It’s 7:30 pm, I’m starving, I really don’t feel like putting much effort into cooking, but I want something good. So I grab up a frozen pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, a jar of spaghetti sauce, a pound of spaghetti, and just sort of wing it (see what I did there?).
The chicken was completely frozen, so it needed to cook a little bit before I could cook it with the spaghetti. Chicken thighs take from 8-10 minutes to pressure cook. Spaghetti needs only five minutes under pressure. So how do I make this work?
First, I threw the frozen slab of chicken into one of my stainless steel inserts, put a cup of water inside the Instant Pot liner, placed the pan on my tall trivet, and set it to cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 10, minutes, followed by a quick pressure release.
What if your chicken is fresh (not frozen)? Reduce the initial pressure cooking time to three minutes.
Partially cooking the chicken first will ensure that all ingredients are cooked to the correct degree of doneness, and that your spaghetti won’t turn to mush.
Frozen chicken thigh slab, ready for a little pot-in-pot precooking. Don’t forget to add 1 cup of water (or chicken broth ) to the Instant Pot liner, place your trivet, and then your stainless steel pan containing the chicken.
Once the pressure was released, I removed the pan of chicken and emptied the Instant Pot liner. I then poured cold, salted water (about 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste, and 1 cup water per 4 oz pasta) into the pot. I then added the spaghetti (broken in half and placed crisscross in the water). I lightly seasoned the partially-cooked chicken with salt and pepper, and placed it on top of the pasta. Do not stir!
Next, I poured a 24 oz jar of spaghetti sauce evenly over the top of the chicken (again, do not stir), and I set the whole thing to cook at high pressure for five minutes, with a quick pressure release.
What sauce should you use? I prefer sauces that don’t have a lot of added sugar, if I don’t have time to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. Bertolli organic sauce was perfect. I add a little crushed red pepper, but that’s entirely optional.
Once it’s done, it’s going to look a little bit watery. That’s ok, because if you give it a good stir and let it rest for a few minutes, the whole thing will thicken up as the noodles take on a bit more water. Just be patient and give it up to about 10 minutes to cool and thicken, stirring it every now and then.
Serve up your nice, easy, delicious, and filling emergency dinner with some freshly-grated pecorino-romano cheese, and buon appetito!