I’d deliberated about an Instant Pot for a while now, and, in fact, a couple years ago bought an electric pressure cooker from Aldi. I read through the instructions and concluded that the time savings wasn’t really that impressive, considering that the cooking time may be minimal but the time required to pre-heat and to de-pressurize afterwards can be substantial. “For as long as it takes, I might as well just keep using my crockpot,” I said, and returned it.
But in the meantime, I’ve had a number of instances where I have a crock pot-using recipe in mind, but then don’t get around to actually putting it in the pot in time. So this, plus the appeal of being able to use the same device as a rice cooker and a slow cooker, and the fact that I learned they’re now being sold at Target rather than just on Amazon, meant that I decided to go ahead.
Here it is:
Yes, it’s a 6 qt. version, and a 7-in-1 model — apparently there’s a 9-in-1 that makes cakes as well, but that wasn’t on the shelves at Target. (And, of the seven functions, several are not so impressive — “warmer”? “steamer”? And I’m unlikely to take it out for a spin as a yogurt-maker.)
I had my first trial run tonight: chicken thighs with spaghetti (marinara) sauce, a recipe that I usually make in the crockpot. It’s as simple as dumping spaghetti sauce and chicken thighs together — though it requires a final step, that of cooking down the resulting fairly runny sauce. (Maybe if I made my own sauce with tomato paste and seasonings it wouldn’t be necessary but I never have.) The green bits are spinach that I cooked separately (I just used the same serving spoon).
Was it lightning fast? No, not really — it took 40 minutes to go through all three parts of preheat, cook, and natural release. I could have tried a quick release but it wasn’t clear enough to me exactly how much liquid is “too much” to do a quick release. But I’m not rushing to cook dinner quickly as often as I used to be — yet at the same time, often have days where I have to dash out and pick up a kid from somewhere just before dinner, so that this duration wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, if it’s a matter of getting it started and then doing the pick-up and coming back to dinner that’s nearly ready, especially since it has a “keep warm” program that automatically kicks in after the cooking is finished.Will it replace the rice cooker? I’d probably still want to have it handy for those sorts of meals where rice is the side dish to whatever is crock-potted/pressure-cooked. It would probably replace the crock pot, though. And I like the saute feature, since presumably it should give a flavor boost to those recipes where I skip the meat browning because it’s too much work to do so in a separate pan.
But here’s one thing I haven’t figured out: the crock pot and the rice cooker are both small enough to be tucked away in a kitchen cabinet when not in use. The Instant Pot? Not so much. Which means that I’d have the breadmaker, the Instant Pot, and the stand mixer permanently on the counter. Maybe it’s time for that kitchen remodel . . .
And the other thing that’s odd is that there seems to be a significant Chinese customer base, judging from the fact that the instruction book included Chinese as a language, and small included recipe book was English and Chinese. This NPR article on the rise of the Canadian-invented Instant Pot doesn’t mention any Chinese connection — is it a favorite among the Chinese? Among the Chinese-Canadian immigrant community?
Anyway, readers, please share your Instant Pot experiences (and resist the temptation to make jokes about the other sort of pot).