For many cooks who are well-established in their cooking routines and averse to any appliance with more than a few buttons, it might take a while to warm up to the idea that you can cook everything from cakes to hard-cooked eggs in a single electric countertop appliance.
In June, I finally got over my multicooker misgivings. I’d been an Instant Pot skeptic for years, in part because I genuinely had questions about how it functioned and whether it would “work” for how my family eats. But I knew I needed to throw myself into the Instant Pot world to understand why it’s so popular and see if it’s an appliance that I’d want in my own kitchen.
But first, I wanted to share some really great advice I got just before I unboxed the appliance. After I posted a series of questions on my blog, a reader (and Instant Pot fan) Thomas Embleton took the time to answer via email and his answers helped me get over my initial fears that I would accidentally blow up the appliance or that it was simply overhyped.
With a month of multicooker cooking under my belt, I can concur with his answers and have added thoughts, where relevant.
I feel overwhelmed by just how new this cooking device feels. Is that normal?
Yes, I’ve had mine for years, upgraded as better models came out and still am overwhelmed by what it can do. If you buy into the accessories, you can really expand your cooking. I would suggest a trivet that also allows you to steam eggs (soft to hard, depending on time), a tempered glass lid for sautéing, a second inner pot for mixed meals (also called pot-in-pot cooking) and a veggie steamer basket with handles.
Will the steam from the pressure cooker heat up my kitchen, thus defeating the purpose of not turning on my oven?
I just heated up my IP to make a brown rice/quinoa recipe and could not feel any heat coming from the top as it came up to pressure. Once at pressure, the lid is sealed and no water (or heat) will escape. A benefit of an IP is you can reduce the amount of water in most recipes because it does not boil/steam away. (AB: I also learned that as long as you have at least a cup of water in the Instant Pot, you’ll have enough liquid to steam or cook something, and that the multicookers have several levels of built-in safety mechanisms to prevent any explosions or overheating inside the pot.)
Which of the approximately 12,000 Facebook groups should I join?
I don’t use Facebook, so I prefer to use the following sites: hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooker-recipes and seriouseats.com/recipes/topics/method/pressure-cooker
How many dishes am I going to have to make until I feel someone proficient on it?
I have some favorite dishes I have been modifying 10 to 15 times as I get it closer to my perfection. I would suggest hosting potluck dinners to try them out on others. I worked out a recipe to make bean soup for my mother (for a good source of nutrients), and it took about 3 to 4 tries to get it right.
Are my kids going to eat it?
I make my brown rice/quinoa dish, especially for our 3-year old granddaughter. I wrote 90 percent of this email while this week’s batch was cooking, and it finished in 14 minutes. It is now resting for 15 minutes, then it will be ready.
What happens if I try to cook without an official Instant Pot recipe?
I haven’t used the branded cookbook since Day 2, relying on other recipes and trial/error.
What if all these Instant Pot cookbook recipes don’t really look that appealing?
Don’t cook veggies in the IP unless making soup or stews. (AB: I have found corn, broccoli, potatoes and green beans an exception to this.)
Am I really going to cook more beans if I can cook them faster?
I make a bean dish weekly.
What am I going to do with all of those beans?
Eat them and live longer.