Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken w/Guajillo-Pasilla BBQ Sauce

Pulled BBQ Chicken

This recipe basically adapts the technique that I used for the enchilada filling, except I made a BBQ sauce from my Guajillo-Pasilla  to add to the chicken, rather  than the enchilada sauce. I offered rolls and flour tortillas with the chicken, and it was a hit…no leftovers!


For the Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts, trimmed

1 T. vegetable oil

1/3 c. Guajillo-Pasilla  sauce

1/3 c. water

1/4 t. each cumin, granulated garlic, black pepper

1/2 t. salt

Set the Instant Pot on Saute. When hot, add the oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Brown the chicken, in a couple of batches.

Brown the chicken pieces.

Add the chili sauce, rinse the sauce container with the water and add to the pot. Add the spices.

Add the flavorings.

Put Instant Pot lid in place, turn vent to “sealed”. Change setting to Pressure Cooking, High, and set timer to 10 minutes.

Cooked chicken

When time is done, either carefully vent pressure, or allow to depressurize naturally. Set aside chicken until cool enough to handle. Also save and refrigerate the cooking liquid for later use.

Set aside to cool…and save the cooking liquid!

For the BBQ Sauce

1 c. Guajillo-Pasilla sauce

1 can tomato sauce

1/2 c. light brown sugar

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. each cumin, granulated garlic. paprika, and black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir to combine well and bring up to a simmer.

Chili sauce and spices.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly reduced; about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

with tomato sauce….simmer

Pull chicken into shreds. Toss with enough BBQ sauce to completely moisten the chicken. (See first photo!) Serve any extra on the side.

Shredded chicken.

By the way, I saved the chicken trimmings, and combined them with a handful each of carrots, onion, and celery, in the Instant Pot, with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and sauteed until browned.

Chicken trimmings with aromatics.

I also added salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. I added water…maybe 5 or 6 cups?

Browning the trimmings and veggies.

Put the lid on, switched to Pressure Cook on High for 10 minutes. When done and depressurized, strain and voila!

Darn close to free chicken stock!

Chicken stock

This and the cooking liquid from the chicken pieces will be refrigerated until I decide to use them…possibly together for a Pazole! Hardly any waste, and very cost effective. Enjoy!


Instant Pot Guajillo-Pasilla Chili Sauce

Guajillo-Pasilla Chili Sauce


This sauce is basically like a liquid version of chili powder. The Instant Pot helps with the toasting of the dried chilies, and then speeds up the process by pressure cooking the chilies briefly, rather than soaking for a half hour to an hour.

Dried chilies, stemmed and seeded.

The rest of the process involves a blender, a strainer and a utensil to force the pulp through the strainer. It can be a little messy, but the result is a “master sauce” that is extremely versatile. This one is pretty mild, but you could do a little research, and change up the dried chili types to get a sauce with more heat, more smokiness, or whatever you prefer. I think I’ll double the recipe next time, so I get more sauce for the same amount of effort. This recipe yielded a little over a half pint. But remember, it’s an ingredient; not a whole dish.

There are SO many things you can do with this sauce…add it to menudo or pazole, add some spices and bake chicken or pork in it, or make enchilada filling. You could use it to make taco meat or chili con carne. I think I may use the smaller amount and pressure cook some boneless chicken breast in the Instant Pot, and use the rest to make a barbecue sauce…add tomato, molasses or brown sugar, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar…and have pulled chicken BBQ!


equal amounts dried peppers, stems and seeds removed. I used Pasilla and Guajillo.

3 cups hot water


Preheat the Instant Pot on the Saute setting. When hot, add the dried chili pods (stems and seeds removed and discarded). Dry toast the chilies until they have softened and become aromatic, turning frequently. CAUTION: Try not to inhale the steam or smoke produced by the chilies or get it in your eyes! It could cause significant irritation!

Chilies “toasting” in the Instant Pot.

Add the 3 cups of hot water and switch the Instant Pot to Pressure Cook, high, for 10 minutes. Put the lid in place and put the vent control in the sealed position.

Pressure cooked chilies in Instant Pot.

When finished, you can let it  depressurize naturally, or carefully open vent. When you have verified that the Instant Pot is completely depressurized, open, and transfer the chilies to a blender container, using tongs. Add about half of the liquid from the pot to the blender.

Sauce being blended. (Not as full as it looks.)

Carefully blend the contents, until smooth. you may need to use a kitchen towel to cover your blender pitcher, and vent to avoid pressure build up from the steam. Now, pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, over a bowl.

Strain the sauce and pulp. (I should’ve used a slightly wider container.)

Use the back of a spoon or ladle and work the sauce through. scrape the bottom of the sieve to get all the sauce! You should have some solids left in the sieve. This is the chili’s skin, and any seed bits that got through.

Almost done. Just have to work a little more through the strainer.

Now you have a nice, smooth, beautiful chili sauce! (See first photo)

I store mine in the refrigerator in glass canning jars until I’m ready to use it. It will keep for at least a couple of weeks! Enjoy!

Here’s how much this batch made. Half pint jars.


Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Filling

Chicken Enchiladas

Guess who finally got an Instant Pot for Christmas?! Yup, that would be me. Just getting my feet wet and, so far, I’ve made vegetable beef soup, a vegetarian vegetable soup (that really needed some tomato paste), and today’s recipe: Chicken Enchilada Filling.

The ingredients are:

1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast, trimmed

1 can Red Enchilada Sauce

1 can Green Chilies, chopped/diced

1 large garlic clove, crushed, skin removed

1 t. ground cumin

1 t. dried oregano

pinch of salt

Just enough water to rinse cans…maybe a few tablespoons


Everybody in the pool!


Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot. Set to Pressure Cook, high pressure, for 20 minutes. (Make sure steam vent is closed!) When time is done, you can let the pressure dissipate naturally, or CAREFULLY open the vent to manually release the steam.

20 minutes later….

After cooking, I separated the chicken into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and popped it into the refrigerator to chill, so I will be able to handle it and pull it into shreds later.

Chicken…needs to cool off before pulling.

I poured the sauce into a bowl and refrigerated it, as well.

Spicy sauce!

I tasted the sauce, and it is pretty spicy, for me. I’m assuming that the reason for that is the enchilada sauce. I used Old El Paso brand Red Enchilada Sauce, and it is labeled “medium”. I may wind up using a milder sauce for the enchiladas, and serving this sauce on the side, so people can use it if they want to spice theirs up, or use it on rice. Not all of us like it painfully spicy. Note to self: buy more milk and sour cream.

So, next day…decided to make a mild enchilada sauce that I found online. If anyone is interested, I can give you the link. It was pretty simple.

I warmed the chicken in the microwave briefly…just enough to make it easy to pull apart by hand. I also added some of the mild enchilada sauce to it, to make the filling.

Pulled chicken with some mild enchilada sauce added.

The sauce that resulted from the chicken cooking, I modified with a sprinkle of sugar…maybe a teaspoon, at most… and then I combined a couple tablespoons of olive oil with about a tablespoon of flour. After mixing that in until smooth, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste. This mixture was mixed well and then blended into the sauce. I microwaved the sauce for 2-1/2 minutes, covered,  to bring to a simmer. Now, for enchilada assembly. I sprayed  the bottom of my casserole dish non-stick spray and lined it with parchment paper…and sprayed it again. Should make for easy clean-up! Some of my original spicy sauce went on the bottom for a foundation. (It wasn’t much, so it didn’t overpower the dish.) Being a Gringo, I like flour tortillas and they work well for this dish. You could use warmed corn tortillas, if you prefer. The warming makes either type more pliable for rolling.

Ingredients for the Chicken Enchiladas, ready for assembly.

So, a couple of tablespoons of the chicken filling, a sprinkle of finely shredded cheese, and roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until filling is used up, or dish is full.

Fill the tortillas.

Fill the baking dish. (I had a few bits of chicken left, so I sprinkled it on top.)

Next, cover with enchilada sauce…this is the mild stuff…then a layer of cheese.

Oven ready!

Pop into an oven, preheated to 350F for about 25 to 30 minutes. Its just about heating the filling and melting the cheese. When mine was done, I dropped the the oven temperature to 190F, to keep it warm until I was ready to serve it.

Ready to serve!

I served mine with some yellow rice…spicy enchilada sauce was available to anyone who wanted it. (I used up all the mild in assembling the dish.) The final product was delicious! Definitely will do this again. Enjoy!

The basic serving.


Basic Flan

Basic Flan. Yum!

Flan. Not what most kids want for dessert. But, if you can get them to TRY it, many will like it. As an adult, with more mature tastes, almost everyone will appreciate it. Flan is a custard that is pretty firm, and is baked with caramelized sugar that becomes a syrupy sauce.

Many cultures have a version of flan, especially Latino and Hispanic cuisines. The one I am doing here is a pretty simple, basic Mexican style flan. I ordered a flan pan via the internet to cook mine in; however, you can use an 8″x3″ deep cake pan or something similar, with or without the water bath. Using the water bath, I believe is supposed to give a more even heat and a finer texture.

Here’s the recipe:

Basic Whole Egg Flan

5 whole eggs

1 can of evaporated milk

1 can of condensed milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup granulated white sugar


Preheat oven to to 350F. Add sugar to a small saucepan, preferably non-stick, over medium heat. Pay close attention and stir often. Adjust heat as necessary.

Starting the caramel.

Sugar starting to melt. Stir!

In a large mixing bowl, add 5 whole eggs. (I remove the little white globs with a fork, or you could strain, after mixing in other ingredients.) Add condensed and evaporated milks and vanilla. Combine well, using a wire whip.

Eggs and milks.

When the sugar is completely melted, it should be a nice amber color. It will burn VERY quickly, so don’t push it too much and pay close attention! It will be extremely hot and sticky, so handle with care! I think I went just a bit too long, as some stuck to the pan and was hardened. (see photo below)

Caramel is ready!

Carefully pour the caramel into the flan pan or baking pan.

Caramel in the pan.

Ladle the egg mixture into the pan. I probably should have let the caramel set-up just a minute or two. We’ll see how it turns out. (see photo below)

Custard mixture added.

If using flan pan and water bath, affix lid to flan pan, place in a larger, oven safe dish, on a sheet pan or other larger baking pan. Add boiling water to the bath pan, coming halfway up the flan pan. Carefully transfer to preheated oven.

In the water bath and oven.

If not using flan pan  or water bath, just put baking pan on a cookie sheet onto the oven rack. Oven rack should be in the center of the oven. Bake for 60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for a least a couple hours prior to serving.

Out of the oven and cooling.

To serve, run a knife around the sides to release, invert a serving dish onto the flan baking dish. Make sure you have a dish that will hold the caramel liquid, without overflowing!

I used a pie plate to invert my flan onto.

Carefully, but quickly flip over, and then remove the baking dish.

Ta da!!! Looks like I should have let the caramel set for just a minute, but looks pretty good.

Some caramel hardened onto the pan. Next time, remove from heat sooner?

Heading to the fridge for a couple of hours.

Cut into servings, plate, spoon syrup over.

May be served with whipped cream and/or berries, if desired.

You can find versions of flan with various flavors, such as coffee, chocolate, pumpkin, almond, coconut, and more. Once you are comfortable with the basic recipe, try some variations! Enjoy!

UPDATE  (9/2/17)  Since the initial post, I’ve made a couple more flan and experimented a little. First, the hardened caramel kind of bugged me, so I’ve tried to remove it from the heat sooner…just trying to make sure its completely melted. I also have given just a couple of minutes before adding the custard mixture. I’m still getting some hardened caramel, though. But I’ve found that I can break it up, and either eat it like candy, or try to melt it in a sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of water and then pour it back over the flan, after it has cooled. Melting it again takes some time and constant vigilance, though.

Eat it,or melt it?

It has produced a better top surface…nice and smooth.

Nice smooth top.

Other experimentation, has been in flavoring variations. The above photo is actually a coffee flavored flan. I just dissolved some instant coffee, about 1/3 cup, into just enough water to dissolve it. I stirred than into the custard mix until well combined. I think it was very good.

The other variation, that I did today, was chocolate. For this one, I added 1/3 cup cocoa powder directly to the custard. It was a little messy and slow to get mixed in, but I worked at it and prevailed! Here are a few photos of that flan coming out of the pan:

Out of the oven and lid removed.

Smooth, glassy top!


Nice! Definitely has that cocoa powder chocolate flavor.



Pickled Red Okra

Red okra. I saw this somewhere and it sparked an interest. I made a couple of jars of pickled okra last year, and I entered one in competition at the State Fair. I had some winners, but my okra wasn’t one of them. I tried it, and I thought it was good; but I’m not a pickled okra “expert”, so…. How can I get the judges’ attention? How about some RED okra?!

I followed the basic recipe found here:  http://nchfp.uga.edu/

Our State Fair requires that the recipe source follow established and tested guidelines for submissions, and this is the site specified. I broke down the brine ratios for a small batch: 2 cups water, 2 cups white vinegar, and a little over 3-1/2 tablespoons of kosher (or pickling) salt, brought to a boil.

Into each prepared pint jar, I packed the cleaned and trimmed okra, then added a fresh, whole garlic clove, a couple small springs of fresh dill, and I eyeballed around 1/4 teaspoon each of dill seed, yellow mustard seed, and a dash of red pepper flakes.

Red okra packed in jars with flavorings.

Meanwhile, I had prepared my canner, jar lids and rings, and utensils.

Canner coming to a boil, brine, and lids.

To the jars of okra, I added the hot brine, leaving 1/2″ head space. I cleaned the rims, added the lids and tightened the rings.

I processed the jars for 10 minutes.

After processing, I removed the jars from the canner and made sure the rings were tight. Now, they will rest 24 hours. I have already observed the lids creating the “ping” sound for sealing. So, tomorrow, I will remove the rings, wash the jars, and store them in my pantry. I have one for competition and one to eat, after I see what the judges’ think (October). Fingers crossed.

I can already see that the color of the okra has faded and colored the brine. (See top photo) Not as striking, but hopefully still eye-catching!


My New Kitchen Toy: Sous Vide Cooker


I’ve seen a few people doing sous vide cooking at home for awhile now, on some cooking forums that I follow. I’m not sure of the full potential, but I’m intrigued. With a little Christmas cash to spend, I decided to buy a portable sous vide cooker that I believe was a good buy. After a little research, I settled on a model made by Gourmia that seems to get good reviews. The model number is GSV-140. Amazon was selling it for $99.00…retail is supposedly $199.00, which I probably would not have been willing to pay. A Foodsaver vacuum sealer is handy to have as well, though you could get away with using zippered storage bags…they just would be a little more likely to leak, and the vacuum makes the sous vide process more effective, I think. I’ve had a vacuum sealer for 20+ years. Disclaimer: I am not in any way sponsored by or reimbursed by either Gourmia, Foodsaver, or Amazon.

Okay. So, the sous vide cooker arrived and I unpacked it, and read through the quick start-up guide and some other literature that came with it. I’m not going to cover the definition of sous vide, or all the technical stuff here. You can find tons of information online. This is just to document my experiments and share them, if anyone is interested.

I had a vacuum sealed bag of chicken drumsticks and thighs on hand and decided to make that my first foray into sous vide.

Vacuum sealed chicken pieces.

Vacuum sealed chicken pieces.

It was pretty simple: follow the directions for clamping the cooker to a container (I’m using a stock pot), add water between two marks, using the bagged chicken to get the amount right with volume displacement. Remove the bag. Enter the time and temperature according to the instructions for the cut of chicken I used, and start. When the water is up to temperature, I added the bag back in, and clipped it to the side of the pot.

Dial in the time and temperature.

Dial in the time and temperature.

You will find that sous vide recipes often give a wide range of time for cooking. Without getting bogged down in the technicalities, what you are doing is a long, slow poaching; at a very accurate temperature. You cook for a minimum period of time required, to reach the target temperature throughout the product being cooked. At that minimum time, the food is safe to eat, but you can go to the maximum time in the recipe, without seriously affecting texture and quality of the product. Passed that time, some foods could get overcooked…mushy.

I set the temperature according to directions, at 158F. I cooked it for three hours. I could have stopped at two or gone for five, but I decided to do three hours. It was a bit unsettling that the juices in the bag were not “running clear”, like other cooking methods use as a gauge for chicken being “done”. They were still a murky, dark reddish color.

Chicken, unbagged.

Chicken, unbagged.

Cooked chicken

Cooked chicken

However, when I opened the bag and pulled a piece of meat apart, it was cooked through. It was very moist and had a good texture. At this point, I could have finished on a grill or in a saute pan, if I wanted to brown the meat. I decided to just eat one of the thigh pieces and put the rest into the refrigerator for a later recipe.

Checking to see if cooked through.

Checking to see if cooked through.

Day two, I have done some reading on sous vide cooking eggs. I’m doing four eggs currently at 147F for an hour and a  half.


The result should be like an over medium egg, or a medium boiled egg. I like a set white…no slime, and a yolk that has begun to gel, but not solid. If I were cooking in a pan, the result should be a yolk that is starting to solidify on the outside and still runny in the middle…so that, when I cut it up, there is enough runny yolk to coat the cut white pieces…but not runny enough to pool on the plate. I get pretty specific about how I like my eggs…I know!  Will update later today.

Egg update: Holy mackeral. The egg yolks are perfect. The texture is creamy and amazing! The whites were a little underdone for my liking, but from my reading, I know that some may remain watery…and I was able to dribble that little bit off. So, now I just need to experiment with adjusting the temperature up a couple of degrees and/or try adding another half hour to the time. It was fairly easy to get the eggs out of the shells. I just cracked them on the large end and removed enough shell to allow the egg to be tipped out into a small bowl.

Tipped out into a small bowl.

Tipped out into a small bowl.

Carefully opening the egg.

Carefully opening the egg.

After I checked the yolk texture, I gently lifted the eggs onto some awaiting toast, leaving that little bit of watery white behind.

Sous vise eggs on toast. Yum.

Sous vise eggs on toast. Yum.

Yolk test...oh, MY!

Yolk test…oh, MY!

I will say that, while the whites were very soft, there were not what I would call “slimy”…that really repulsive stuff on eggs when someone under-cooks the whites. I would just like them set firmer. Overall, I’m very impressed. I have seen sous vide recipes for creme brulee and hollandaise sauce. I haven’t gone through them yet, but I’m betting the texture is remarkable. We’ll see!


Muscadine Grapes: Unexpected Bounty!

Big, juicy muscadine grapes!

Big, juicy muscadine grapes!


I got a text message from a niece recently, because she saw that I had made scuppernong jelly, and I had commented that my usual foraging locations were not productive this year, so I had to purchase the grapes at the local farmer’s market. She and her husband had just moved back to my area recently and she discovered that the property has a large grape arbor in the back yard. Would I like to come by and pick some grapes? Absolutely!!!

I have an 18 month old grandson and she has a 13 month old baby, so we arranged a play date and grape picking get together. A couple of days later, she mentioned that they had friends over this past weekend and they had picked a big bag of the grapes, but she thought there were more available. *sigh* Well, I guessed the grapes would be pretty sparse. After a little playtime inside with the babies, we headed outside…hmmm…there’s a cluster of ripe grapes, and a few more, and more…and I realized that there was no shortage of grapes here.

Kids outside by the grape arbor.

Kids outside by the grape arbor.

I filled a 2 gallon pail and there were plenty left! After another week, there will be more ripened and ready to pick. I have weighed what I picked, and I have 11 pounds, 6 ounces!

Nice haul of muscadine grapes!

Nice haul of muscadine grapes!

So, now I have to decide what to do with the grapes…if I need them all for a batch of wine, or if I will have enough to make some jelly, too. I may have to go back next week for a smaller batch to do jelly. I’ll be reviewing my last two wine batch blogs to see what I did with them. Two years ago, I did a muscadine red wine that turned out pretty dry, due to the yeast I chose. https://mmmbrews.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/day-144-muscadine-wine/  Last year, I did a muscadine/blueberry wine that was a little lighter/softer, but still fairly dry. https://mmmbrews.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/starting-blueberry-muscadine-wine/  I would like to do one that is a little sweeter, but I still don’t want to do the overly sweet wines that are normally associated with muscadines. Also, for last years wine, I bought a pH test kit and something to adjust it, if necessary…have to track that down and read up on it again. I also rented a wine bottle corker and bought bona fide wine bottles and corks. The first batch was put into beer bottles. I might have to open a bottle of each…for research.  I have also read that sweeter homemade wines don’t preserve as well, so just a little sweetness would be good. More to follow after research and when I get time to work on it.