Paula Shoyer Rewrites Kosher Classics for the Instant Pot
When I finally received my copy of The Instant Pot® Kosher Cookbook: 100 Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul, I jumped for hungry joy. The release of the highly anticipated book was delayed for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic—during which time countless numbers of kosher cooks were spending more time than ever in their homes cooking, many of them with Instant Pots.
But the wait is over! Paula Shoyer’s collection of homey comfort classics is, indeed, an “instant” classic itself, with recipes that journey from breakfast (Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Matzah Brei Brûlée) to dinner (Whole Peruvian Chicken and Veal Osso Bucco) and dessert (Mocha Lava Cakes and Berry Compote), with stops along the way that feature salads, soups and sides. And there are plenty of Jewish-influenced standouts, whether the focus is Ashkenazi (Gefilte Loaf and Grandma’s Stuffed Cabbage), Israeli (Za’atar-Spiced Deviled Eggs and Lemon Labne Pots de Crème) or global (Moroccan Fish Stew).
Shoyer, who early in her culinary career made a name for herself as the Kosher Baker before going on to write five cookbooks and becoming a popular cooking instructor, was optimistic about the new reality that the pandemic has brought to both promoting a cookbook and connecting with her readers and followers.
“The positive thing is that I can reach so many more people virtually,” she told me. “In person, there are only so many places I can be to promote a book. Now, more people can attend events from anywhere, and some zooms have had several hundred attendees.” Shoyer added that she relishes keeping in touch with class participants and virtual event-goers through social media.
In case The Instant Pot® Kosher Cookbook is your introduction to the appliance, you should know that the countertop cooker has built up a formidable following since its debut in 2009. The contraption relies on pressure cooking to get meals on the table fast, and really took off among serious home cooks in 2017 when New York Times food writer Melissa Clark gave it a winning endorsement.
Fast-forward four years and the Instant Pot is still having a moment. In Shoyer’s cookbook, she makes a convincing case for why the Instant Pot lives up to the hype and is worthy of precious real estate in your kitchen. She extols its ability to keep foods warm, how it saves massive amounts of time in dishes that would otherwise take hours to slow cook and how it frees up time you’d normally spend over a hot stove. She also gushes about how effectively the device concentrates flavors—for instance, in homemade chicken stock—and its suitability for kosher chefs who produce elaborate Shabbat meals each week.
Any salmon fans out there? Check out Shoyer’s recipe for Poached Salmon with Mustard Dill Sauce, which she credits the Instant Pot with making the moistest fish she’s ever eaten. Even cholent, one of the Ashkenazi world’s most beloved slow-cooked delicacies, gets a rapid revision under Shoyer’s watchful, expert eye.
“The joy of cholent is the melting of the meat, beans and barley together due to the classic long cooking time,” she said. “With the Instant Pot, this delicious experience can be accomplished more quickly, in 75 minutes, and then you can set the device on the slow cook function to stay warm for shabbat lunch. So, you get the same satisfying texture, the taste of the past, your kitchen smells like shabbat, and I think the flavor is even better.”
Of special interest to me is one of Shoyer’s lighter dishes, Georgian Quinoa With Beets and Walnuts, that she created to resemble a salad we ate together when I took her on a kosher food tour of Haifa a few years ago.
Here, I’m sharing two of Shoyer’s comfort specialties: a speedy potato kugel and kosher-ified Chicken Paprikash. No pressure—but you’ll love them!
I know what you are thinking—why??!!! It was just a crazy thought, wondering if it could be done. After seeing cake recipes for the IP®, and noodle kugels, it didn’t seem so bizarre. The result is a very creamy texture. So yes, if you are making kugel for a huge crowd, you are not making it in the IP®. This recipe serves six, with a nice little wedge of kugel per person. If you know me, you know I am not a kugel chef (with two exceptions), so this is as much kugel as six people truly need. And if you’re an empty nester like me, it is perfect!
GLUTEN-FREE, PARVE, PASSOVER
HANDS-ON TIME: 5 Minutes
TIME TO PRESSURE: 5 Minutes
COOKING TIME: 40 Minutes, plus 10 Minutes to broil in oven
BUTTON TO USE: Pressure Cook
RELEASE TYPE: Quick Release
ADVANCE PREP: May be made 3 days in advance or frozen
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into quarters
2 teaspoons salt heaping 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup water
You will need a 6- or 7-inch springform pan. Trace the bottom circle on parchment paper and cut out the circle. Cover the top of the pan bottom with aluminum foil and then wrap the foil under the bottom. Attach the pan sides to the bottom and lock and then unwrap the foil and wrap up and around the sides of the pan. Wrap a second piece of foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Pour the oil into the pan. Turn to coat all sides.
Place the onions into a food processor and pulse into small pieces and then process until finely chopped. Remove to a large bowl. Add the potatoes to the processor, pulse into small pieces, and process until finely chopped, almost puréed. Remove to the bowl and add the salt, pepper, sugar, and eggs and mix well.
Pour into the pan. Place the water into the inner pot and add the steam rack. Create an aluminum sling. Place the pan on top of the sling and lower onto the rack.
Secure the lid, ensuring that the steam release handle is in the Sealing position. Press the Pressure Cook button and set the cooking time for 40 minutes. When the potato kugel cooking time is complete, turn the steam release handle to the Venting position to quickly release the pressure. Use the sides of the sling to lift the pan out.
Preheat your oven to broil. Remove the foil from the bottom and sides of the pan and place the pan onto a cookie sheet. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then serve. Remove the sides of the springform pan, separate the parchment from the foil, and move the kugel to a plate to serve.
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash
Serves 8 to 10
Although my maternal grandmother’s family was Hungarian, I never tried this wonderful chicken dish until I was an adult. The classic recipe is made with sour cream, but I use a homemade cashew cream instead. If you want to skip that step, use the canned thick coconut cream. This recipe yields a lot of sauce so serve with farfalle pasta or use quinoa when you serve it on Passover.
GLUTEN-FREE, MEAT, PASSOVER
HANDS-ON TIME: 5 hours to soak the cashews, 40 Minutes prep
TIME TO PRESSURE: 25 Minutes
COOKING TIME: 14 Minutes
BUTTONS TO USE: Sauté and Pressure Cook
RELEASE TYPE: Quick Release
ADVANCE PREP: May be made 2 days in advance, cashew cream may be made 1 day in advance
2 tablespoons oil
2 medium-size chickens, each cut into eight pieces
1 large onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or black pepper pinch smoked paprika
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup raw cashews
2 cups water, divided
About 5 hours before you want to cook the chicken, place the cashews into a bowl and cover with 1 cup of the water. Let sit.
Press Sauté and make sure the time is set for 30 minutes. When the display reads “Hot,” add the oil to the inner pot. Brown the chicken in batches, about 4 pieces at a time and about 4 minutes per side, until well-browned. Transfer to a large pan. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the paprika, Aleppo pepper, and smoked paprika and cook for 30 seconds, stirring almost the entire time. Add the stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot clean. Add the tomatoes and stir. Return the chicken to the pot, placing the dark meat pieces on the bottom and the white meat pieces on top.
Secure the lid, ensuring that the steam release handle is in the Sealing position. Press the Pressure Cook button and set the cooking time for 14 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, drain the cashews and place into the bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining 1 cup of water and process until very creamy, for about 2 full minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Set aside.
When the cooking time is complete, turn the steam release handle to the Venting position to quickly release the pressure. Press Cancel and remove the lid.
Remove the chicken to a serving platter and press Sauté. Cook the sauce for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken, stirring occasionally. Add the cashew cream and cook for 1 minute. Pour over the chicken.