I blame Stein.
For months he’s been insisting we do a show on the Instant Pot. This, from the guy who didn’t even own a rice cooker until I gave him one for a recent birthday.
As he explained on this week’s Food for Thought, every time he surfs the web he’s bombarded with information about the multi-cooker that’s TAKEN THE WORLD BY STORM and insisted I buy one so we could do a show about it. No, it doesn’t slice, dice or make julienne fries, but it can replace your pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, bamboo steamer-basket, sauté pan and (assuming you’ve bought the right model) canning pot.
If you listen to Food for Thought regularly, you know that I already have a small kitchen and a large basement full of cooking equipment, including every item listed above. But, you-know-who refused to shut his pie hole regarding the Instant Pot, so, in the name of science — to say nothing of silence — I bought one. And now I can’t shut up about it.
I purchased the 6-quart LUX model (about $80 at Fred Meyer). I love it but must admit that there is a definite learning curve.
I’ve been climbing that curve over the past weeks with the help of some well-written cookbooks – and by joining the nearly 1.5 million-member Instant Pot Community on Facebook where there’s always someone to answer your IP questions.
And speaking of questions...
“Why do they call it an Instant Pot, when, given how much time it takes to come up to pressure, cook, and then release all that pressure, it’s not ‘instant’ at all?”
Answer: "Beats me!"
That said, it does cook things faster than I can on the stovetop. It definitely intensified flavors in my soups, stews and Bolognese sauce. It steams wonderfully, and when it’s hot out there’s no need to turn on the oven – you can even bake a cake in it. And unlike many cooking projects, clean-up is limited to just the one pot.
I haven’t used my IP as a slow cooker yet, but I have pressure cooked more than a dozen times. I’ve made the famous Indian Butter Chicken recipe twice, and was so impressed with it I purchased the Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by “Butter-Chicken Lady” Urvashi Pitre, profiled in The New Yorker.
I was so crazy about that recipe that I took my Instant Pot to Stein’s house in Tacoma and insisted he make it himself. He was far less impressed, but what else is new?
Other Instant Pot revelations
I’ve hard-boiled eggs that slipped magically from their shells, and steamed an artichoke in half the time it would have taken on the stove. I’ve made the best beef barley soup my husband has ever eaten (courtesy of Multicooker Perfection, from the folks at America’s Test Kitchens) and smoked turkey and bean soup without pre-soaking the beans. I’ve made corned beef and cabbage (finished with a honey-mustard glaze in the oven) and IP’d some fabulous Syracuse salt-brined potatoes from a recipe found online.
Why, yes it makes excellent stock from a couple of leftover duck carcasses (I’ll never make chicken stock on the stove again!); and I’ve successfully used my Instant Pot to steam the ribs in that incredible Sichuan cumin rib-recipe that Stein and I can’t stop raving about.
Granted, I had a messy old school-pressure-cooker accident while making a quick pint of really good strawberry jam. Important tip: make sure the silicone sealing ring is securely fastened into the lid.
I like the IP so much that I’ve granted R2D2 a place of honor in my Japanese tansu cabinet along with my traditional Dutch ovens. I love slow cookery and find joy in standing by the stove, spoon in hand, so I didn’t think I’d want something that made cooking less hands-on, but I was wrrr . . . wrrrrrrr . . . wrong.
"Women tend to lag in adopting new technology quickly." – Julie Sweet
"Sez you!" – Nancy Leson