There’s nothing quite like a hearty meal starring a piece of meat and some root vegetables (except if you’re a vegetarian, which is unlikely to be the case if you clicked on this recipe). When cooking large hunks of meat like a pork shoulder, it can be a bit intimidating to monitor the ideal cooking time and temperature for a final dish that’s expertly cooked. Thanks to an Instant Pot, all the uncertainty is gone, and with minimal preparation, you can sit back and wait for your meat to cook to perfection.
Kristen Carli, registered dietitian, and owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, knows that sometimes the only thing standing in the way of a wholesome meal is time. With this in mind, she has developed a recipe that is as delicious as it’s filling, with only 10 minutes of preparation. Chop up a few vegetables, throw the ingredients into your Instant Pot, and you’ll have a complete meal ready in under two hours. Since you’ll only be actively working on it for 10 minutes, you’ll have plenty of time to relax, take a warm bath, call an old friend, you name it! When the time is up, you’ll just have to open your Instant Pot and you’ll be faced with a delicious dinner.
Gather the ingredients
To start, you’ll need a nice pork shoulder — choose one on the smaller side that will easily fit in your pot. Pork shoulder is generally an affordable cut, packed with flavor. If you’re able, source your meat from a local butcher for the best quality. If you prefer another cut of pork, choose one of similar weight to keep the cook time similar. Salt, pepper, and brown sugar are all you need to season the pork – it’s already got plenty to offer in terms of taste.
Next, you’ll need olive oil to sauté the garlic and onion in the pot. Vegetable broth adds plenty of savoriness to the dish and will prevent the pork from drying out. Meat broth could also work but vegetable keeps the dish a bit lighter – the pork will add plenty of juices as well. Dried thyme adds a lovely herbal touch to the dish and pairs well with meat and root vegetables. Some russet potatoes, celery, and carrots bring all the nutrients you need for a complete meal. If you want to go another route with the vegetables, Carli tells us "This would be delicious with other vegetables. I think cauliflower, sweet potatoes and broccoli would be good!"
Finally, arguably the star of this recipe, is the Instant Pot. This recipe is designed to be made in an Instant Pot and would require multiple tweaks otherwise. If you don’t have one yet, maybe it’s time to take the leap – dinner ready with minimal effort definitely gets our approval.
Season the pork shoulder with salt, pepper, and brown sugar
Hopefully you’ve bought a fresh pink piece of meat with a healthy marbling of fat throughout. The fat adds plenty of flavor, which you can amplify by properly seasoning the pork prior to cooking. Rubbing salt all over the pork shoulder helps release more juices during the cooking process, to ensure a juicy tender piece of meat. The natural flavors in the meat are highlighted by the balance of salt, pepper, and brown sugar, concentrating all the goodness. Coating the pork in the dry seasoning of salt, pepper, and brown sugar will also help the exterior of the meat brown as it cooks for a delicious caramelized flavor. Set the meat aside and let the dry rub take effect.
Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic to the Instant Pot
Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté setting. Mince the garlic cloves and chop the onions, and add them to the pot with some olive oil. Make sure the olive oil is well spread out for even cooking, and sauté the onions and garlic while gently stirring to avoid sticking. After about five minutes, the onions should soften and start to become translucent. At this stage, it’s time to add the some liquid to the pot to make sure the pork cooks to a delightfully tender consistency.
Add the vegetable broth to the pot
Pour the vegetable broth on top of the sautéed onion and garlic mix. To make this recipe extra easy, just open up a carton of your favorite brand. If you’ve been making use of your Instant Pot regularly, you might have some homemade stock lying around in your freezer. If so, there’s always something extra tasty about the real deal. Add some dried thyme because a bit of extra herbs are a great touch when cooking meat for longer durations.
Don’t skip the broth or your Instant Pot won’t be able to build sufficient pressure and you’ll likely burn everything inside. Place the trivet or stainless steel rack stably at the bottom of the pot.
Add the pork shoulder to the Instant Pot
Check to make sure that the trivet is stable, and sit the pork shoulder to lie flat on top of the rack. As the pressure inside rises, the savory flavors from the broth, sautéed onions, and garlic will combine with the juices from the pork shoulder to cook the meat to tenderness. Your patience will definitely pay off! Close the lid and place the valve to the sealing setting. Turn the setting to high pressure and cook the pork shoulder for 1 1/2 hours.
Chop the potatoes, celery, and carrot
Meanwhile, you can prep the remaining vegetables that will be added at the end of the cooking time. Chop up some russet potatoes, celery, and carrots. You can cut the potatoes a bit larger to maintain a nice texture. This trio of vegetables is a classic successful pairing with meat, but feel free to experiment with other vegetables. Carli loves mixing it up, so choose your favorites or whatever you have in your refrigerator — we’re going to have to try this with cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes next time for a colorful twist!
Add the potatoes, celery, and carrots to the Instant Pot and cook
After the hour and a half has passed, quickly release the pressure in your Instant Pot and open it. Evenly spread the potatoes, carrots, and celery on top of the meat. Close the lid to the pot once again, and set the valve on sealing. Cook the vegetables on high pressure for another five minutes. The vegetables won’t take very long to cook with all the pressure and the steam from the juices. Now’s the time to set the table because your dinner is about to be served.
Release the pressure and serve
After five minutes, quickly release the pressure on your Instant Pot, and open it up. Using a large spoon, scoop out the vegetables and lay them on a serving dish. As you empty them out, you’ll be able to hold the trivet from the handles and lift out the meat. Place it on the serving dish along with all of the vegetables.
Plate each dish with a slice of tender pork shoulder and a generous helping of vegetables. For serving, Carli says "I would serve this dish with a side salad and some fresh rolls." Did someone say comfort food?
- 3 pounds pork shoulder roast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 russet potatoes, cubed
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- Season the pork with the salt and pepper.
- Using your hands, rub the brown sugar on the pork, then set it aside.
- Turn the Instant Pot to the sauté setting and add the olive oil, garlic, and onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add thyme and vegetable broth to the pot.
- Place a trivet in the Instant Pot and place the pork on top of the trivet.
- Close the lid and set the valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Turn the valve from seal to vent in order to quickly release the pressure.
- Add the potatoes, celery, and carrots. Close the lid and set the valve back to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- Once again, quick release the pressure.
- To serve, scoop out the vegetables onto a serving platter. Remove the pork shoulder from the Instant Pot, and place it on the serving platter. Slice it up and serve with the vegetables.