Picture it … Christmas 2015, my husband is giddy about the gift he got me. He lifted a large wrapped box and put it on the sofa next to me. It was definitely too big and heavy to be jewelry (though I wouldn’t put it past him to wrap a large box with bricks and a pair of earrings, but he wouldn’t be giddy about that.)
So I unwrapped it and saw … an appliance?
It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I mean, I enjoy cooking and cookbooks. Okay, well, let’s get real. I enjoy the idea of cooking more than the reality. With three picky kids and a husband who drinks most of his meals in the form of Soylent, cooking is usually heating up hot dogs and noodles for the kids and something quick and easy for me. Like toast or cereal.
So I see this large box that says “Instant Pot” and George is looking at me expectantly like I know what the heck it is. I have no idea what it is. Since when does my husband, who honestly could care less about food, know about appliances? Well, apparently he read about it online somewhere and thought I’d like it.
It truly was a thoughtful gift – George knows I love to contemplate cooking, and he knows the reality of it stresses me out.
So I got online and found a thousand pins on Pinterest and checked out some pressure cooking cookbooks from the library. (The America’s Test Kitchen one is good.) I thought about my favorite recipes like Butternut Squash Crack and Beef and Barley Stew. And one of the boys’ favorite meals, plain white rice. (Yeah, adventurous eaters I have.) I knew all of them would be made even easier with the help of the Instant Pot.
So I’m not going to write the thousandth post about what recipes to use for the Instant Pot. You can find those everywhere. But let me just tell you why I love it.
– Rice is perfect every time. I could never get it right on the stove or in the microwave. It was always either undercooked or burnt or mushy.
– Speaking of rice, now I eat brown rice because it doesn’t take for-freaking-ever. (Brown basmati and jasmine rice from Trader Joe’s are my favorites.)
– Quinoa – I can make a week’s worth in the blink of an eye! Again, perfectly cooked. I love it in place of rice in saucy dishes like this Sesame Chicken I make a lot.
– Parcooking butternut squash for the aforementioned Crack that I make. (Parcooking means to partially cook something, which can really cut down the overall cooking time.)
– You can sear the meat for the beef and barley stew (or pot roast or whatever you’re making) right in the same pot that it’s cooked in.
– And you can saute the onions and garlic right in the pot too!
– Collard greens. Not too shabby.
– Steel cut oats – no longer need to be made overnight! (Tip: add pumpkin and its ubiquitous spices. And serve with a splash of maple syrup and walnuts.)
– Homemade apple cider – I had a ton of apples that weren’t quite up to my exacting standards, so with the help of some cinnamon sticks and other spices, made a batch of cider that I added booze to and brought to a holiday party. The kids loved the non-spiked version, too.
– Similarly, it would be great for mulled wine. Next year!
– Pot roast in 2 hours! (Trust me, don’t try to rush it any more than that.)
– People say yogurt, but we’re not a huge yogurt family. So I’ll take their word for it.
– Perfect hard boiled eggs! Yet another basic food I’m always screwing up. Foolproof in the Instant Pot. (And Alicia says the ease of peeling farm fresh eggs that have been steamed in her Instant Pot makes her weep with joy.)
– Throw some frozen chicken breasts in with a jar of salsa and in no time you have shreddable chicken for tacos and whatever. (Pro tip: shred them in your Kitchenaid mixer with the paddle attachment while they’re still warm. You’re welcome.)
Okay, that should get you started. Or at least convince you that the Instant Pot is worth every penny.