For my birthday this year I got the most romantic gift of an Instant Pot 😉 I actually asked for it, so no complaints here!
I have been watching one of my favorite recipe bloggers Michele Tam of Nom Nom Paleo use hers and post recipes so I was excited to get one. I have an older Revere Ware Meals-in-Minutes electric pressure cooker that I loved using, but it is getting a little old. The pressure release valve has had a little bit of trouble keeping the pressure in (no doubt partially because of the dog teeth marks on it from a previous furry friend) and the “non-stick” coating is wearing out some. It’s also kind of small; only 4 quarts, compared to the 6 quart Instant Pot. Another big difference is that the Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 cooker – Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer. Not that I really need most of those functions as I already have a yogurt maker, 3 slow cookers, and a rice cooker (which I haven’t used since I quit eating grains). It is nice to have all of these functions in one item though. Many of the things that I make in a pressure cooker do need to be sauteed or browned first, and it’s nice to keep things warm if you aren’t going to eat right away. I liked the idea of the yogurt maker so that I could make larger batches instead of making it in the little jars that come with mine.
The first thing that I made was Instant Pot Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup from Nom Nom Paleo. Fairly easy to do and all in one pot! From saute to pressure cook to blending with an immersion blender to keeping warm. Awesome!
Next, I tried Nom Nom Paleo’s Pressure Cooker Kalua Pig. Again, easy and quick. Cook the pork. Remove the pork and add cabbage. Cook the cabbage. Eat together! Yum 🙂
I made a couple of other meat/stew type recipes and of course, they came out great. Not much different than my old pressure cooker, but I really like the stainless steel pot in the Instant Pot. It’s easy to clean and healthier I think than whatever that stuff is they put on the non-stick pot. The size makes it better too since I don’t feel I’m cramming too much in but it doesn’t take up any more room on the counter.
One thing I saw that I had to try was making hard-boiled eggs in it. OMG! These come out perfect! I was a little nervous, thinking “what if they explode in there?” but it was easy as can be and they came out great. Truthfully, probably not too much easier or faster than boiling on the stovetop, but honestly, I always forget to check when they start boiling so they are never timed just right. And I worry that they bump together and break. It seems to be hit or miss whether they will peel easily or not. Not so when using the Instant Pot! Simple as one cup of water, a steamer basket with a few eggs (I did 6 the first time and 8 the second), set it to high pressure for 7 minutes, and let it be until it beeps. Release the pressure, remove the eggs, and put them in an ice-water bath to cool. Perfectly cooked and easy to peel! No watching the pot to boil.
I also made some yogurt. I used a half-gallon of milk (I usually use one quart) and a yogurt starter. I made the whole batch just in the pot. You can also heat the milk, add the starter, then transfer the milk to jars to incubate in the pot, but I didn’t want to go through all that. I still had to use my thermometer to check the temperature when heating and cooling the milk but it was all left in the pot from start to finish. I like to let mine incubate for 24 hours. The Instant Pot lets you set the time and leave it. My yogurt maker only times up to 11 hours so I always have to remember to reset the time or it will shut off. The yogurt came out okay but not as well as I would like. Probably because my starter is old. But it was runnier than what I usually get, which I think might be because the top is sealed on the Instant Pot but not on my yogurt maker. Having it sealed is good so that no other bacteria float in, like if you are making kombucha at the same time, but I like it a little thicker. Not Greek-yogurt thick, but not runny-soup thin. That’s probably why most of the recipes I found said to strain it. I did strain some of it after it cooled in the fridge and it was better. I will try again with a smaller batch.
Instead of white potatoes, which are nightshade vegetables that I am sensitive to, we eat a lot of rutabagas, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. I make a “mash” out of them, either individually or in some combination. Usually, I boil them, mash and then blend using an immersion blender. It’s often hard to drain them enough and get just the right consistency. I used the Instant Pot with the steamer basket and one cup of water at high pressure for 8 minutes. I also added in the bottom of the basket a little bit of leftover chopped leeks that I had from the curried cream of broccoli soup. They were cooked perfectly without any extra water. I layered the vegetables, starting with rutabagas which usually take the longest to cook, then the parsnips, and finally the sweet potato. When cooked I removed the steamer basket of vegetables, dumped the water out of the insert, and then dumped the vegetables back in, added about 2-3 tablespoons butter, some salt and pepper, then mashed and blended them as usual. These were much better than the boiled version!
The Instant Pot is a definite winning addition to my kitchen! I generally hate gadgets that are one-use specific so avoid those types of things. This isn’t one. It is versatile, easy to use, and easy to clean.
Update December 2020: I love this appliance so much that I bought an 8-quart model this month! The advantage of having 2 is that I can cook something like chili in one and rice in the other without having to switch to something else. Oh, and I don’t have my rice cooker anymore, so I did need something for that 😉