I started seeing posts about it early last year. There seemed to be a lot of talk on social media about a kitchen gadget that was “life changing.” I’m a bit of a sucker for kitchen gadgets, but I’m not usually swayed by gushing in tweets and Facebook posts that sound like ads, so I just sat back and watched for a while. By the time Black Friday rolled around and Amazon put the near-mythical Instant Pot on sale, I was really tempted to buy it. I’d seen a few friends who were not necessarily follow-every-trend people who really liked owning one of the electronic pressure cookers, and I seriously considered it. But I put it off, and I missed that particular Black Friday deal.
By the time Prime Day rolled around this year, I knew I wanted one, though. I heard rumors of being able to cook frozen chicken breasts to perfection in under an hour. Of using the one pot enclosed to sautée and brown and then lock down under pressure to finish the meal. Of cooking pasta and its sauce all in one pot without worrying about stirring.
And, believe it or not, one of the biggest selling points for me: perfectly done hard-boiled eggs that peel neatly every time.
I picked up my Instant Pot (IP) at our local WalMart, whose price was identical to Amazon. (There are plenty of brick-and-mortar stores where you can buy them.) I left it in its box until I went on vacation so I’d have a chance to play with it a little bit. The first thing I did was to test out the hard-boiled eggs. One cup of water in the bottom of the IP, put the eggs on the trivet (I have since purchased a small steamer basket to be able to do more eggs at once), seal the top and hit the “EGG” button. Five minutes of pressure later (it does take 15-20 minutes to reach pressure), and the IP beeps. I set up an ice bath, allowing the steam to release naturally for five more minutes, then I use the quick release function and take the top off. I carefully take the eggs out of the IP and put them into the ice bath for five more minutes, then I pop them into the fridge. They peel perfectly, and I rarely have eggs split open during the cooking process. This simply 5-5-5 method for eggs has been fantastic! I am always able to keep hard-boiled eggs on hand now, whereas before (thanks to my electric stove), I rarely did so because I could never quite get the timing right. And even when I did, they never peeled nicely, so deviled eggs were right out.
I’ve discovered that while the Facebook IP groups can be helpful, I’ve found more of what I need on Pinterest, where I now keep both an IP recipe board and an IP helps and hints board. There, I’ve found recipes that are becoming regulars in our dinner rotations: Chicken Pot Pie Casserole (which my daughter’s boyfriend says will be a must at their wedding reception if they ever get married), meatballs and penne pasta (starting with dry pasta and frozen meatballs), Creamy Italian Chicken and Penne, and Seven Minute Shrimp Alfredo. (That Shrimp Alfredo is what’s for dinner this Friday!)
This doesn’t even count the recipes I’ve created based on the idea of having at least a cup of liquid in the pot. I often will put frozen chicken breasts with some kind of sauce into the pot and set the IP for 25 minutes, then remove the chicken when it’s done and thicken the sauce. I’ve used crockpot recipes under pressure (making adjustments according to instructions easily found online), including pot roast. Oh, and did I mention making potatoes in it? Scrub the potatoes, pop them into the IP in a steamer basket with a cup of water, and set your IP for 10 minutes. Half an hour (including pressure buildup), no pricking potatoes, and they come out delicious and tender!
I’ve really loved my IP, though I’m not ready to go out and get multiples at this point. It’s been a great help now that I’m working part-time, and it’s easy enough to use that my kids have thrown things together for me if I can’t get home early enough.
One thing I do recommend is getting online to find recipes and help when you start out. The IP was designed by engineers, and they wrote the manual, too. It’s detailed, but a little on the awkward side. I also recommend investing in a few accessories, like a steamer basket, an extra silicone ring, and, if you’re going to try baking, some small pots that fit inside the IP insert. (There are companies that specialize in these.) For me, I’ve been doing well with a steamer basket and an extra ring, one recipe book that I found online for a discount, and my Pinterest boards.
Do you have an IP? What’s your favorite recipe? Look up the board I’m sharing with Barb over on Pinterest!
Copyright 2017 Christine Johnson