“My Instant Pot lets me get dinner on the table in 30 minutes,” my Girl Scout co-leader told me every Brownie meeting. “I don’t even defrost the chicken breasts.”
“The Instant Pot’s so perfect for making yogurt, that I own two,” raved an author I know.
“Never buy canned beans again!” wrote a Facebook friend.
For those of you who haven’t received the hard sell on Instant Pot cooking, let me fill you in. The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker that can slow cook, saute, sear, steam and make rice. Unlike traditional pressure cookers that require a stovetop, the Instant Pot sits on your kitchen counter and plugs into the wall. It has modern safety features that are supposed to make it safer than pressure cookers from previous eras.
Still, safety was my primary concern and why I resisted buying an Instant Pot for so long. I can’t pinpoint where all the scary pressure-cooking stories bubbling around my mind come from, because I’ve heard so many baby boomers tell me horror stories. Third degree burns, canning accidents, exploding chili — a quick pot roast never seemed worth the risk.
Then Brian from www.realhousewifesnohomishcounty.com bought one and started sharing pictures on his Facebook page. I was intrigued enough that, when I saw a coupon for a sweet deal on the Instant Pot at Target, I decided to pick one up.
It took me two days to read the instruction book, and not because I’m stupid. The Instant Pot has a lot of rules, and my personal favorite was from page three of the user manual: “This appliance should not be used by or near children or by individuals with disabilities or limited knowledge in using pressure cookers.” I’ll be honest, that rule scared the crap out of me. I read the user manual cover to cover three more times.
The first thing I made in my Instant Pot was broth from the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. The rattling sound the pot made when it came to pressure was nerve-wracking enough that I texted an Instant-Pot-loving friend to check that this was normal, and she assured me that it was. The bone broth came out fine, but not noticeably better than if I had made it on the stove or in a slow cooker.
My next experiment was with a recipe for kalua pig that involved a pork shoulder roast, garlic cloves, bacon and salt. The Instant Pot is a step up from a standard slow cooker because you can brown the meat in the same pot that you roast in, which saves a dish to wash. But again, the pork probably would have been just as juicy if I had cooked it in my dutch oven.
So what’s my verdict? If I was a new bride registering for wedding gifts, the Instant Pot would definitely be on my list. Since I’m already married to my tried and true cooking methods, it might take me a while longer to embrace the next big thing.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal and on Twitter @jennbardsley
or on Facebook as The YA Gal.