Monday, September 7, 2015

Smoky Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

I've kinda been looking longingly at pressure cookers and slow cookers, but finding it hard to justify bringing ANOTHER gadget into my tiny kitchen. A couple of weeks ago, a very trustworthy friend posted a link to a deal on the Instant Pot, a pressure/slow/rice cooker and yogurt maker all rolled into one, and I took the plunge and bought it. I love it!

This is not a paid endorsement, just me sharing something I'm having fun using. As always, adjust according to your taste. You can use regular mozzarella or Monterey Jack if you don't like the smoky flavor. 

Since buying this thing, I have been having a blast at home and on the Interwebs. I've discovered truckers who cook on the road and blog or make videos, and I've found a recipe for an Indian recipe I've been sad to miss since the allergy diagnosis (post to follow soon).

A recipe for Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese I found along the way piqued my interest, so I decided to work on that. Both this recipe and this recipe call for evaporated milk as a way around making a roux, but I've tried using that in recipes and I can always taste the canned flavor. Here's my adaptation of the linked recipes. 

Total time: about 25 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Put 3 cups (about 1/2 box) cavatappi or elbow macaroni in the Instant Pot with 3 cups water, 1 tsp ground dry mustard, and 1 1/2 tsp very coarse salt (no coarse salt? use 1 tsp fine). 

Lock the lid and set the valve to sealing. Push the manual button on the Instant Pot and reduce the time to 4 minutes. The four minutes is the time it cooks under pressure once pressure is achieved, in about 10 or 11 minutes. It will say "on" until it gets to full pressure, and then start counting down. 

While the pot is building pressure, grate 8 oz medium cheddar and 5 oz smoked mozzarella, preferably with the grater disc of a food processor. If you do this by hand, you might want to start before you put in the pasta. 

Add 1/2 tsp granulated garlic or onion powder, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp or so black pepper to 3/4 c half and half. Give it a good stir so the cornstarch dissolves. 

You could probably use heavy or light cream, but milk may not "absorb" the cheese the same way. 

When the four minutes under pressure are up, use a chopstick or something similar to push the valve to venting and release the pressure (quick release). If a lot of white stuff comes up with the steam, close for a second and start again. 

Release steam until the silver thingy next to the valve drops. 

Open the Instant Pot and ladle out a little of the liquid, maybe 1/2 cup or so. This will help the sauce not be too runny and soupy. 

Pour in the half and half mixture and stir with a silicone or wooden spoon. 

Push the keep warm/cancel button, then push the saute button. Stir for a total of about 3 minutes, then turn off the cooker.

Stir in cheese, one handful at a time. If you stir in too much at once, you'll have big globs of melted cheese that don't combine into the sauce. Still yummy, but maybe not the texture you want! 

It'll be a little soupy at this point, but it'll thicken up as it cools a bit. Remove the insert from the cooker and set it on a trivet or a potholder while you toast the breadcrumbs. 

Put 1 Tbsp butter or oil, 1/4 c breadcrumbs, and a touch of salt, pepper and garlic or onion powder in a pan over medium heat. 

Stir until the crumbs are toasty brown, then remove them from the pan right away. 

Spoon the mac and cheese into bowls and sprinkle some of the crumbs over each one. 

This keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and reheats in the microwave for work lunches. 


  1. This sounds delish, but your text on the recipe is hard to read, change the font?

    1. I will tinker with it tonight! I noticed that last week and haven't had a minute to alter it yet. Thanks for the reminder!

    2. updated with a better font. thanks again for the feedback!