6 Foods You Should Try with Your Instant Pot
BY JULIE VAN ROSENDAAL, DINNER WITH JULIE
Sep 24, 2018
The Instant Pot, a two-in-one slow cooker/pressure cooker with added functions to cook rice and make yogurt, was last year’s it purchase. The internet exploded with tips, tricks and recipes (technically you can make wine with it, but that doesn’t mean you should) and cookbooks extolling the virtues of cooking under pressure.
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Before the rebranding of pressure cookers with the Instant Pot, there was a general fear of pressure cooking — everyone had heard stories of someone’s grandma having hers explode in her kitchen, spewing hot soup everywhere. And surely these accidents have happened — there are far more safety measures in place in the latest iterations of the centuries-old kitchen gadget, which cuts cooking time to about a third by utilizing pressure.
A pressure cooker is the opposite of a slow cooker, which cooks food low and slow over several hours. But when you hear people gush about their Instant Pots, it’s almost always the pressure cooker function they’re amazed by. Some love the fact that you can make yogurt in it, others love that you can put in frozen meat straight from the freezer — a no-no with slow cookers. While my only issue with the Instant Pot was that I didn’t feel like I was cooking when I couldn’t see or smell the food, I realize that many love their gadgets, and if they’ve made mealtimes a bit faster and easier, they’re worth a try.
Here are some of the best uses I’ve found for the Instant Pot:
Hard boiled eggs
People are excited about hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot, but it’s worth noting that five minute hard-boiled eggs actually took over 16 minutes to cook when you include bringing the pot to pressure and the time it takes to depressurize, even using the quick-release valve. However, the cooked eggs peeled cleanly and easily, and peeling is one of the biggest challenges of hard-boiled eggs, especially when you’re making devilled eggs. So it’s worth it if you have to make them in quantity, or want them to look immaculate.
I’ll try anything to reduce the dry bean cooking process — as with the stovetop method, there’s no need to pre soak unless you want to streamline things a bit. A batch of dry black beans took 25 minutes of programmed time, plus pressurizing and depressurizing (under 10 minutes each), and a pot of dry white beans pressure cooked with a ham hock took under an hour. I imagine baked beans would do well here too, if chopped onions and sweet-tangy sauce ingredients were added to the beans after cooking, and brought back up to pressure again. Ditto curries — I love a good chickpea curry, and dry chickpeas can be cooked first, before adding the spices, tomatoes and coconut cream and bringing the pot up to pressure again. Or add a clove or two of garlic and keep cooking them until they’re ultra-soft, then mash into a rough hummus right in the pot.
Soup and stock
All soups will do well in the Instant Pot, although most don’t require a particularly long cooking time on the stovetop either, so it won’t necessarily save much time. Still, you can throw any number of ingredients into the pot along with some stock, tomatoes, or even water, and mimic a long cooking time. When it’s time to make stock, a pressure cooker is a star — toss in a chicken carcass, veggie scraps, or whatever you want to make stock out of, along with plenty of water, and they will transform into a lovely batch of stock to use in your soups, stews or braises, or to freeze for later.
Stews and braised dishes are classic Instant Pot fare; typically needing 2 1/2-3 hours in the oven, tough cuts of meat can be done in an hour or less in a pressure cooker. (All kinds, not just the Instant Pot.)
Pulled pork and ribs
Pork shoulder needs a long, slow cooking time to break down the tough connective tissues, thus it’s popularity among outdoor smokers. It’s a perfect candidate for the Instant Pot — add some thinly sliced onion and bottled barbecue sauce and you’ll end up with tender pulled pork in a fraction of the time, without turning on the oven. Ditto ribs, which require extra time to become fall-off-the-bone tender; the Instant Pot will get them onto the table much faster and contain the mess.
If you find yourself with a glut of apples in the fall, the Instant Pot makes quick work of them. Add cored, chopped apples to the pot (peeled if you like) along with sugar and a cinnamon stick, and let it do its thing. I sometimes add chopped rhubarb or plums to my applesauce, too. Or add some vinegar and spices to your chopped fruit and sugar and let it make a batch of chutney to freeze for the winter.
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