The French Way to Instant Pot Is as Chic & Effortless as You’d Expect

Plus, four tips for no-fail coq au vin's electric pressure cooker success.

October 26, 2018
Photo by Rocky Luten

Every fall, I look forward to firing up my big and mighty cocotte with the promise of slow-braised goodness awaiting me at the end of the weekend. A tough piece of chuck slowly yielding to pot roast perfection, a mountain of short ribs getting coaxed to be the best versions of themselves after an hours-long interlude: These are the magical transformations that make cold-weather meals.

Yet the crisp fall air always seems to coincide with an uptick in tempo of life, in general. School starts, work picks up, the holidays loom (Thanksgiving is in less than a month y’all). All this to say, life gets busy! And so it’s no surprise that there are legions of Instant Pot fans among us.

Truth be told, I do not own an Instant Pot myself, but with diehard devotees around me singing the praises of under-30-minute beans (no pre-soaking!) and pho in an hour, I’ll admit I’m getting dangerously close to giving one a try. In the meantime, I have the good fortune of enjoying recipes through the magic of our test kitchen―and here’s a winner any Instant Pot owner should bookmark, stat. (And if you're on the fence and mulling over an Instant Pot purchase, this will be helpful for you, too.)

Ann Mah, an American author and food writer currently living in Paris (swoon), has written about her love for the Instant Pot on our site before. And now she’s taken that admiration headfirst in her new book, Instantly French!, the first French cookbook for the electric pressure cooker.

In it, you’ll find a multitude of classic French recipes, including the perennial favorite, coq au vin, or chicken in red wine sauce.

“Coq au vin, a French country classic, has its roots in the farm days of yore, when a tough old male bird―his purpose of breeding outlived―needed hours of stewing in to become palatable,” explains Ann. “These days, the recipe is usually made with a whole chicken or hen, and braised for hours. But with the magic of the electric pressure cooker, this traditionally slow-simmered dish becomes weeknight fare.”

Here are Ann’s tips for a knockout Instant Pot coq au vin:

  • Stick to the thighs: In her recipe, Ann cleverly turns to just chicken thighs, which saves both time and money. “Unlike white meat, which may turn stringy and dry when braised, thighs emerge from the pressure cooker beautifully succulent and fall-apart tender.”
  • Save your money: Ann recommends an inexpensive (read: $10-or-less territory), medium-bodied red wine like a Beaujolais Villages for the braising liquid.
  • Prevent sauce disappointment: To avoid a thin, watery sauce (a commonplace IP complaint because of the lack of liquid evaporation in the vessel), Ann shares two tips: “First, use a modest amount of liquid (here, one cup of wine). Second, after you've pressure-cooked the chicken, thicken the sauce with a beurre manié (or, ‘kneaded butter’) made of equal parts flour and butter. Beurre manié is extremely easy to make: Just use a fork to mash butter and flour together (to save time, you could even prepare a large quantity and store it in the freezer, divided into 2-tablespoon portions). When you need to thicken a sauce, simply throw a frozen lump into your boiling braising liquid and whisk away.”

Fall-apart tender dark meat in well under an hour, plus springy, eggy noodles to help sop up all the sauce? This may just be the Instant Pot purchasing excuse you’ve I've been waiting for.

What's your favorite Instant Pot recipe? Share it with us below!


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Hana Asbrink

Written by: Hana Asbrink

Hana is the senior lifestyle editor at Food52.