When it comes to Thanksgiving, most of us are looking for a way to make things faster and easier. Enter the Instant Pot or its electric multicooker cousins.
The kitchen device that has recently taken America by storm is not just good for weeknight one-pot soups or stews. It is also an invaluable tool for preparing what can be an intimidating celebratory feast.
Because it sautes, steams and cooks under pressure, the appliance can handle just about anything in the Thanksgiving kitchen. It also can be used as a shortcut for prep work — producing rich and flavorful turkey stock, for example, and speedily softening hard cubes of butternut squash for a gratin. It braises tough winter vegetables in minutes, transforming them into spectacular sides such as sweet and tangy red cabbage with apples and chestnuts, and silky celery root puree.
Its hot and steamy environment lends itself to producing custardy desserts such as pumpkin creme brulee, without the mess and fuss of a traditional hot-water bath in the oven. You can even use the multicooker to prepare your festive bird — and both light and dark meat will be succulent and tender.
About that bird: It does not go into the pot whole, so sharpen your butcher skills or come home from the store with turkey legs, thighs, wings and bone-in breast halves. A six-quart multicooker can handle the parts from a bird that weighs up to 13 pounds.
Is the multicooker a miracle worker? Will it allow you to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in an instant — or, say, an hour? Alas, no. The multicooker can, however, significantly shorten your prep work. I recommend starting to prepare your Instant Pot dishes one or two days ahead of time, then reheat them on the big day. And, most useful to the novice or less-than-confident home cook, the appliance offers quick and reliable results.
To help you get started, here’s a simple menu of recipes , and a timeline:
Two days before Thanksgiving Day
●For my Instant Pot Thanksgiving Turkey, rub the turkey breast, legs and thighs with the dry-rub mixture.
●If desired, make turkey stock with the remaining wings and carcass. Make the pureed squash for the Winter Squash Gratin.
●Make the Celery Root Puree.
The day before
●Braise the turkey legs and thighs.
●Cook the red cabbage.
●Make the Pumpkin Creme Brulees (minus their final sugar topping).
The day of
● Finish the Winter Squash Gratin (the casserole goes in the oven).
● Make the turkey breast; while it’s cooking, reheat the turkey legs and thighs in their braising liquid on the stove top. When the turkey breast has finished in the multicooker, broil it on the same baking sheet as the turkey legs and thighs.
● While the meat is resting (before you carve up the pieces), reheat the red cabbage and celery root puree on the stove top.
● Make gravy with the leftover braising liquid.
● Just before dessert, add the sugar topping to the pumpkin creme brulees, broil and serve them right away.
Last year, I cooked my Thanksgiving turkey in the Instant Pot. This year, I’m going for the whole meal. A dinner cooked with ease and speed is one more thing to be thankful for.
Mah is a Washington author, most recently, of “Instantly French! Classic French Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018).
We used a 6-quart multicooker/electric pressure cooker, on saute and then pressure cooker functions.
MAKE AHEAD: The turkey needs to be dry-brined for at least 8 hours, and up to 2 days. The turkey legs, thighs and wings can be cooked, cooled and refrigerated in their braising liquid up to 3 days in advance. Reheat, covered, until thoroughly warmed, before broiling.
Adapted from Ann Mah, author of “Instantly French! Classic Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker” (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018).
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
One 10-to-12 pound turkey, cut into legs, thighs, wings and breast halves, patted dry (wing tips removed; see headnote)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
¾ cup dry white wine
2½ cups turkey stock or chicken broth, preferably no-salt-added
2 stems fresh rosemary
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Combine the salt and brown sugar in a small bowl. Rub the turkey parts all over with the salt mixture and transfer them to a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, and up to 2 days.
Remove the turkey parts from the bag and pat dry.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the multicooker using the saute function. Working in batches as needed, cook the legs, thighs and wings for 7 to 9 minutes, using tongs to turn them for even browning. Transfer to a plate.
Add a ½ cup of the wine to the pot, then use a wooden spatula to dislodge any browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine has almost fully evaporated, then add 1½ cups of the stock or broth and 1 rosemary stem. Return the turkey legs, wings and thighs to the pot, nestling them into the liquid. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
Once the turkey has finished cooking, manually release the steam. Place the turkey legs, thighs and wings skin sides up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Strain the braising liquid and reserve it for gravy or just for serving, if desired. Cover loosely with foil.
Rinse and dry the inner pot of the pressure cooker. Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pot, using the saute function. Place the turkey breast halves skin sides down in the pot; Cook for 7 to 9 minutes, lightly browning them on all sides. Use tongs to carefully transfer them to a large plate.
Add the onion to the pot; cook for about 3 minutes (saute function), until softened, then add the remaining ¼ cup of wine and repeat that dislodging/deglazing process of scraping browned bits in the bottom of the pot. Cook until the wine has almost fully evaporated.
Add the remaining cup of stock or broth to the pot and the remaining rosemary stem, stirring to combine. Return the turkey breast halves to the pot skin sides up, along with any juices from the plate. Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.
Once the breast halves have finished cooking, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release the steam. Meanwhile, position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler.
Carefully transfer the breast halves to the baking sheet with the thighs, legs and wings, all skin sides up. Brush the turkey pieces generously with melted butter and broil for about 5 minutes, until the skin is golden brown.
Serve warm, drizzled with the strained pan juices, if desired.
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