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We document our adventures in travel, food, and design, and share stories about the people and communities we encounter along the way. 

Now full-time travelers, we've always been slightly nomadic and consider 'home' anywhere that includes us and our rescue dog, Lemon. We hit the road this year to discover, explore, and build community.

RV Gear: Instant Pot (and Pork!)

RV Gear: Instant Pot (and Pork!)

Oh, Instant Pot.  I barely remember a time before you were in my life.

I first heard about the Instant Pot from my friend Alyssa.  I believe I was complaining about how I can only cook rice with one specific recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and how if I deviate at all from it, I am sunk.  I mentioned thinking about getting a rice cooker but, at the same time, wanting to downsize.  She mentioned the Instant Pot and how it can do everything – pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, etc, etc.  I mentally filed it for another day.

Once I started joining all of the FB RV groups that seemed relevant, the Instant Pot came back into my life.  One favorite question from new full-timers is, “What tools/equipment/appliances do you use the most as a full-timer?” Ah, the Instant Pot.  After an Amazon Deal of the Day, with a savings of $49, it arrived at our home.

As we were prepping to downsize/yardsale most everything we owned, it wasn’t the greatest time for a new appliance.  We only got to use it once before we left Philly, but we recently retrieved it from our storage unit and decided we should really get familiar with it before we hit the road.

As soon as we retrieved the Instant Pot, I knew I wanted to test its limits with a pork shoulder, or pork butt.  This inexpensive and fatty cut of meat is one of my favorites, but also one that I usually throw in the slow cooker for 8+ hours.  When we cook a big cut of meat like this, we usually freeze it and also use it in many applications.  If the applications use similar ingredients then all the better as it reduces our grocery bill.  Below are some of our ideas – some tried and tested, and some that I just know will be delicious.

For the main Pork cooking method, I used this one from Nom Nom Paleo.  However, I made some changes, knowing that the main points I needed to remember were cooking time and liquid.

Pork Shoulder – one cook, many applications

  •  Pork butt, bone-in, cut in 4 or 5 fairly equal pieces
    Note: I am sure this recipe would work equally well with boneless, but bone-in is cheaper and wasn’t too difficult.
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Beer

1.       Using the sear function on the pressure cooker with some oil in the bottom, I salted, cumin-ed (is that a verb?) and seared each piece of pork on both sides.  For the larger piece with the bone in it, I seared on four sides. 

2.       I then placed all of my pork back in the pot, with the drippings, and poured in a cup or so of beer. 

And that could be the end.  I could tell you to toss on the lid, close the valve, and hit that bad boy for manual high for 90 minutes, but I added a little something that I want to tell you about.  Confession time.

First confession- I am a lazy cook.  Like, so lazy.  Inactive prep time is my jam and if I can cook two things at once instead of two things separately, um, why would I not do that?  Because it would be better?  Maybe.  But this is easier.  So there.

Knowing we wanted to make pork enchiladas for lunches the next week, I also wanted to make my version of a green enchilada sauce.  I had a pressure cooker.  I had pork fat, which makes everything better.  So I decided to kill two pigs with one stone.

Green “Enchilada” Sauce
Note:  I know this isn’t really enchilada sauce, but it’s a damn good green sauce that goes great over tortillas, beans, and with cheese, so lay off.

  • 10 tomatillos, washed, with husks removed
  • Poblano (left mostly intact)
  • Onion, quartered
  • 2 Jalapenos, whole, stem removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole, skin removed

Add later:

  •  Cilantro
  • Scallions

I threw everything from the tomatillos through the garlic on top of the pork.  Remember that the bigger the pieces of veg, the easier they will be to fish out in the end. 

So now that you are a genius by doing all of this together, to toss on the lid, close the valve, and hit that bad boy for manual high for 90 minutes.  I let this natural pressure release, which I think took about 20-30 more minutes.

When the scary pop-up thing that tells me its pressurized went down I opened the lid and behold: Narnia.  I VERY CAREFULLY (because they are falling apart) moved the tomatillos, etc, to the food processor.  I then removed the pork into two bowls, the fat/bones and the meat.  After the meat was out (which I portioned out with a food scale and froze), I skimmed off the fat and took some of the less-fatty liquid to the food processor.  I added about half a cup and zapped it. Then I added the scallion, cilantro, more cumin, more salt (after tasting), and zapped it again.

Glory.

We froze the enchilada sauce since we weren’t using it right away, and thawed it in the fridge.  It froze and thawed beautifully.

If you’re going to cook a glorious piece of meat that big, for that long, I suggest you have a lot of applications.  Which I do. Stay tuned for six delicious recipes that use the pork, including #4, which features that easy enchilada sauce!

IP Pork Dish #1: Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps

IP Pork Dish #1: Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps

Our Strangeland Story: The Beginning

Our Strangeland Story: The Beginning