Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Instant Pot - First Reactions

Seven functions in one device? One pot cooking? Easy weeknight meals? The Instant Pot sounds like magic. But is it really all everyone says it is?


I wanted an Instant Pot for a couple of years after reading about it on my favorite cooking blog, the kitchn, but there were a couple of reasons why I held off. First of all, it is expensive. Secondly, it is a big "small" appliance. I hate having a cluttered counter in the kitchen. But when it went on sale during Amazon Prime days and I could get it at 50% off, I went for it.

So far, I've used it four times. I made steel cut outs, rice pilaf, white rice, and salsa chicken for burritos. Here's how it went:

  1. Steel cut oats: Easy. Took only a few minutes of pressure cooking. I was surprised at how long it takes for the machine to build pressure, and how long it takes for a "natural release" of the pressure. The recipes make it seem like "cook oats in 5 minutes!" but that's not really true. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish, which is still faster than stovetop and the cleanup was easy.
  2. Rice pilaf: Wow! I have a treasured homemade rice pilaf recipe from Cooks Illustrated Magazine, which involves browning vermicelli in butter, adding a shredded onion and a garlic clove, then toasting the soaked rice before adding in stock. The original stovetop recipe has you cook the rice for about 15 minutes on the burner until the liquid is mostly evaporated, then putting a towel over the pot under the lid and taking it off the heat for another 10 minutes. In the Instant Pot, I was able to do all the browning and cooking using the saute function, then pressure cook the rice. It came out better than the original, and again, easy clean up.
  3. White rice: Used the "rice" button with a rice to liquid ratio of 1:1.5. Came out perfect, easy clean up.
  4. Salsa chicken: Was looking to make a shredded chicken to go in burritos, so I used this recipe from the blog flavorrd. It was super easy, and I made it from FROZEN chicken breasts! It came out really good, but I think next time I will season the chicken with some cumin and chili powder, then brown it before throwing in the salsa and pressure cooking it. 
Overall, I love it so far and it really IS the magical appliance that everyone says it is. Easy quick cooking, and easy to clean. Tonight, I'm cooking a sausage pasta dish. I'll let you know how it goes!