Cook Multiple Things in One Instant Pot Through the Clever Use of Trivets


Photos by Claire Lower

The Instant Pot may be a multi-cooker, but most of its functions focus on one food at a time, often to excellent results. This is fine, but you can actually cook two distinct foods—say, a meaty main and a starchy side—in your Instant Pot at the same time. You just need a trivet.

Unfortunately, the trivet that comes with your Instant Pot isn’t tall enough for this purpose, but you can order one with a bit more height online. I ordered this set, and the taller one worked perfectly. Once you have a trivet, you’ll need to pick out two foods that will play nice in the pot. This chart lists many common Instant Pot-able foods and their respective cooking times, so give it a browse and play culinary matchmaker, keeping in mind that these are guidelines and a few extra minutes isn’t going to necessarily ruin tough, fibrous root vegetables, or collagen-packed meats. Some pairings you could try, based on their respective cook times:

  • Chicken thighs with congee
  • A whole quail and (soaked) Great Northern beans
  • Pork butt roast and beats
  • Ham and collards

You get the idea. For my first run with the trivet, I settled on beef short ribs and garnet yams, because it’s freaking cold out and I was craving something rib-sticking.

The great thing about this method is that you don’t have to follow any exact recipes. There are, however two basic configurations for cooking with a trivet:

  • Protein on bottom, side on top: This is great for meats that take well to braising in a liquid, and sides you want to keep whole, such as root vegetables
  • Side on the bottom, protein on top: Choose this is your side is beans, rice, or some other grain, and grab a secondary container for your protein.

Once you know what you’ll be making, find a recipe. If you want to start with some short ribs, I suggest you use mine:

  • 1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, cut into pieces so they’ll fit in the pot
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced (I used a mandoline to get nice little half-circle slices)
  • 1 sliced shallot
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablepoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Trader Joe’s Umami Paste
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Press the “saute” button on your instant pot and get that butter foaming. Salt the short ribs and sear them on both sides, then set them aside. Throw your onions and shallots in the pot, and cook them until they’re transparent and a bit browned.

Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Whisk together all of your remaining ingredients in a bowl, then get that tasty liquid in the pot with the onions and scrape up all the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Turn the Instant Pot off, add the short ribs back in, and kind of stir them around so they’re nice and coated with the wine mixture. Place the trivet in the pot.

Then place some sweet potatoes or yams on top of the trivet (poke some holes in them first.)

Close the lid of the Instant Pot, make sure the pressure release valve is set to “sealing,” and press the “manual” button. Using the “+” and “-” buttons, adjust the cooking time to 35 minutes. Go do something else. Once the cooking time has elapsed, let everything hang out for another five minutes, then release the pressure by switching the valve to “venting.” Open the pot and claim your reward.

In terms of “doneness,” both items came out pretty perfectly. The yam was cooked through and the short ribs—oh, the short ribs—were literally falling off their bones. I actually had to switch form tongs to a spoon for plating purposes, as each piece of meat I grabbed fell back into the pot when I tried to pull it out. It was, in short, quite successful, and I was able to enjoy a warm, comforting meal without turning on the oven, or dirtying more than one vessel.



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