If there were a miniseries about my life, it would be something like “Adventures Alone with Kitchen Appliances.” I’ve taken you through my re-discovery of my childhood blender that’s lasted the test of time. Now, I’m going through the wonders of Instant Pot.
The appliance arrived at my door last month, and it’s replaced many of my other kitchen appliances. This programmable electric pressure cooker isn’t just for stews. It’s for a wide variety of recipes, some of which are your traditional picks. Or maybe perhaps your new home signatures. You’ll also be surprised that it doesn’t just have hot settings but also cold settings to make yogurt. Yes, you read that right!
Before I go any further, let me state that I’m like a little child when it comes to appliances. If it’s not easy to operate, I will call for my mother. I, unfortunately, can’t do that right now. I have to stick to doing it myself for the sake of this review too.
Perhaps Instant Pot anticipated my personality type. The pressure cooker is a smart machine that provides presets and modes to match what you’re cooking. Options included in the interface are Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, and Slow Cook. For your carbs, there’s Rice, Multigrain, and Porridge. If you need to cook some vegetables or some pan-searing action, there’s also Steam and Sauté. Not to mention, the tone it uses to indicate that the food’s ready sounds like the prompt from a ’90s video game.
The user manual provides a neat chart on how to match the right program with the right mode of Less, Normal, or More. It’s quite specific. Al dente white rice is created by setting your Rice program to less. If you need steam fish, you set it at the normal mode.
These permutations mean you can get creative with your dishes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed like I was at first, you can stick to the recipes in the accompanying cookbook. I cooked Beef Roast with Potatoes & Carrots One Pot Meal. It takes about 40 minutes to an hour, involving just dumping the ingredients one by one. The meat came out so tender; you would think it was slow-cooked for hours.
My next foray was Crème Brûlée. With the wire rack provided, and my cappuccino cups, I managed to pull it off in exactly 10 minutes. Sure, the taste could be tweaked a bit; I wish it were sweeter. That, however, is a matter of preference.
I should mention that I made those two recipes within the first two days of getting the Instant Pot. The next day, I cooked the Ligurian Lemon Chicken.
In the following days, I moved beyond the recipes found in the cookbook. In less than 10 minutes, you get the perfect Garlic Butter Shrimps. I also tried my hand at making Chinese Ribs, Roasted Potatoes, and every other dish I thought I could only get at a fancy restaurant.
If you’re stumped with ideas on what to cook, Google is your friend. Instant Pot recipes abound, made by fellow owners of the appliance. There are also adaptations of classic recipes that do without the need for a full kitchen. Instant Pot takes on the job of a pressure cooker, sauté pan, steamer, slow cooker, rice cooker, food warmer, and yogurt maker. I even saw my friend bake a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. That’s definitely going on my “to-cook list.”
I find that the Instant Pot is ideal for big servings. It easily handles recipes good for four to 10 persons or more. You get your ingredients, select the right preset, and you’re done. Hours are saved, and the flavor isn’t compromised.
On top of that, cleaning isn’t a chore. Carefully wash the inner pot with a delicate sponge. For the outer pot, wipe it with a damp cloth. Alternatively, the inner pot is dishwasher safe.
As the nights get colder with the rain, I’m looking forward to making elaborate soups and stews. Instant Pot manages to make you feel more confident in experimenting with different cuisines, with a push of a button, well, one of the buttons.