Have you caught on to the InstantPot craze? This genius appliance was all the rage last year, so I’m late to the game on this one. But I’m hooked. Big time!
The Instantpot, or InstatPot (I see it written both ways) is an electronic programmable pressure cooker, that also works as a steamer and slow cooker. https://instantpot.com/ For those of you new to pressure cooking, the principle is that steam builds up in the pot and cooks food faster with high pressure steam. It’s an old technique used by many different cultures to create all types of dishes. The main advantage of pressure cooking is speed (you can cook rice in 4 minutes!), but it’s also it’s ability to tenderize tough meat (think ribs, or pulled pork, stews) and create rich and deep sauces (like tomato sauces, soups and broths, curries etc…).
I’m not new to pressure cooking- I’ve owned a pressure cooker for years, but using it has been tricky because food tends to burn on the bottom and by the time I smell it, it’s too late. The seal also goes every once in a while so I have to replace parts, which scares me because if I get it wrong, I’m sitting on a big pot of hot liquid that is pressurized and not sealed properly! So I didn’t use my pressure cooker that often.
Growing up in France in the late 70s, almost all of the moms and grandmothers I knew used a pressure cooker. The definitive cookbook at the time was made by SEB (a major french appliance company), and was an unassuming little hard cover with 300 recipes ranging from pig’s tails with lentils and braised rabbit with prunes to duck with olives and veal hearts.
Yup. A little dated, but Oh so French! I own two copies of this book, and despite the more questionnable offal (see what I did there!) recipes, there are some amazing ones like coq au vin, and potatoes with white wine that I still turn to.
But when I got the InstantPot for Christmas, I fell in love with pressure cooking all over again. With this ingenious machine, you can sear and saute right in the pot, add the rest of your ingredients, close it, set it and walk away. No scary steam hissing out of the top. It even stops if the bottom starts to burn. A polite chime tells me when my food is ready.
I immediately went out and bought four cookbooks and have cooked something from one of them almost every day since January 1! My kids are starting to wonder if I’m going to try to make toast and coffee in the InstantPot!
To date, we’ve enjoyed the following recipes:
Israeli couscous, tomato and bocconcini salad (a big hit)
Ancho chicken carnitas (another hit)
Butter chicken (applause all around) with cauliflower “rice” (that my carb loving 14 year old son actually ate!)
Curried red lentil soup (my own creation- delicious)
Kung Pao chickpeas and steamed rice (all cook in the same pot at the same time- genius!)
Peanut Butter Crunch Granola Bars (made with sunflower butter because of allergies- I messed something up on this one, so it didn’t really work)
Flourless Banana Oat cake- redeemed myself and knocked this out of the park
Creamy chicken and brown rice- comforting and delicious
This weekend I’m having four families to our place for an Indian Feast- we have nut allergies, lactose intolerance and celiacs to deal with. No problem. On the menu will be Chickpea salad, Aloo Gobi (potatoes with cauliflower), Chicken Vindaloo and Lamb Rogan Josh. I may also make peas with spinach. Steamed rice all around, and lots and lots of cold beer. And yes, everything but the beer will come from the InstantPot. You’d think I work for the company! (which I definitely don’t).
To be clear- I’m a busy person. While I love cooking, weeknight cooking for a family is not my fave, and I don’t have a ton of time. None of these recipes took more than 20 min of prep and 20-30 minutes of cooking. Dinner on the table in less than an hour from start to finish, with a good 20-30 minutes of time doing sweet nothing.
Or at least nothing to do with cooking; homework, laundry and washing up still have to be done. Sigh.
PS: If there are any Instant Pot recipes that you love, please let me know! Would love to try them out :)