Saturday, October 8, 2016

my new Instant Pot

Recently the dial on my old slow cooker cracked and fell off. I was kind of happy, because I've been wanting to get a new one. One which has a timer and a "keep warm" setting.  Not necessary, but definitely nice to have since no one is home most of the day. Sure, I could use a pair of pliers to  turn it off and on, or I could scour eBay looking for a new knob, but I used it as an excuse to get something better.

I went online and asked for suggestions. Suggestions ranged from a Hamilton Beach model that has the settings I want, to just getting the same thing I have now, to the Instant Pot. I was intrigued by the Instant Pot and had never heard of it, so I researched the crap out of it. (Just like I always do when I need to buy something new.)

"What's the Instant Pot?", you say?  It's basically a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, and yogurt-maker (yes, it makes yogurt!) all rolled into one. That piqued my interest, because I've been wanting to try a pressure cooker, but couldn't justify spending the money, and I needed/wanted a new slow cooker. A rice cooker is nice, I guess. Never used one or felt I needed to use one, but what the hell?  I also liked the idea of being able to do my sauteing in the cooker and then switching over to the pressure cooker or slow cooker function. What's even better is that it would take up the same amount if space in the cabinet as my current slow cooker, which is important because I have a very tiny kitchen in a very old house with not a lot of storage or counter space. So, yeah, I bought it last weekend.

Looks pretty high-tech!

I ended up with the 6 quart version. They offer an 8 quart, but I'd read on several websites that the 6 quart got more use on a daily basis and might be overkill for anything other than a large family or special events.  

The lid has a venting valve for pressure cooking, and it turns and locks so you know it's closed. It also plays a little jingle when you open and close it.

As you can see, the inner pot is stainless steel, which means I don't have this giant stoneware pot taking up the whole sink and strainer when I wash it. Plus, it's not mega heavy like that other pot. It came with a basket/rack to use when steaming (or something...), a couple spoons, a measuring cup and a condensation catcher for when you pressure cook. And probably one of my favorite things:  the lid fits into the pot's handle so you don't have to stand in the middle of the kitchen with a dripping, scorching-hot lid, looking for a place to put it.

My first experiment was beef stew, since I had a big package of stew meat sitting in the freezer.  I found a recipe, which you can find here, and adapted it for my own use. (It's a paleo diet recipe that calls for arrowroot flour, which I don't have and am not about to go out and hunt down, and either lard, ghee or avocado oil, none of which I have; I used regular flour and a bit of olive oil.) I have to say, it was so awesome to brown the meat in the pot, throw all the other ingredients in, and then switch it to pressure cooker. I only had the one pot to clean. And the stew was great. It tasted like it had cooked for hours, but the meat wasn't totally falling apart and the veggies weren't disintegrated as they would be in a slow cooker. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the finished stew. Sorry! But it looks like your standard beef stew, so use your imagination.

I was worried about the pot not being hot enough to saute, but that was a needless worry; it did just as good as a frying pan for the most part. And it got up to saute temperature very quickly, so don't go sticking your fingers in to test the surface. (Not that I did that or anything...) The other thing I was worried about was the release of pressure after the pressure cooking was done. I used the natural release method, which means letting the pot sit on "keep warm" for 15 or 20 minutes and allowing it to depressurize naturally. After 20 minutes it didn't show any signs of releasing, so I turned the vent very, very slowly and released the pressure myself. I was worried the thing would explode, because I know that it's heated ingredients under pressure. I was fine though. Nothing happened. No explosions with beef stew on the ceiling or all over myself.

This weekend I plan to try making hard-cooked eggs, and maybe some seasoned rice. I'll let you know how it turns out.

If you want to check out this cooker, here's the link:  Instant Pot.

(And, yes, as soon as I got it home and then went to Walmart for something, I found at least three other brands that make the same kind of thing for less. Story of my life.)


  1. That looks like an awesome gadget. May buy one for myself!!

    1. If you don't want to spend 119.00 on the Instant Pot, Walmart had a few other brands ranging from 50.00-80.00. I'm loving it so far!