Instant Pot can make great meals … and Christmas presents

Many stores have already stocked their shelves with appliances for Christmas giving. The Instant Pot is front and centre for a second year.

Before buying any appliance, consider how much use it will receive in your kitchen. Also, consider the space it takes either on your countertop or in a cupboard. If space is limited and basement storage is required, then it will likely be used less often.

Consumer Reports is a subscription service that shares research done on various brands of kitchen and home appliances. Each brand is tested and rated on several factors, including whether it does the job it is intended for, how long it will work before it wears out, how easy it is to use and clean and price comparisons on all the brands tested.

Check the appliance warranty and guarantees and read all the fine print before buying.

A guarantee is an agreement from the manufacturer confirming that the manufacturer will repair or replace an item if something goes wrong within a certain amount of time after you buy it.

Always check the terms and conditions of the guarantee. For example, you may need to register the guarantee with the manufacturer in order to activate it. Unless you are told otherwise when you bought the item, deal directly with the business you bought the item from if you need to return it under the guarantee.

Find out exactly what is covered by the guarantee. For example, with electrical goods, are all parts or just specific parts covered? Is labour included and is there a limit on the amount of labour covered?

When you are buying a product, the business may ask if you would like to buy an extended warranty. This is like buying an insurance policy: it covers the product beyond the manufacturer’s guarantee period.

The idea of a warranty is that you won’t have to pay for repairs if the item breaks or becomes faulty within the warranty period. Before you agree to buy a warranty, consider the cost of replacing the faulty appliance to the cost of the warranty. It may not be worth spending the money now.

Along with reading the guarantees and warranties, ask about the return policy of the store where you are making the purchase. It is an especially good idea to be aware of the return policy when purchasing a gift for someone else. For this reason, online shopping may not be the way to go. Usually you have to return the item to the same store it was purchased from for a refund or replacement.

Balsamic beef short ribs

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 15 mL
  • 8 bone-in short ribs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground
  • black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 14 1/2 oz. can crushed
  • tomatoes 450 mL
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. water 125 mL
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 lb. whole baby potatoes 500 g
  • 3 tbsp. chopped flat
  • leaf parsley 45 g
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest 5 g

Turn Instant Pot on to saute. Heat olive oil. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Brown them in the pot in batches, if necessary. Transfer to a plate.

Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, vinegar, water, thyme and bay leaves.

Nestle sort ribs and onion into the sauce and place potatoes on top. Press cancel. Lock the lid. Press manual and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Use the quick release to vent the steam and then open the lid.

Serve immediately. Garnish with parsley and lemon zest. Adapted from Instant Pot Cookbook by Sara Quessenberry & Kate Merker.

Mexican black bean soup

Most instant pot recipes I found that used dried beans suggested soaking them overnight. I didn’t find this particularly fast. This recipe uses dried black beans without soaking.

  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 15 mL
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper 2 mL
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano 5 mL
  • 1 c. dried black beans 250 mL
  • 1 small pork hock
  • 5 c. chicken stock 1.25 L
  • 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar 30 mL
  • green onions, sliced
  • sour cream

Finely chop cilantro stems. Turn Instant Pot on to saute. Heat olive oil, add onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, oregano and cilantro stems and cook for one minute.

Add beans and stock. Press cancel. Lock the lid. Press pressure cook and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Use the natural release. Open the lid when no more steam is coming out. Stir in vinegar.

Garnish with sour cream and sliced green onions. Adapted from Instant Pot Cookbook by Sara Quessenberry & Kate Merker.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

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