Pressure cookers, both the stovetop kind and electric ones like the Instant Pot, are quite versatile, with a range of capabilities that can seem daunting. If you’re new to pressure cookers—or you’re looking to try a new, simple one-pot dish that takes advantage of that versatility and showcases all a pressure cooker can do—try our recipe for shallot-lemon chicken and vegetables.
We think this is the ultimate back-pocket recipe that can feed your family or friends in a pinch. This dish is a balance of extremely tender and flavorful meat and vegetables accented by a lemony sauce. Browning the chicken whole, as opposed to in pieces, really cuts down on active cooking time. Although we think the flavor of browned skin and lightly sautéed shallots is best, you are free to throw everything in the pot and pressure cook without sautéeing. But mind you, it will be a very pale dish! Either way, in less than 40 minutes, you will have a nutritious meal on the table with little hassle and only one pot to clean.
If you don’t know how to properly truss a chicken, no worries! We just tied the ankles together and wrapped butcher’s string around the top part of the breast to secure the wings to the body. A tied chicken isn’t integral to the success of this dish, but the wings tend to fall off when lifting the bird from the cooker if not secured.
Stovetop pressure cookers operate at a higher psi than electric cookers, so food takes a little longer to cook in electric. If you’re using an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot—one of our picks in our guide to the best pressure cookers—we recommend the natural pressure release for this recipe, because a quick release tends to rough up the vegetables.
Pressure Cooker Shallot-Lemon Chicken and Vegetables
Total cooking time: 40 minutes
1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), legs tied, wings tucked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise (or 1 small yellow onion cut into eighths)
1 pound small red potatoes, 1½ to 2 inches in diameter
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch sections
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth (or water)
2 large bunches spinach, washed and big stems removed (or two 10-ounce bags)
Finely grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (optional)
- Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in pressure cooker over medium-high (for electric cookers, use the highest sauté setting). Brown chicken, breast side down, until skin is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken over. Scatter shallots around the chicken and sweat for 1 minute.
- Add potatoes, carrots, and broth. If using stovetop cooker, cover and bring to high pressure over medium-high to high heat, 8 to 11 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 16 minutes. If using electric cooker, set at high pressure for 20 minutes.
- If using a stovetop cooker, run cold water over the lid and down the side of the cooker to release pressure, being careful not to let water run into the valve holes. For electric pressure cookers, let pressure release naturally. Using tongs, carefully transfer chicken and vegetables to a platter, removing the string used to truss.
- With the lid off, bring pan juices to a boil (if using electric, use the sauté function); add spinach. Toss spinach until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer spinach to a serving dish with a wire-mesh spider or slotted spoon, pressing excess liquid back into the pot; season to taste. Add lemon zest and juice to the pot. Whisk in butter and parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle sauce over chicken and serve remainder on the side.
(Top image by Michael Hession.)