I am usually slow about jumping on bandwagons. When I was a little girl, I would wait for my little sister to do things first just to make sure I wouldn’t get hurt or in trouble if I did it next. (Thanks, Leanne!) I was also not the first one to sign up for facebook in college, nor the first one to think essential oils are cool, nor the first one to use the instant pot. But, here I am, an instant pot user, about a year or two after the real trend-setters have mastered the appliance. And, I kind of love it.
Just in case there are any people left out there who are a smidge later than I am in jumping on the instant pot bandwagon, I decided to write a brief INSTANT POT 101 treatise. I know that many people find the appliances to be very intimidating, especially because I was one of them. But, really, I have found mine to be very easy to use.
First, I will say this– the instant pot is not really something you need. You will be fine if you just use your slow-cooker or the top of the stove like you’ve always done. But, if you are crunched for time and need to cook something quickly for a crowd, it’s a pretty nifty tool to have. So far, I have used the instant pot to boil eggs multiple times, to make rice pudding, chicken and rice, lasagna, chili, a fantastic broccoli cheddar soup, and macaroni and cheese.
The biggest benefit that I can see to using the instant pot is that you can put you meals in the IP and walk away from it instead of staying in the kitchen and watching it. Once you have everything in there correctly, it can finish the job on its own (and keep it warm for you for hours.) Of course you can do that with your crockpot, but the instant pot is also FAST, especially in the meat department. Instead of having to slow-cook a roast for at least four hours, it can cook a piece of meat in under one hour- great if you forgot to put your roast in before you leave home for the day. You can even cook meats from the frozen state, which, admittedly, I have yet to try.
But, enough selling the instant pot. (I’m not getting anything for advertising this here- just trying to help fellow instant-pot lovers.)
The first step in using this device is to just OPEN THE BOX. It is a huge appliance (at least my super-size one is) and has a lot of buttons, so I think this is the most difficult step for newbies. It’s just so scary looking.
But, once you have it open, you’re halfway there. The next thing you’ll want to do is to find a place to store your instapot, preferably somewhere that is easily accessible since you will be using it A LOT. You also need to find a place where it will not damage any cabinetry as it releases steam. I placed mine on the corner countertop right next to my stove. That way, I can move it to the stove-top when I am using it.
The next thing you’ll want to do is to peruse recipes for your instapot. The recipe really does matter. Check out the reviews of the recipe as well, because the amount of liquid compared to the amount of meat/ rice/ vegetable you are cooking will either cause your dish to turn out well or to burn (in which case, your instant pot will shut down and flash with a “burn” notice. (Ask me how I know.) Fortunately, there are a ton of them online.
Once you’ve picked your recipe, you will need to assemble your ingredients and put on the lid of your pot by lining up the lid and making sure it is in the “locked” position. At this point, you will turn the steam release to “seal.” This position will allow your instant pot to build up pressure, which is what allows it to cook your food uber-fast. Now, there is also a “float valve” that sits on the top of your lid. It is just a tiny red piece of metal that is going to indicate whether pressure is build up in your pot. If the instapot contains pressure, the float valve will rise up so that it sticks up from the lid of the pot. If there is no pressure, it will lie nearly level with the lid of the pot. Easy peasy.
If a recipe needs any ingredients to be sautéed before cooking, here again, the instant pot is a time-saver. You can saute right in the instant pot itself using the–surprise– “saute” function. You merely add your ingredients directly to the bottom of the instant pot and saute without the lid (or at least, without locking the lid.) You will then need to “deglaze” the bottom of the pot by pouring in some liquid and scraping the bottom of the pot so that there are no pieces of food stuck to the bottom before you begin pressure cooking. You should also let the pot cool down after sautéing. The nice part to sautéing in the IP is that you save yourself an extra dish to wash, as the next part of your meal can go directly in the IP after deglazing.
For most recipes that I have used thus far, the simplest setting that gives you the most control over your recipe is the “manual” or “pressure cook” setting. When you have your ingredients assembled, your lid is on, and your steam release is sealed, you merely push your “pressure cook” button and choose the amount of time you want it to cook by using the arrows to adjust time. You also choose your pressure level, which for many recipes is “high.” Most recipes don’t take very long at all. Boiled eggs, for example, take 5 minutes. A chicken recipe may take 20 minutes. Bear in mind that you also have to wait for your instant pot to build up pressure, which may take about 15 minutes, as well.
After your instapot is done cooking, (it will beep and automatically go to its “warming” function,) you will either let the steam release naturally or you will change your steam release to the “venting” position. At first, this part of the process was scary for me, as the steam shoots out of the top quite quickly and noisily, but you won’t get burned as long as you don’t leave your hand directly above the steam. Once the pressure is done releasing and the float valve goes back to its “normal” position, you can remove the lid, and dinner is served!
I hope you enjoy your IP tutorial! Any questions? Feel free to comment!