After years dabbling in slow cooking, I’ve recently become a pressure cooker convert.
The slow food movement conjures images of dedicated nature-lovers cultivating their own sourdough cultures or barbecue masters slowly roasting pigs in pits over several hours. Slow cooking is, in fact, very practical for tenderizing cheap cuts of meats with minimal energy. It also preserves most of the nutrients in vegetables. I have used a crock pot for many years and have several go-to slowcooker recipes such as Turkey Meat Loaf, Southern Gumbo and Hearty Mushroom Soup.
Slow cooking is awesome. But, I have a confession to make. The slow cooker is too slow. And most foods taste better with some initial searing and caramelization – which I hardly ever did with the slow cooker given the need to use a separate fry pan (extra dishes!). But the main issue is that I’m typically rushing to make dinner at 5:30pm, trying to get food on the table within 30 minutes. There’s no prep time in advance! I needed a solution to make cooking quicker but still tasty.
If you’re like me, you may have been scared of using a pressure cooker, perhaps fearing explosions or burns. I used to watch my mom using her old steel pressure cooker, hearing all the whistling and steaming noises, and her carefully releasing the pressure and then opening the lid. I later observed chefs on TV shows like Top Chef making tender ribs in 20 minutes using a pressure cooker. Even with that vague familiarity, I have always shied away from using a pressure cooker. That is, until my online research led me to purchase the Instant Pot 6-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker.
I am seriously SO HAPPY with this machine. Here’s why:
- browns/sautés on high heat – this is awesome for the quick sears needed to make many one-pot recipes much tasiter
- slow cooks on low heat – traditional slow cooking
- delay timer – can be programmed up to 24 hours in advance (if able to get act together in advance)
- cooks rice – cooks all kinds of rice and grains perfectly
- stainless steel cooking pot and steaming rack – much safer than usual non-stick Teflon coating, plus dishwasher safe
- safety mechanisms – lid will not open when pressure is still high
I’ve been using the Instant Pot several times a week since purchasing it about a month ago. I’ve cooked many dishes including:
- steamed vegetables
- steel cut oats
- white and brown rice
- pork chops
- chicken and mushroom sticky rice
- braised garlic chicken
I actually “curb alerted” my clunky analog slow cooker last week. I can’t wait to try more recipes in the Instant Pot, like jambalaya, or stew. There’s an intriguing recipe for dim-sum style taro cakes in the accompanying recipe book. I think I’ve found my kitchen BFF.
Check it out on Amazon here. If you decide to get one, let me know what you think!