An Instant Pot is a Canadian-manufactured pressure cooker whose claim to fame is that it can also be used as a slow cooker, steamer, saute pan, and yogurt maker (!). It’s been a hot seller, and already available in baffling variety of models, with a great number of supporting cookbooks and web resources.
I at first wasn’t interested in the device, as it was described as a handy one-pot option for people who don’t like to cook. I got more intrigued with the reports of the speed which you could cook certain things—baked beans, brown rice, whole squash. Maybe it would allow me to cook those types of dishes and foods more often.
I used some birthday money to take the plunge. This required first doing some research into the varieties of models available to figure out what I wanted. I thought that maybe I would want to make yogurt some day (?), so I’d go to at least the Duo model, instead of Lux. But I didn’t really see the need to be able to control the thing with a phone app (!), so I wouldn’t spring for the “Smart”.
I then tasked Jean with figuring out where to buy the Duo from. We ended up getting it at Best Buy: The 6-quart Duo Plus.
There’s a bit of a learning curve to this thing. I did read the manual, and some web resources, but Jean and I were still fumbling our way through the first recipe we tried, honey-garlic chicken. Like, first we had to sauté, and we missed that we were supposed to wait until the indicator said Warm before adding the food. Then it was on to pressure cooking, and it took a few tries to get how to set the cooking time, and how to tell when it was actually cooking. And then we had to decide on a technique for “releasing” the pressure cooker five minutes after it was done.
So all in all, this supposed 30-minute recipe took over an hour. It was, however, absolutely delicious.
Since then I’ve also tried:
- Adapting my Mom’s baked bean recipe to the Instant Pot
- Making roast potatoes with rosemary
- Steaming basmati rice
- A momo meatballs with cilantro chutney recipe
- Cooking whole beets
- Making pina colada rice pudding
And so far I’ve learned:
Mentally add in a 10 to 20 minutes preheat time to each recipe
Long-grain rice in 4 minutes? Baked beans in 40? Well, not quite. Because recipes will tell you how long to saute or pressure cook something, and how long to let it sit before releasing, but will never estimate the preheating time—perhaps because it can vary with the model or how hot it got in the previous phase. So in addition to prep and cook time, you have to consider that preheat time.
It’s not always faster
Baked beans, chicken with bones, brown rice, beets—even with the preheating, all of these were definitely faster in the Instant Pot than they would have been in the oven or stove top. But for long-grain white rice…? About the same. And, you have to make a lot of rice at once, which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to limit carbs.
It doesn’t do crispy
It’s been terrific at producing tender meat, creamy rice pudding, and flavorful and tender baked beans. But in roast potatoes, I prefer more crispness than you get cooking them this way (though I still might do it again if I were low on time).
What I’m most eager to try next is a macaroni and cheese recipe (from a book) and a chicken adobo. I’m looking forward to trying risotto (which I’m too lazy to make the traditional way) and seeing how it does with whole squash.
Oh, and I guess one of these times I’ll have to try making my own yogurt (!).