It’s a cult, I tell you, these Instant Pots. One pot to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them in the Land of Mordor, where the shadows lie. Sorry. Wrong genre. I got a little carried away.*
But how else do you explain the appeal of the latest foodie gizmo, a single gadget that functions as a slow cooker, rice cooker, pressure cooker, vegetable steamer, sauté pan and yogurt maker? It boils eggs, makes cheesecake and would probably tie my shoelaces if I asked it nicely. I mused for a few days whether I wanted one, and the spouse upped and bought it, even though I assured him he had already bought me a very generous birthday present. Today it arrived. And the adventure began.
I admit the warnings, both on the pot, and in the Facebook Instant Pot Community (414,174 members as of today), are pretty daunting, and I read horror stories of people storing their gadget on the stove, and then switching a burner on (cue melted pot), or pouring liquid into the pot’s housing rather than into the pot itself (the electronics don’t seem to like that much). It has more buttons than a microwave, and a lot of very irritating beeps, marking the on-off moments, the up-to-pressure moments and the what-if-I-change-my-mind moments. So in a day of get-to-know you experiments, I boiled water, hard-boiled (hard-steamed?) four eggs, almost followed the Instant Pot recipe book for a distressingly tasteless dal and cooked a cup of brown rice. I’m not hooked yet, but I’m definitely curious. This adventure could be fun.
I’ll skim over the pressure-cooked water, which is the recommended way to test that the pot is working as advertised, and the eggs, which admittedly did peel very nicely after pressure steaming according to the internet’s consensus 5:5:5 rule. Put eggs on trivet, slosh half a cup of water into the pot, then cook for five minutes at pressure, wait five minutes on keep-warm mode to let the pressure come down a bit and then cool for five minutes in cold water. The lentil dish (lentils, onions, garlic, red pepper, spices, apple cider, water and home-canned tomatoes) was very quick and very easy, but it definitely needed a lot more oomph, as well as a very generous dose of salt. This was a recipe with no salt and no fat, both of which add taste, and I consider the recipe a fail. I should have trusted my instincts and used the saute function to fry my onions/garlic/pepper mix before adding the other ingredients. And I should have added more (and different) spices.
Then I followed the instruction manual’s recipe for “perfect brown rice” which called for a ratio of 2.5 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. Hmm. My rice tasted good, but it had not absorbed all its cooking water after the recommended 22 minutes at pressure and then 14 on keep-hot mode. Was my rice to old, or was the recipe (which was also lacking salt) wonky? I’ll never know, but I will try again, and I certainly liked the cooking speed.
Conclusions: Ignore the confusing buttons and do everything manually, and add salt to everything to taste. The eggs are very, very easy, and yes, the peel well. I have not figured out a final answer to the tasteless dal – the sealed lid of the pressure cooker means you can’t just taste your dish as it cooks. But I’ll get there. It definitely wasn’t bad.
Any favourite things out there that I should be doing when I play with the new toy?
*Apologies to Tolkien fans.