Just like many of you, I got the Instant Pot for Christmas. I had visions of grandeur dancing in my head about how dinner prep would be changed forever. I gave it some time and I can now say, after 5 months of use…the Instant Pot did NOT change my life.
I was “in the market” for a new kitchen device because my Crockpot fell to its untimely death when I dropped it in the kitchen sink, just before the holidays. (Tear) I asked Facebook-land for their recommendations on a new slow cooker and I got the barrage of Instant Pot lovers professing their undying love for their IP. My first thought? I need this thing! (Oh hey, FOMO) No perfect time like the holidays to justify a pricey purchase. I hinted at the magical device and my husband delivered. Score!
Receiving the device and getting started was a little overwhelming. I joined the IP Community on Facebook, read amazing tutorials and hit up Pinterest. Let’s go learning curve, I got this. I’d consider myself an above average cook. I’m not executing Coq Au Vin with classic French technique but I make a really delicious braised chicken, pretending to be fancy. Frustrations and fails were expected. But much to my dismay, it did not live up to the hype. I don’t plan on tossing it out in the trash but I do have to bust some common misconceptions. Perhaps my expectations were too high.
Misconception #1: It cooks dinner in 7 minutes!
How can I put this nicely? Don’t get your hopes up on super low cook times. Recipes SAY 7 minutes of cook time but add almost 10 minutes for “heating up”, next the seven minutes of cook time and lastly another 10 plus minutes to cool down before opening the device. My device has gone as long as 24 minutes post cooking and I still had to quick release in order to the seal to break. Wait until the day you get all the way to “done”, 37 minutes later (when the recipe said seven) and you find everything inside UNDERCOOKED. You will just about lose your mind.
Misconception #2: Throw out your rice cooker, it makes perfect rice, every time!
I have made rice in this machine, six times…six different recipes. Finally, perfect rice was achieved the last time. Even the recipe in the instruction manual wasn’t the one that produced the perfect rice. Also, I get a little twitchy when food or money are wasted.
Misconception #3: One Pot, easy clean-up
This just makes me laugh and other Instant Pot users, whether you love it or hate it, will agree with this one. There is nothing easy about cleaning this beast. With tons of pieces from the teeny silicone valve, to the sealing ring, the inner pot, the thing that catches the extra steam. Even when you have scrubbed down every inch, it always holds residual odor. Google “Instant Pot Smell” and one of the first articles is written by Bon Appetit, a renowned food publication! (Pinning this article for future reference)
Misconception #4: You can cook meat from frozen, or dry beans
Let me just paint you this picture, close your eyes and imagine boiled frozen chicken breast. Is it cooked after 30-whatever minutes? Technically, yes but unless it’s smothered in a sauce or taco seasoning, you’re left with bland, pale meat which doesn’t exactly excite the palate. Let’s face it, you eat with your eyes just as much as your mouth. Don’t even get me started on the beans. It ended up taking 3 hours of pressure cook, 4 recipes and I lost count of cups of broth before my black bean mush was at least not hard as stone dry black beans.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had some successes. The slow cooker setting has worked just as I’d hoped. It’s definitely my go-to device for some surprising things such as boiling sweet potatoes! It takes only about 12 minutes and I can quick release and they are nice and soft for mashing. I love it for steaming veggies. It’s great as a one-pot that I can saute veggies, brown meat and make stews, like in my dutch oven, but I can leave to pick up the kids from school without leaving my oven on.
As far as saving me hours and hours of cook time, meh. Perhaps it just doesn’t fit my cooking style. Once it’s turned on pressure cook, it’s locked down (I know sealed pressure is the whole concept of how pressure cooking works, duh) with no way of testing taste, seeing if time needs to be added. I prefer tasting and adjusting flavor as I go, seeing how my vegetables and protein look and adjusting heat as necessary. It just wasn’t a game changer for me.
Bring on the angry mob…or maybe you too weren’t impressed?!
What category do you fall in? LOVE IT or MEH!?