing your proteins in the same pan you cook your dish in yields a TON of flavor, that goes right back into whatever it is you’re making. In this case it made for one of the most incredible pan sauces I’ve had in my life. That’s another nice perk too – you can thicken your sauce right in the same pan as well. Who doesn’t love one less dish to wash?

I’d pinned this method for a cheap, lean cut of beef in the Instant Pot a couple of years ago. Scoffing at the idea that a rare roast could be attained in a pressure cooker! It got buried in my pins, and hadn’t given it a thought until I came across a nice sirloin roast marked down at my grocery store last week. For $9 I figured I could take a gamble…

Made it at lunchtime one day, thinking I could just slice it and use it for roast beef sandwiches for lunches. It ended up turning out so good we ate it for dinner, popping it in the oven for a few minutes to reheat. Everyone loved it. And it really couldn’t be any easier or more foolproof.

A quick sear on all sides. A few additions of onions, garlic, and spices. Beef broth. Then cook under pressure for 3 minutes, and let the pressure release naturally for 30 minutes. I then added some red wine to the pan drippings, along with a little cornstarch to thicken. Served it over the thinly sliced beef along with some roasted reds and asparagus. One of the best meals we’ve had in a long time! It was honestly just as good as prime rib, for about one quarter of the price and time involved in preparing it.

I used a 3 pound roast, and it was the perfect hair scant of medium-rare. If you want your roast more well done, or it’s larger – you can continue cooking by recovering and keeping InstantPot on warm for more time. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, get one. They’re cheap and are worth their weight in gold when it comes to worrying about the doneness of things.

So, this sous-vide thing…have you heard of it? Yes? No? Maybe? When asked to describe it, I tell people that I like to think of it as a really bad ass Crockpot. Basically, you season your cut of beef and then vaccum seal it – it’s then plopped in a water bath held at a precise temperature by the doohickey called the immersion circulator. So, the item comes to just the perfect temperature for whatever it is…then, is held there until you’re ready to serve it.

I first learned of this method of preparation years ago, back in my religious watching of Top Chef days. Back then, this method of “cooking” was reserved for fancy chefs in fancy kitchens…as the apparatus required was super expensive.

Well, times they are a changin’ – and you can get a pretty decent model for $100 on Amazon, if you keep your eyes peeled for a sale. They’re about the size of a large curling iron, so are convenient for storage sakes. And then for the water bath, all you need is a large stockpot. It clips right to the side – bada bing!

And time isn’t an issue. In fact, tough cuts like this eye of round benefit from a long cook cycle. I did this one for 24 hours. The connective tissue has time to break down, creating a roast that can be cut with a fork…but the roast still stays rare. It’s really quite mind-blowing.

After it’s soaked for the appropriate amount of time, a quick sear in a raging hot cast iron skillet is in order. I’ve also turned to my trusty kitchen torch, which is always handy in the kitchen. The grill is also an option – but again, just make sure it’s REALLY hot. Just a couple of minutes on each side, to give  it a little color.

I like doing large roasts, like this entire eye of the round – or a pork loin. We’ll enjoy it for dinner one night…then reinvent the leftovers all week in different dishes. Perfect for this time of year when we’re scooting out the door to baseball practice or some other obligation that fills the schedule up every week!

So, if you’re on the fence about one – I say do it! I got mine a couple of Christmases ago, and have just really gotten into using it in the past couple of months. It really is so versatile. I don’t even want to tell you what it can do for a poached egg. Life changing.

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Raising three little boys, quick economical meals are something that are a constant around here. We love tacos, and my version of a homemade Hamburger Helper is always a hit, and who could forget spaghetti? But on this particular evening that I’d taken out some ground beef, I wasn’t feeling any of those options.

I decided to whip up a from-scratch version of the classic Manwich sauce in a can, and made homemade Sloppy Joes. They took just a few minutes to throw together, out of ingredients that I usually always have on hand. A little bit of tang and a little bit of sweetness to the sauce hits all the right spots on the flavor scale, everyone really enjoyed them!

I think this would be a great option for a cookout instead of burgers. The beef could easily be mixed up and kept warm in a slow cooker for serving. I kept it simple and served with some potato chips and my favorite coleslaw.  In fact, I put a spot of coleslaw on my sandwich. Don’t knock it till you try it!

Source: adapted from Allrecipes

Garlic Herb Salt

Back at Christmas time I bought an insane amount of pre-peeled garlic due to poor grocery shopping planning, and needed something to do with it. I’d remembered a recipe they’d talked about on The Splendid Table a while back for homemade seasoned salt using fresh garlic, and decided that since I had a plethora of the stuff that I needed something to do with…this was the perfect opportunity to try out said recipe.

You guys, it’s been pretty much the only seasoning I’ve used since then – save chili powder and cumin. Not a meal goes by that I don’t find myself dipping into the stuff. I keep a mason jar curing of it at all times, just because it’s so perfect to use on everything – any protein under the sun, to any vegetable or starch you can throw at it! It really heightens the flavor of whatever it is you use it on, without overwhelming it…which many store-bought seasoning blends tend to do!

I roasted the garlic first – to intensify and deepen the flavors. Then, toss it into bunch of salt along with some freshly chopped herbs. Any mix of your favorite will do – I’ve been using rosemary and thyme recently, just because it’s been pretty readily available during the cold months.

However now that it’s warming up and I’m starting to think about my herb garden – I’m looking forward to experimenting with different blends of herbs this season. I also think that bit of citrus zest would also be a welcome addition to the party! Or maybe a smidge of lavender for an Herbes de Provance twist? Have fun with it, you can’t mess this one up!

Source: adapted from The Splendid Table