For 2 weeks now I’ve been cooking with my Instant Pot every day in some capacity, just so that YOU, dear reader, will know if this is a worthwhile investment for your kitchen.
You can find a review of the first 3 dishes I prepared and my opinions in this blog post. I’ve covered my Yogurt making experience here. Once again, please note that I am not affiliated with any products herein. I am simply a cook who has this appliance, which I bought on a lightening deal for about half the price because I’m curious and because I like a challenge.
Let’s start with some things I like about the pot:
- stainless steel liner for easy clean up
- you can set it and forget it on those busy days
- it is far less intimidating to operate than you might think. Not nearly as intimidating as my stove-top, dial gauge pressure cooker/canner.
- push-button programming
Now, on to the recipes:
Chicken & Rice – Slow Cooker:
OK, YUCK. I’m not even sure how to write this review. The recipe came from the cookbook The Hubs bought me and it’s CRAP, so there was that. The book is worthless. Please don’t buy it. It is a waste of money. The recipes are not well written (2 chicken breasts (no mention of size) and seasonings and spices are very basic. Cooking times and instructions don’t always seem to be right either.
This was a “2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts” recipe so I selected 2 large ones because we are feeding 4. (no notes on how many a recipe feeds either.) I followed directions and put it all in and set it on crock pot mode. Easy Peasy.
Kids, after 7 hours the onions and diced carrots were as crunchy as ever. The chicken was cooked but the rice was still a little crispy too. YUCK. We were all snacking after dinner that night. I didn’t get a picture of it, but it looked remarkably like the Chicken Parmesan Mozzarella in my last post or the Jambalaya pictured below.
Final Verdict: Throwing away the book. Don’t know if it was a combination of the recipe and the slow-cooker function not being hot enough to cook the food properly or not, but I’m done with the book and the function.
Jambalaya – Pressure Cooker Feature(The Girl’s Choice)
This recipe comes from the same cookbook as the recipe above. Given the luck I’d veen having with this book I decided to combine this recipe with one I had in an old Better Homes and Gardens recipe book. I also did not use 2 lbs of shrimp and half pound of sausage and a half pound of sausage. These quantities also seemed a bit out of balance. I sauteed the veggies and meats, then combined all, including the spices into the pot, set it for 8 minutes and walked away.
Now, a word about pressure cooking, even that of the electronic sort. It is easy for a friend to sing the praises of how fast pressure cooking can be, but many times they fail to mention the amount of time that it takes for the pot to build the pressure before the actual cooking time begins! Eggs in 3 minutes? Yes, but it can take 6 to 10 minutes for the pressure to build, so the total time your dish spends in the pot can be far longer than the time it actually takes to cook it.
Case in point, by the time I sauteed everything, locked down the lid and began the pressure building for the Jambalaya, plus the 8 minutes it cooked 40 minutes had passed. It’s not an 8 minute gig, but it’s still a little faster than simmering a pot on the top of the stove and the rice came out perfectly.
Final verdict: The rice was well cooked, flavors were nice, but I feel that was only because I “fixed” the recipe.
Poached Eggs – pressure cooker
I love a poached egg, but the mess and trying to stir the water while gently dropping the egg so that the white wraps around the yolk and then skimming the foam off of the water so that it doesn’t overflow…not my idea of a fun morning activity. So when I found this recipe, with 5 ways to make eggs in the Instant Pot and saw that one of them was poached, I had to try.
I was so glad I did. The whole process takes about 12-15 neat and tidy minutes and worth every one. Actually, these eggs were maybe a bit firm for my liking and I might just take a minute off of the processing time. The recipe couldn’t have been more simple. One cup of water in the bottom of the pot, heat proof dishes and eggs. The one cup of water is standard by the way. You must have at least one cup of water or fluid in your Instant Pot when operating it on the pressure cooker mode.
Final Verdict: My new favorite way to make eggs. Put them in, start the machine up and make some coffee while I wait.
Hard Boiled Eggs – Pressure Cooker
Now the “hard-boiled-eggs-in-minutes” feature is one that nearly everyone touted when trying to convince me I “needed” one of these Instant Pot gadgets, and I have to admit that I was intrigued. I love hard-boiled eggs, but I tend to go off and forget when I put a pot of them on to boil until the water has nearly boiled away. Not good.
I followed the instructions that came with the device and it couldn’t have been easier. 1 Cup of water and eggs. I did a dozen and they came out just fine. I was curious about the egg that turned a little brown though. I am not sure what turned the shell exactly, but aside from a small blemish in the white of the egg, it came out no different than the rest.
You will note the lack of the greenish-gray sulfur ring around the yolks in this picture. They really did come out perfect, but after storing for a day the ring did appear. I’m told that this is a reaction between the iron in the yolk and the sulfur in the white. It is completely harmless and is usually caused by over cooking or not getting them cooled quickly enough. Storage and the age of the egg will also figure into this phenomenon. At least these came out perfectly.
Final Verdict: This is a very useful method for hard-boiling eggs. I have a recipe I wish to try this summer for Potato Salad that cooks the well scrubbed eggs right along with the potatoes. Interested to see how that works.
French Dip Sandwiches – Pressure Cooker
Our family loves a good French Dip and this one from No. 2 Pencil was no exception. While I could have made it easily in my cast iron Dutch Oven, this was about the experiment and I was curious to see if the process would be any shorter.
I started with a bone in chuck roast. The bone was a long one and had to be removed in order for it to fit into the insert. This was good though, as I put it in the freezer to save for making bone broth at a later date! At 2 1/2 hours it was not necessarily faster, but the roast came out SO tender it didn’t really matter!
And when I say it was tender, I mean tender. I shredded it with a spoon! I have no pictures of the sandwiches because the family snapped them up too quickly! They were delicious!
Final Verdict: Worth it.
Mongolian Beef – Pressure Cooker
Another Pinterest find, this one has me on the fence. By the time I sauteed all of the ingredients, including the thinly sliced beef, the recipe was nearly done. I mean, it would have been just as easy to finish up on the stove and would most certainly have taken less time. The sauce would have been thicker and stickier too. (sorry, no scallions, the refrigerator froze them.) BUT the pressure treatment of the meat made it nice and tender and the flavors pleased taste buds all around.
Final Verdict: Better off fixing it quick on the stove in my opinion. More flavor from searing the meat on the cast iron skillet or wok.
Chicken Yum Yum – Pressure Cooker
This may have come off as our all time favorite recipe of the weeks’ experiments. It was suggested by a friend who also tried to convince me of my Instant Pot needs. This recipe comes from Predominantly Paleo and is a very tasty way to prepare inexpensive chicken thighs. I found myself having difficulty getting my hands on boneless skinless thighs. Everyone must have been making Chicken Yum Yum and who could blame them! I deboned them myself and saved the bones for that Bone Broth I spoke of earlier.
We are do not cook Paleo regularly in our house so ingredients like ghee (clarified butter) are not in our pantry so I substituted Extra Virgin Olive Oil in it’s place. I did, happen to have Tamari, a thicker, less-salty fermented soy-like sauce. It is often lower in wheat, if it has any at all. In a situation like this, if soy sauce is what you have, I think you could easily substitute it. Maybe just add less salt, if any at all when using regular soy sauce.
The chicken was so tender and flavorful. We served ours on rice, but the roasted cauliflower shown in the recipe sounds equally delightful. As we sat around enjoying it, we could see it served on bread, over potatoes, noodles and even straight from the pot. Chicken YUM YUM indeed!
Final Verdict: Really? Need I say more?
Ham & Beans – Pressure Cooker with Pressure Pre-Soak
While out with a friend this weekend we got to talking about my Instant Pot adventures. (Seems everyone is interested.) She was talking about making Ham and Beans over the holidays and how she made them from dry beans that she soaked overnight but they still came out “crunchy”.
Well, I had heard that you could make beans in the Instant Pot without soaking the beans overnight! When I told my friend, she handed me her extra bag of beans and challenged me! I hunted down this recipe on Dad Cooks Dinner, which describes the “quick pressure soak” and planned to make it Monday. I have to say, given the day I had Monday, I would never have been able to make a pot of ham and beans any other way!
They were perfect! Even the picture turned out perfect! The beans were nice and tender. The only problem I had with the recipe was that it took twice as long (2 hours) to make as the recipe indicated (this included the quick pressure soaking of the beans). This recipe calls for the pressure to be released naturally, meaning, you don’t open the valve manually, and this takes time. Seemed mine took more time to release than the recipe stated. STILL, I think this might have been the best process for making ham and beans and was certainly less invested time overall as I didn’t have to remember to soak beans ALL night and the day of cooking.
Final Verdict: THIS may be the recipe that makes me fall in love with my Instant Pot.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Pressure Cooker
They are actually called Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes, from Adventures of a Nurse, but we made them without the Rosemary. We’re not real fans. As I mentioned in the first post about the Instant Pot, I felt this gizzy could make a pretty good mashed potato. The potatoes cook down so tender and they are fluffy too! I was right and they are so easy to assemble. We had these with our chicken and noodles last night. Unfortunately I did not get a good picture, but the family gave plenty of praise. The Boy felt they were creamier. The Man liked the garlicky flavor.
Now let’s face it, potatoes are not that difficult to boil and mash, but cooking them with the aromatics and a little bit of butter infuses the potatoes with flavor and the pressure cooks the potatoes to tender there is hardly a way you could mash them with lumps! They were also care-free. While noodles cooked, the potatoes did too! It all came out delicious.
Final Verdict: Good Recipe.
Overall I like the gizmo. From what I’ve prepared so far, I am completely hung-up on the Pressure Cooker function. I do like having that option, but with better safety features (regulated temperatures, easy release, etc.). I feel like I can operate this piece myself.
I’ve even picked up some little tips from other blogs. My favorite and most used is to put a tea towel over the release valve before letting the pressure off manually. This dissipates the strong column of steam released, keeping it from hitting you or your cabinets at full force.
As for the slow-cooker feature…not impressed, but then I’m just not that impressed by slow cookers in general.
The Rice Cooking function is nice and will be used again and the Yogurt will be come a regular staple in our home now. The other features (Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili/Poultry, Steam) will take more investigating.
There are still things I want to try:
- Bone Broth
- Short Ribs
- Homemade Rice-A-Roni (The Man loves the boxed stuff, but I don’t. Too much sodium)
- Potato Salad, eggs and all
As I mentioned, I got my Instant pot for about half price on an Amazon Flash sale on Black Friday. I am not so convinced that this is such a game changer that I would pay full price, but I do think I may have gotten my $60 out of it. I’m sure it will get used again and again. I look forward to more things to try. Leave your suggestions (or challenges) in the comments!
For more on my Instant Pot adventures, follow my Pinterest board Under Pressure (cute, huh?) Any of the recipes with a red check mark in the corner are ones I’ve tried and reviewed!