Every Black Friday and Amazon Prime day I have let the Instant Pot deals pass me by. But after the new year, I decided it was finally time to purchase an Instant Pot (at full price) and see if this thing was really as life-changing as everyone claimed.
I didn’t really understand what a pressure cooker was, but it now seems to me like a cross between a Crock Pot and a microwave – slow cooker results but really, really fast. One of the reasons the green and healthy living communities loves the Instant Pot so much is that there is no Teflon or toxic nonstick material – just stainless steel. For me, the biggest fears were being overwhelmed and lack of counter space. But I went with a 6-quart option and was pleased to find that it really wasn’t that big and made plenty of food for stockpiling.
Some things to know which I am really glad friends warned me about in advance:
- There are a lot of settings so it looks super scary. But in reality you might only use “Pressure Cook” and “Sautee.” Start with those.
- Preheating can take 10-15 minutes. No one seems to account for that in recipe time so it’s something to bear in mind.
- When you release the steam, that thing can blow for a good 3-5 minutes.
My first experiment was the chocolate lava cake from the accompanying recipe book. It only took a couple minutes to mix together the ingredients, which we doubled so we could make two little cakes. The cook time was only 10 minutes and it turned out fancy AF.
The next day I was up for a challenge so I decided to Instant-Potify my Bubbie’s chicken vegetable soup. This is a recipe that usually instructs me to pour a pot of boiling water over a kosher chicken and spend hours “skimming the dreck” from the top of the pot. There are also no real measurements in her oral telling of recipes so there will similarly be no real measurements here.
Here is how I did it in under an hour:
- Chop up onions, celery, sweet potato, carrots, and any other vegetables you want to throw on the saute setting for about 8-10 minutes (lid off).
- Throw in chicken legs and thighs, chopped green beans, a can of tomato paste, salt, pepper, parsley, dill, and enough water to almost reac the top. Set the Pressure Cook for 12 minutes.
- When you open it up you will be amazed – but you aren’t done yet! Throw in some pasta (I like ditalini for this) and a bag of frozen peas. Set the Pressure Cook for another 2 minutes.
- That’s it. You are down. Don’t forget to take out the chicken to remove the bones which will just fall off!
For my next challenge, I wanted to do a beef stew. Most of the recipes I found had more steps than I was interested in performing, including browning meat and taking items in and out of the pot.
I decided to use some of the basic guidance to do my own recipe which would require less steps and prep time, and created some pretty awesome beef stew in less than an hour (only 10 minutes of prep time).
I diced onions, celery, and garlic and stirred on sautee setting while chopping potatoes, mushrooms, and carrots. I added in the rest of the vegetables and stirred for a few minutes and then topped it off with two pounds of grass-fed stew beef, a can of tomato paste, about 24 ounces of chicken broth, a bag of frozen peas, a dash of fish sauce, a dash of soy sauce (I use liquid amino acids), and some salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. I pushed “Stew/Beef” setting and left it. It beeped that it was finished about 45 minutes later (actual cook time was around 35 – took about 10 minutes for the pressure to build.)
That was it – it was delicious and even with the six quart I’ve got plenty to stockpile in the freezer.
After three successful experiments, I would say the Instant Pot was a worthwhile purchase and new kitchen staple. I’m excited to explore more – here are links to a few of my friend’s reviews and recipes!