Technology in the kitchen
December 4, 2015
I have a new toy.
I think I’m going to love it.
This, as the brand name would indicate, is an Instant Pot, and I think it will have the potential to change life in the kitchen as I know it.
First off, it will replace both my CrockPot and my rice cooker. It will give me a pressure cooker, something I have not had in a long time. It will give me a handy-dandy method for steaming veggies or other stuff. And I can saute’ stuff and slow-cook it in the same pot, just by changing a setting.
My only quarrel is that I kinda miss the “jiggle” of the pressure relief valve on the old stove-top pressure cooker. That was kinda fun to listen to.
A food forum to which I belong has a topic on the Instant Pot, which has apparently been growing in popularity since its introduction a year or so ago. It appears you can do about anything except fly to the Moon in the thing.
And of course, everyone put them on a big-time sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So I ordered one.
I will admit it was a tad intimidating when I took it out of the box. Its control panel looks rather like a spaceship bridge. It has settings for saute, steam, slow cook, pressure cook, soups/stews, and assorted other stuff. It has a detailed instruction manual, which I read, carefully.
I took it for its test run, as suggested, bringing three cups of water up to pressure, steaming it for 2 minutes, and then letting the pressure release. OK. That was simple. Dumped the water (the cooking takes place in a stainless steel removable vessel, much like a straight-sided, flat-bottomed steel mixing bowl that I can only imagine goes right in the dishwasher to clean up) and set about making my first dish in it.
I chose a beef stew. First, I sauteed the salted, peppered and floured chunks of stew beef. Used the saute function, left the lid off. Worked just fine. Took the browned beef out, left the pot on, added a bit more oil, and sauteed some onion, carrot and garlic. Let the onion get soft, added seasonings (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme…sing it with me, here …) and a bottle of Green Flash Double Stout. Added the beef and juices back in, left it on saute with the lid off while I peeled and diced potatoes.
Added the potatoes, and on reflection, a pint of beef broth, which may have been a bit too much (you don’t lose any liquid to evaporation), and put the lid on. Shifted the setting to “soup/stew.” Perusal of my pressure cooker cookbook I’d ordered told me it would need 20 minutes; I gave it 25 for good measure. And I went away.
In 25 minutes, it beeped at me. In another 10, the pressure had released, and it had automatically switched itself over to the “keep warm” setting. I popped the lid and took a look. Looked like beef stew. Sampled a piece of beef and one of potato. Yep. Tasted like beef stew. Like beef stew that had cooked for hours. And start to finish, it took me less than 60 minutes.
Yeah, I think I’m gonna love this thing. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come on over and we’ll try something else new in it.