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The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker: Dope

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It had been on my mind for a while.

Stephan Guyenet first clued me into the idea of an electric pressure cooker appliance—it’s like 4 years now. I’ve had a stovetop one forever that I haven’t used in forever. My notion of a pressure cooker is the image of grandma pressure cooking something. Huge pot, and a sort of “puck” of a precise weight that sat atop a vertical tube on the lid. Heavy enough to modulate pressure at the upper end, light enough so the pot wouldn’t become an improvised explosive device.

I used my Fagor stovetop pressure cooker two times in the 6-8 years since I bought it. I’ve used my Instant Pot four times in five days since Amazon Prime got it to me.

It’s tough to describe how much this thing “completes me” in terms of cooking.

I’m still kinda learning the new sort of cook a meal management that this new employee affords me. I’m in the kitchen a lot and usually, a 1-man show. I like it that way because there are two aspects of cooking I love: one is the creation, the imagination. Fucking with a recipe, fucking with six of them and doing a synthesis, or coming up with my own.

But the second personal delight is very sound management of the process, such that all elements come together when they’re supposed to. This separates the boys from the men. The Instant Pot is definitely an asset in that regard, but I’m still working it out. I’m not the sort to do One-Pot dishes very often, so I have to integrate timing with what I’m doing on the stovetop and the oven, and it’s fucking fun.

By the way, tons of Instant Pot application recipes are a Google away. Tons and tons. You know, that modest and private Stephan couldn’t help himself, and after using it 400 times in two years from his first post, he did an update. If you click in now to Amazon, you’ll see about 14,600 reviews. 4.6 stars out of five—astounding. Since I began posting about it on Facebook with food pics, there is only enthusiasm from regular users, and curiosity from those who’ve not yet taken the plunge.

So, would you like me to run through my first three dishes? Of course you would. Would you like pics? Gotcha covered.

The first evening was me alone, and my prime curiosity was: can it do a slow-cooker pot roast in an hour that’s a pleasure more than a pain in the ass to get it right?

It can.

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I used this recipe. There are three notable things about it. First, it’s a single pot recipe. One pot. The second thing is the searing. It has a sauté function, and so if you have time, you get excellent sear. The third is that you don’t cook the classic potatoes and carrots with it. You remove just the roast, submerge the potatoes, lay the carrots on top. FOUR minutes! 4 minutes. Combine all and serve.

Next, I took what I learned from that first experience and did a dish of my own, no recipe. A pork shoulder with onion and tarragon sauce.

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Who would imagine that you can get a pork roast to sweet and pull-apart tender in 45 minutes? I did the mash on stovetop. But—and I did this with the roast, above, as well—strain your dish and run the broth through a fat separator. Put the 3-400 saved, empty calories toward your smoked oyster and sardine budget. The fat adds zero to the flavor and often fucks up texture.

Feel free, then, to thicken the sauce. A tsp and shot cold water slurry of potato or corn starch does the trick, and you use the sauté function in the same pot to do it (I had my oven on keep warm, so the bowl of solids were there—see what I told you about the joy of management?).

…Last night I decided to go off the rails and did Indian Butter Chicken. It’s my favorite Indian chicken dish. In terms of meat curries, it’s the lamb. For seafood, spicy vindaloo.

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Don’t forget to rinse and then soak your basmati rice in normal temp water for 20-30 minutes, before doing the cooking process. Indian restaurant secret. I have it on good authority.

I should have made naan, but it’s about a 2-hour process, which defeats the purpose. So, I got some organic pita at the market and brushed them with a combo of melted butter, salt, parsley, and a touch of garlic powder. Then, on a hot cookie sheet in a hot oven, turned halfway.

We did oat groats this morning. 15 minutes. Nutty and chewy.

…So, needless to say, I love it. This new thing.

 

 

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

33 Comments

  1. Mycroft Jones on January 16, 2017 at 18:13

    Been using it for almost 2 years now, since reading about it on Critical Mas site (via Guyenet). Wouldn’t want to live without it. Use it multiple times a day. Makes the best smelling rice I’ve ever had.

  2. Sam on January 16, 2017 at 20:18

    do you see any downsides when cooking, especially meat at temps above boiling, 212F ? i thought, you’re not suppose to heat/cook meat/proteins above 212.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 16, 2017 at 21:09

      No. Primitive man could only grill on an open fire.

      Consult Google for the temps.

      I have a gas grill that does 800. I can cook a half pound burger patty in three minutes.

      No, I am no fucking pussy, worried about everything I find to worry about.



    • Sam on January 21, 2017 at 22:13

      And so, I did, Google does an excellent job ….

      Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk (Fact Sheet)

      “…numerous epidemiologic studies have used detailed questionnaires to examine participants’ meat consumption and meat cooking methods to estimate HCA and PAH exposures. Researchers found that high consumption of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats was associated with increased risks of colorectal (14), pancreatic (15, 16), and prostate (17, 18) cancer.”



    • Richard Nikoley on January 22, 2017 at 14:00

      So what are YOU going to do, given you could completely fuck up risk calculation and die in a car accident tomorrow?



  3. Georgene on January 17, 2017 at 06:32

    What is this thing called “recipe” you speak of?

    Oh! That thing I recognize as “a suggestion for this food that you may or may not want to follow.”

    Cooking is fun. Instant Pot is even more fun, because once you have everything thrown in, you can turn it on and walk away.

    • John on January 18, 2017 at 15:19

      I think Harrah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen said it best- “This whole cooking thing is a matter of opinion. There is no right, and there is no wrong. There is only food, and inedible.”

      It’s a pretty solid approach- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKf0GirR0-A



  4. Pat on January 17, 2017 at 16:29

    I have an instant pot on order and was interested in reading this article but honestly could not get past all the f words. Is your vocabulary so limited you have to resort to user this kind of language? Thanks but no thanks. I think I can find plenty of clean articles written by smarter people to read.

  5. Review Champ on January 17, 2017 at 18:40

    You were seemingly such a good writer until the vulgarities. Please dial it back….It”s just puerile.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 18, 2017 at 06:52

      Pat and Review Champ.

      The blog you are on has been a going concern since 2003, 13 years, has over 4,500 posts and over 100,000 comments, gets about 100-200k sets of eyeballs per month. I blog about stuff across the spectrum, in what I think is a rather unique and eclectic style, which includes adult language explicitly placed where it “doesn’t belong.”

      It’s my thing. This is an adult space, not a safe space.

      I don’t owe either of you anything, incidentally, so I find your sense of entitlement rather childish.



    • Jim on January 24, 2017 at 17:38

      Richard:
      Ha! Funny to see people complaining about profanity on this site. Never thought about how Google must constantly send new folks to the blog, especially when you blog on a new topic.



  6. Anand Srivastava on January 17, 2017 at 23:43

    We have 6 of those stove top IEDs :-).

    We use them in almost every single meal, sometimes two in one meal.

    Indian food depends on them a lot. You cannot cook the pulses without them in any reasonable time.

    Chickpeas and Kidney beans are much easier to cook in them.

    We have a 4 burner and cook with LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). One of them is very slow. I use a big 5litre one with meat, and let it cook for nearly an hour.

    • ramon on January 19, 2017 at 04:56

      IEDs lol. naughty but funny.

      I love indian food, I just might get one and try it out.



  7. Sheena on January 18, 2017 at 03:43

    I’ve had an Instant Pot for a couple of years, favourite dish to cook in it is Nom Nom Paleo’s Kalua Pig. I’ve only tried the slow cooked version, and the meat gets used for a ton of dishes. In fact, I’ll be thawing a lump for dinner tonight, crisping it in a frying pan and serving it on top of a huge veggie stir fry.
    I also make yogurt in mine, works a treat!
    I’m sure you’ll be posting a lot more foodie content this year ?

  8. John on January 18, 2017 at 15:11

    Yuuuuuuuuup, Instant Pot is pretty awesome. I got it on a Black Friday special, and have used it like, 20 times already, even with traveling for the Holidays.

    I’ve been making Bone Broth from Cow Feet. Super Gelatinous. Cooked for 90 min to 2 hours, depending on how many times I’ve used the same foot. I’ll then use that for stock if I’m making soup/stew, or instead of water if I’m cooking rice or pasta. I was always way to lazy to do a long crock pot batch.

    Interested in cooking cow foot as a main dish, like this- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQDIX9vDfW8

    • John on January 18, 2017 at 15:28

      Just noticed the link to the Fat Separator. I’ll be getting that soon. Totally agree on the flavor and calorie points, and to boot, I’ve noticed if eat some of the fatty stock right out of the pot, I get a bit queasy.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 18, 2017 at 16:32

      The fat separator improves the overall quality of your dish.



    • Matt on January 24, 2017 at 07:33

      Hey John,

      How many times can you use the same foot before it becomes useless? Also, do you just refrigerate in between uses?



    • Mycroft Jones on January 25, 2017 at 03:58

      Possibly the fat separator will save you from gout as well.



    • John on January 25, 2017 at 18:03

      Well, I’ve purchased two cow feet (they are about 3 pounds or so), and cooked each one twice, and it produced very solid jello all four times so far. The first one was done after two cooks, but the second looks like it could be used a third time. If you cooked it less time (say, 45 minutes or so), you might be able to get 4-6 batches out of it. Maybe more. You could probably cook the bones another time if you want a thinner broth or stock, but feet aren’t very expensive, and I’m mostly interested in the gelatin.

      I keep them in the freezer in between uses. Fridge might be okay, but I’ve had bones/feet go bad quick in the fridge.



    • John on January 25, 2017 at 18:09

      One other note- If you save the fat, it’s basically tallow, should you want to cook with it. If I cooked the foot without onions, garlic or whatever, I find the fat quite usable, and I think it might keep. The fat didn’t seem to keep well if I had used onions or garlic.



    • Richard Nikoley on January 25, 2017 at 18:55

      You people are so geek fucking eclectic I love it.



  9. Alesia on January 18, 2017 at 17:08

    My father-in-law loves his Instant Pot, and he’s not much for cooking but he likes gadgets. It was originally for his wife, but he has adopted it, and likes messing with it to get perfectly tender meat. I’ll have to grab one soon.

    You’ve mentioned your Grandmothers in the last few food posts. I always find the back stories behind food intesting. It’s amazing how smells, and tastes can transport us to a different place, or time, or remind us of someone. Strangely, I always seem to remember the favourite foods of people that I know, even co-workers. Food preferences can tell you a lot about someone.

  10. Jacky on January 19, 2017 at 02:14

    Hi Richard,

    Just dropping by to say Hi.

    Seems like the Instant Pot has been treating you well 🙂

    thank you for the mention!

  11. Paul on January 19, 2017 at 03:51

    Hi Richard,

    I don’t like your thoughts on politics and your support of trump.

    I don’t like your use of profanity.

    I don’t like your position on religion.

    I find you overly abrasive in your responses to people in the comment section.

    The fact that you heat food worries me and this device you are talking about hear could be cancer causing.

    A few people had a bad reaction to potato starch after you talked about it.

    I have realised after all this time that I deserve to feel safe.

    I don’t feel safe reading this blog.

    Just thought you would appreciate my feedback because we all have a lot to learn and I thought I could share how I feel so that you could benefit and grow.

    And in case it was not clear, Please make your blog conform to what I want so I can feel better inside.

    Thanks Paul

  12. Pat on January 19, 2017 at 18:07

    Speaking of childish, why is it so important for you to try to write adult. Adults I know do not write or speak with vulgar language. You sound like a child trying to shock adults. I worked in a high school for 20 years and sir, there is not much you can write that will shock me. Your writing is very unprofessional. If this is the kind of people you like to attract with your writing, then by all means, continue your vulgar dribble..

    • Richard Nikoley on January 19, 2017 at 20:04

      Just go fuck yourself, suck your own cock, whatever it is you like.

      I do not give a runny shit what you think.

      You are dismissed as a fucktard who can’t get a fuckimg clue.

      Have I provided clarity?



  13. Wilbur on January 20, 2017 at 19:24

    For years, I’ve used a stove-top tea kettle to boil water for coffee and tea. Then I got an electric one (Cuisinart) that at the push of a button brings water to the right temperatures for white, green, or black teas, French press coffee, etc. What an improvement in my life! I’ve at least doubled my tea consumption.

    I imagine the Instant Pot might be similar. Alas, I use stove-top pressure cookers. My wife might shoot me if I bring home more kitchen gear, but she does love the electric tea kettle.

    I don’t know exactly how the Instant Pot works. But I wanted to share a couple of ideas that exploit the higher temps of the pressure cooker to create flavors hard to get otherwise. The ideas come from Modernist Cuisine at Home, a great book.

    Here’s a carrot soup recipe

    It uses the elevated boiling temps of the pressure cooker and baking soda to caramelize the sugars. The carrot soup is amazing. The book has a similar recipe for butternut squash which I’ve served to others, and it is a favorite. You can use mushrooms, leeks, etc. I do not think you can get the same flavor otherwise.

    A second idea is making no-stir risottos. I tried to find a good link but failed. The book has them. You can use Arborio rice, but the fun is in using barley, wheat berries, farro, and other whole grains. Twenty minutes cooks the grains, and then a fast pressure release (does the Instant Pot do this?) causes the grains to break their starch molecules, resulting in a toothy, creamy risotto. The same thing on a stove would take over an hour of constant attention and stirring.

    There are lots of other ideas in the book. Like mentioned above, confits. Putting a Mason jars inside to confit garlic, duck, etc.

    For me, the sous vide (“fat-free”) mac’n’cheese was worth the entire price of the book. Talk about something that drives company wild.

  14. Louise S on January 20, 2017 at 16:54

    My crock pot renders wild goose/duck tasting like cardboard unless I BBQ it first, even with stock, herbs etc. The Jaminet’s suggest cooking in stainless so I have been considering the Instant Pot.

    Your pictures looks great, but how does it taste, really, as opposed to stove top cooking?

    • Richard Nikoley on January 20, 2017 at 17:15

      Crazy good, especially the first two. Every bit as good as slow cooker.

      The butter chicken was good, but next time I’m doubling all the seasonings except salt, may 150% there. Just a bit “bland” for robust Indian dishes.



  15. ilovebeans on January 24, 2017 at 07:57

    There are some great one pot Indian legume dishes you can do in a pressure cooker, too, like rajma and the various dals. Yum yums!

    Here’s a dal I make fairly often – http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/restaurant-style-dal-tadka/ – it only takes 15 minutes in a pressure cooker and is good even without the addition of the fatty tadka. There are some fantastic other recipes on that site, especially the rajma and the potato curry! (http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/potato-curry-recipe/ and .

  16. […] task was to test the limits of the Instant Pot (see here for more detail), which I now use several times per week and have yet to scratch the surface in terms of […]

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