Instant Pot: Simplified Chicken & Pork Kielbasa Cassoulet

The winter cold is just on the horizon and I'm always looking for comfort food to keep our bellies warm. Given that, here's a Simplified Chicken & Pork Kielbasa Cassoulet that makes winter a bit more bearable. Chicken, pork, bacon and Kielbasa slow cooks with beans and aromatics to create a comforting meal topped with buttery croutons to warm up to...

When reading the recipe, it may seem overwhelming with all the various lengths of time the different components take to prepare. But... it's worth it. Instead, think of this recipe as one you can make in advance and in stages. The chicken can be done in advance and rest in the brine for an hour. The topping can be done in advance since you're just making croutons. The bacon can be fried in advance, as with the chicken thighs. Even the cubed pork can be cooked ahead of time. The magic happens when all these components are combined together and allowed to cook for about an hour. Add the beans and the Kielbasa the mix, top with croutons and bake for a few minutes until the top is golden brown. As I mentioned, it's a simplified version of the traditional recipe... and it's the perfect dish to warm you up as we thaw from the winter into springtime!

1 cup kosher salt 
1 cup granulated sugar 
3 1/2 pounds bone in, skinless chicken thighs 

6 slices hearty {GF} sandwich bread, diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted 

6 slices thick cut bacon, diced

1/2 pound kielbasa sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices 
1 pound boneless pork loin roast (blade-end), trimmed of excess fat and cut in 1 inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped fine 
2 medium cloves garlic , minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained 
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 sprig fresh thyme 
1 bay leaf 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
Ground black pepper 
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth 
1 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)

2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained 

Brining the Chicken: In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water. Add chicken, pressing out as much air as possible; seal and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Preparing the Topping: While chicken is brining, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread crumbs and butter in small baking dish. Bake, tossing occasionally, until light golden brown and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature; set aside. I love how the butter really added some richness in the topping while keeping it very crisp to offer some contrast in the dish!

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.

Press SAUTE and add the bacon and kielbasa, cooking until the bacon is just beginning to crisp and most of the fat has rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon and kielbasa to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. 

In the now empty IP, add half of the chicken thighs, fleshy-side down; cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate; repeat with remaining thighs and set aside. 

In the now empty IP, add pork pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add minced garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and pepper to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and wine, scraping up browned bits off bottom of pot with wooden spoon. 

Return the chicken in the pot, adding any accumulated juices. 

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 20 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 20 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 20 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 20 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

When the display reflects L00:20 (which is 20 minutes since the IP has beeped), turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Preheat your broiler as you wait for the pin to drop and all pressure is released from the IP.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Stir the kielbasa, drained beans and cooked bacon into the pot with the chicken and pork; remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. 

Transfer the cassoulet mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle the croutons evenly over the surface.

Broil in preheated oven uncovered, until the flavors have melded and the croutons are deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.