Friday, April 1, 2016

Instant Pot, Semi-Instant Food

For the past few months I've seen many a blog post about this thing called "Instant Pot" and how it revolutionized food prep in many a kitchen. We have a small pressure canner, and Greg thinks I could cook in it, but I don't. I don't even use it for canning much of anything, but my mother instilled in me a deep and permanent fear of the pressure canner, even though I know in my head that what I have is many times safer than what she used. 
So, I have three crockpots, and Jess has hers here, too. That's a lot of real estate taken up by four different sizes of the same appliance. Yet, I use all four, sometimes two or three at the same time. I appreciate being able to cook a meal or make a big pot of sauce or beans to portion for the freezer, all while not having to tend to it much. But, it did take hours and hours, then there was a big, heavy, hot, dirty ceramic crock to deal with. 
No one had to twist my arm when I had a few Amazon gift cards and could pay for half the cost of this new one-pot-stop that not only pressure cooks beans in a tiny fraction of the time the crockpot can, but it also cooks pasta with sauce, makes hard-cooked eggs perfectly, and cooked potatoes for our Easter potato salad in, you guessed it, a fraction of the time it normally takes.
Steamed asparagus was the first food in the pot. It needed just a another half minute or so, but that was my error. I was more worried about over-cooking it. Next up was supper - pasta with meat sauce. The meat and some onion were sauteed in the pot, then I drained the meat before pouring in the full box of penne. I poured the sauce over the top and added a touch of water so the liquid covered the pasta. The timer gets set for half the number of minutes the box says to cook. It takes a few minutes for the pot to come to pressure, then six minutes later, Presto! A big pot of deliciousness.

Later, I cooked five pounds of potatoes for potato salad in 20 minutes. I made the mistake of using high pressure instead of steaming, so some of the potatoes "popped" out of their skins, but they still worked for the salad. I just cooled the potatoes on a rack, then refrigerated overnight.

On Sunday morning, we ran out of boiled eggs before finishing our Easter lunch salads, so I popped seven of them in the IP and 18 minutes later they were cooled and peeled. It was exciting to cut the first one open and see a beautiful yellow yolk with no gray ring. Then to have them peel perfectly even though I'd just purchased the eggs the day before, made me giggle a little.

On Monday I tried frozen chicken breasts and salsa. In about 40 minutes I had tender shreddable Mexican chicken for quesadillas. In the crockpot this would have taken a few hours and the texture would have been drier.  


On Tuesday, I had to try the beans. Dry beans, rinsed well, covered in water in the IP. In less than an hour they were cooked and mashed for refried beans. LESS THAN AN HOUR.

I didn't use it on Wednesday. Yesterday I had to work over the supper hour, Jess and Scott had a Kindergarten meeting for Silas, and Bradley had wrestling practice. I could foresee chaos reigning the evening. While cleaning out the refrigerator to get ready for the weekend, I popped some leftover roast beef and a package of pasta in the pot with some beef stock. In 10 minutes their supper was cooling on the counter. All they did was reheat and serve with the veggie tray I left for them. It worked out great. Greg could have made the meal himself, but he's not used the IP yet, and was reluctant to try it while he was watching the boys. After he plays with it awhile, he'll be happy to whip up quick meals when I'm at work.

Why did we invest in this new appliance? First, because of the time saved while cooking. Typically you cut cooking time in half, sometimes even more. Second, space. I can now put my four crock pots  and the steamer in storage and that will free up quite a lot of room on the shelf, allowing for better organization in that space. Cooking with pressure keeps more nutrients and color in the food, and I've found the meat to be moist and not mealy like it gets in the crock pot sometimes. It also saves on dirty dishes when you can toss everything into one easy to clean pot.

Why did we choose Instant Pot over the other electric pressure cookers? Greg did some research before we decided to buy, and the IP is the only one with a stainless steel pot. The others have a non-stick lining and we didn't want that. We purchased from Amazon.

There are many tips I'm picking up as I peruse online recipes for the Instant Pot. There are also many recipes we want to try. I'm putting together a list of blogs with good pressure cooker recipes and will post those in the near future. Right now I need to go read about how to make the chicken stock.


8 comments:

  1. Thanks, Tammy for the details and insights! I am thinking about this!!

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    1. Let me know if you get one. I'd love to compare notes.

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  2. Thank you so much for your review! This is pushing me to buy one...I think I'm getting there. :-)

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    1. I think you would really like it.

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  3. My dad has been wanting one. I'm going to tell him about your post.

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    1. I'm still very much a newbie, but recommend it to anyone who cooks much.

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  4. I suggested this to Bess this morning while talking with her. She uses her crockpot a lot but this would give her a second option when her mornings get away from her. I'm going to share your post with Katie, Virginia, Amie and Bess.

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  5. This is quite an appliance and I'm so glad you gave us an in depth review. I'm not buying one right away but I am sure going to keep considering it.
    Happy cooking to you !

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Thanks for sharing!