If you want to know just how fragile and precarious our lives are as mothers, as leaders of the meals, and all that’s involved to get a meal on the table (counter) that is perfectly timed, warm and good enough to stand up to Chipotle, Noodles & Company and the latest instant meal craze that has captured our children’s attention, just think about the quote I saw on an Instant Pot forum by a woman after my own heart: “I would take a bullet for my Instant Pot.” If that’s not a testament to harried mom’s reaching out for help, I don’t know what is.
I’m not new to pressure cooking. During the 1998-20011 era, I had the old-fashioned stovetop model, and I used it quite a bit — and studied all of the intricacies of pressure cooking — including adding garlic in the last few minutes of cooking because it gets bitter. I even canned jammed once. When the gasket broke, it was no longer possible to pop into the local hardware store to purchase one — (that’s what my mom went whenever hers broke.) And I began to worry about the lid — and all of its buttons. Better to retire her now, before we have an accident.
And Yes. I have missed it. But, I assumed that I had moved beyond that one-pot meal, opting for fresher tasting food. (But vegetables are so much healthier when steamed! But who needs one more device?) So the background conversation went through my head.
And, then I scanned Instant Pot recipes on Pinterest — and didn’t really see a single thing that looked appetizing. Somehow, I felt enough nostalgia for my old one, that I broke down and purchased the latest Instant Pot — just BEFORE Christmas.
Let me just say — after having a stove top version — this is definitely a cut above anything I’ve ever used before. But, it’s got some valuable uses — beyond those soup stew-like meals.
Here’s what I love about my Instant Pot
- The Ultimate Pomodoro Technique. Get more done. The Instant Pot is hands-off cooking. So, once you close the lid, you can’t see, stir or do a thing. So while it’s counting down its ten minutes (programmable, unlike my stove top version) I can challenge myself to fold a load of laundry, or sweep the kitchen — and USE THAT TIME WISELY — instead of heading back to Pinterest for another recipe!
- Less Clean-Up. Cooking a pasta meal, such as mac and cheese and spaghetti — something I never did in my pressure cooker before — has elevated the machine to a whole new level. In about the time it took the water to boil, my pasta dish is now done. And — truly a one-pot meal — as I no longer need a strainer.
- Creates a Happy, Magical Story. Mac and cheese is creamy — and spaghetti tastes richer. The most amazing thing happens when you left the lid on a pot of pasta — instantly, you see standing water on top, and your heart just drops. Then you start to stir, and you see that the pasta isn’t even done — even though you’ve cooked it for the precise four minutes (half of what the box says). And you start to stir, and before your spoon has made one complete circle around the pot — it’s all better. Instantly. The water has absorbed, and the pasta gets soft. It’s amazing. It makes you just want to go back in there and make another batch because it was so fun watching it all come together.
- Let’s Get Real: 5 Minute Hobo Packets. If any gadget gets more vegetables into my kid’s mouths — it’s a winner. A favorite meal around here is hobo packets — with just potatoes, butter, and carrots — wrapped in that great invention that is so terrible for us, aluminum foil. Forty-five minutes tops in the oven. They take FOREVER!!! So, I hardly make them.The Instant Pot way? I simply sauteed the potatoes and carrots in a little butter in the instant pot’s saute feature, then added about a 1/2 cup of water — and in FIVE minutes — done. If they want — I can always serve them in foil.
- Vegetables Seem to Dance. But the biggest advantage is the food seems “more vibrant?” Everything tastes lighter — as if it just breezed through a fire– just enough to stimulate the locked-in taste, hidden deep inside — but came out without getting singed? I’m grasping here… but everything seems fresher, alive on the plate — elevated. Soybeans, green beans.
- Concentrated Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea. I literally need to step away from the Instant Pot — after the meal is done, so that I don’t stand there and look for something else to try. Which led me to iced tea. Yeah — that’s a thing — brewing tea has the same magical impact. and Instant Pot people have elevated it to a whole new level. So concentrated tea saves you lots of $. And I thought — is tea really that expensive, that we need to ration it? But, then I wisely remembered — yes it is! Every time I indulge in a cup of Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea, I mentally worry about how many tea bags are left — what if I run out, or worse what if the store stops carrying this tea — there’s always Amazon — but what is Harney & Sons goes out of business!!! So, yes. One batch of Harney & Sons steeped in milk on high pressure for 4 minutes, quick release. (In the Pot in Pot method to keep the milk from foaming up the pressure valve.)
- Cleans Itself. I’ve made a few mistakes — like pressure cooking the mac and cheese, AFTER I added the cheese, WHAT A MESS!!! Burnt cheese on the bottom and sides of my new stainless steel vessel of my Instant Pot. I needed a jackhammer to get it off. Then, I added a cup of water, and just pressure cooked the cheese off in two minutes flat. I even did the horrible “NOVICE” mistake of laying the Instant Pot lid directly on a hot burner!!! Yes… apparently, it’s a common mistake. So, the lid has melted plastic — but nothing on the inside is damaged, and still works perfectly. But it breaks my heart whenever I see it.
- Fast Lasagna. Let’s face it. Fast anything. But, instead of waiting for the oven to warm up, and cook my lasagna all the way through — I just added the layered lasagna to the instant pot in an ovenproof dish, that fit inside of the stainless steel pot — added water, then voila. Lasagna in 20 minutes.
So, how do we compete with Chipotle? Simple: This recipe saved me— and with rice you can “steam” with your Instant Pot Rice cooker settings — you have the makings for a Chipotle-home style meal your teen, and his friends will love.