1 lb of pasta – I used elbow macaroni. Note: The boxes of pasta at the store are usually 380grams (3/4 of lb). I think there’s a pasta/water ratio you need to adhere to so that you don’t have excess liquid after cooking the pasta.
4 cups of water
2 cups of shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup of shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (The Cheddar/Monterrey Jack combo offers a creamier and smoother Mac n’ Cheese flavor)
1 cup of half and half milk
2 Tbsp of Butter
4 cups of water, 1 lb of pasta, some salt (1 or 2 tsp), and some dried mustard (1 tsp) goes into the Instant Pot. Cook on Manual for 4 minutes with the valve set to Sealing. Quick Release (QR) the valve when cooking is finished.
Mix in half-and-half, butter, and shredded cheese into pasta. Folding in ingredients a little at a time makes things easier
Add salt, pepper, oregano, or other to taste.
Try adding hot sauce for a kick in flavor
Try different cheese combinations to find a combo that works for you
Adhere to the 4 cups of water to 1 lb of pasta ratio to avoid excess water.
Cheddar/Monterrey Jack cheese offers a smoother and creamy flavor
4 bone in chicken breasts KB: Bone in is important. If you find that you don’t have enough flavor, you can also buy chicken bones by itself. I also found that 4 chicken breasts left me with way too much chicken. My second attempt was with 1 chicken breast with rib bone and 2 carcasses of chicken bones.
1 onion KB: I used a yellow onion.
1 palm sized piece of ginger
¼ cup fish sauce plus to taste KB: Use 1/2 cup. Taste your broth before serving. You’ll need to add a little fish sauce and/or salt to the broth in order to get it to the flavor/taste you are looking for. Don’t be afraid of adding too much though. Like Cuong said, the noodles will dilute the broth and flavor.
2 TBS sugar (preferably palm sugar) KB: Use 1 tablespoon instead of 2.
1 teaspoon of salt
packet of pho spices (can omit) KB: This was one of the items available at my local Asian Market. $3.00 for 5 spice packets. https://www.amazon.com/Pho-Hoa-Beef-Noodle-Spices/dp/B003GRMUCU
The filter bag becomes really fragile after the cooking process. Use a ladle to remove the packet as to not break the spice bag during removal.
Cooking Directions (From Cuong Can Cook with personal notes in bold):
Over direct heat gas flame, char the whole onion and ginger, 5 minutes. If a gas burner is not available, you can use a dry pan on the stove, broil in the oven, or use your outdoor BBQ grill.
Place chicken, fish sauce, sugar, charred onion and ginger, salt, and spice packet into Instant Pot and fill with hot water (can use cold, it just takes longer to heat up). Close lid, set vent knob to Sealing, and use Manual for 20 minutes. KB: Try to use hot water if possible. It will save you a lot of time. We also found the chicken to be a little bland. Consider preparing the chicken ahead of time by seasoning with some salt and pepper.
While the chicken is cooking, slice green onion and cilantro into small pieces
After 20 minute cook time, you can QR (Quick Release) or NPR (Natural Pressure Release). Taste and season broth. KB: I ended up cooking on Manual for 25 minutes. I also don’t think it hurts to let the broth sit after cooking. I feel like the flavors really start to settle in more the longer you let it sit. My only recommendation is to remove the spice packet with a ladle as I think the packet will become more prone to breaking. According to Cuong, you want the broth to be a bit more flavorful than what you like. When you add the rice noodles into the soup, it will dilute the flavor a little bit. This is very much true!
In a separate pot, boil some water, Using a noodle strainer if available, boil the dry pho noodles about 5 to 20 seconds until it is loose and pliable. Place into soup bowl. KB: I was told to wash the noodles again after cooking it. Something about a better taste.
Slice or pull chicken meat and add to soup bowl
Garnish with green onion and cilantro, pour hot soup broth into bowl KB: If the noodles are cold, consider microwaving the bowl for 30-45 secs prior to adding the broth.
Top with Thai basil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice
Stay lubed during all steps of the cooking process!