Sunday, April 7, 2019

To Instant Pot or Not, That Is the Question

 Want to get a hot debate going? Ask people how they feel about the Instant Pot. Most are not ambiguous about their feelings. It is either, "Yeah, this is the best thing since sliced bread," or "What's the deal?"

As many people did, they heard about the wonders of the Instant Pot and after a while you start to question why in the world don't I own one? That was me. Basically, which is really not like me, I did not do much research. Just put it on my Christmas wish list.

Sure enough. There it was for me to open on Christmas Day. After the holidays were over and we were sorting our gifts, I sat down and took the time to read about my wonderful Instant Pot that was going to put dinner on the table in record time. The more that I read, the more fearful that I became of using it.

One of the papers that came with it was neon yellow so that the potential user would not miss it. It read like this:

Please pay attention to all WARNING LABELS before removing them from the pressure cooker. Read IMPORTANT SAFEGUARDS in the manual before using the pressure cooker. DO NOT place hands, face or unprotected skin over the steam release handle while cooker is in operation. DO NO force the lip open when the float valve is still up.

Now, I feel like I an a half-way intelligent human being, it is now time for me to go to the User Manual and find the illustrations that will tell me what and where the steam release handle is and also what the hell is a float valve? 

Found it, only after reading 4 more pages about the safeguards in more detail, plus an overview of how to install the "anti-block shield." This was like a whole new language of how to cook for me. As I looked over the picture of the Control Panel and all of the cooking program keys I was even more confused. "Have patience," is what I continued to tell myself.

It was not until page 15 that the manual talked about positioning the steam release handle to Sealing, as well as talking about using a natural release or a quick release. Let me add that on this page there is a picture of a man leaning over the cooker to try to find the dang steam release button and his face his beet red. There is a box on this picture with a red line drawn through it and a hand held up to indicate STOP. Also, it states that the quick release valve should always be closely attended.

I continued to read and continued to become more and more aggravated with myself for jumping on the bandwagon of wanting one of these small appliances. I found a place in the cupboard to store it until...Really, I was not sure when it would get used. At least it was out of sight for now. I am one that does not like a lot of clutter on the counter tops. Only what is necessary and used daily. The Instant Pot did not fit in this category. 

It was closely thereafter that I decided to try the Low-Carb/High Fat Program and as I started looking on line I was finding lots of recipes and many of them were for the Instant Pot. The ones that appealed to me and my husband were placed in a folder labeled Instant Pot Recipes. 

Finally, in April I came across a recipe that was a Cajun Gumbo, one of my husband's favorites. It was low carb. PERFECT. It looked easy enough. We had all of the ingredients. It stated Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time 10 minutes for a Total Time of 25 minutes. A serving was 340 calories and it had a total of 8.5 net carbs.

We followed the recipe to the letter. Aha! After the 10 minutes is up, the cooker goes automatically to Keep Warm. Then the recipe said to manually release the pressure by turning the release knob to its venting position.  When finished we were to uncover and transfer the chicken to a large plate and shred the meat using 2 forks, then add back into the pot and let the meat soak up all of the sauce. If we wanted it thicker, we were to press saute for 5 - 10 minutes. The venting went on for 20 more minutes. 

Because of the fact that there was not much sauce to thicken we opted to not saute. However, the chicken did not shred. It was most definitely cooked but the texture was not one that was going to be shredded. Get a knife and cut it. It was like rubber. The andouille sausage was not much better. 

Bless Steve's heart, he ate it. I told him that he did not have to. I would make him a piece of zero carb bread toast to spread peanut butter on if he so desired, but he remained a trooper. 

Just for the heck of it, I put on my FaceBook page all of my frustrations with the Instant Pot and our meal. I had no idea that I would get so many comments. It pretty much came out 50/50. Fifty percent said they had one too and were terrified of it and had not used it yet or did not even go buy one. While the other fifty percent could have been in the sales department for the company. It was entertaining. Others told me that I needed to give it time and get used to it. If I spend time cooking, then I want to be able to eat the results. The texture of what I cooked was not edible in my opinion.

So I researched some and I found out some interesting facts. Things that no one, much less the manual tells you. 
  • You must cook the meat longer than it tells you to or else the meat will turn out tough. In fact, one article said to double the time at the minimum.
  • Let it depressurize itself.
  • You need liquid, no matter what the recipe says. You can always use the saute button.
  • This is not the same as steaming your food. (Although, for me, this is what it tasted like.)
  • Never put milk or dairy products in because they will curdle. hmmmmm
Then I found a section on the pros and cons of using the Instant Pot.

PROS                                          CONS

saves you time, apparently     bubble buster: you will
is like a slow cooker on           not have dinner on the
steroids                                 table in 10 minutes

you can put frozen meat         using the microwave
straight in the Instant Pot       will work, just a few
                                            more minutes
you can make hard boiled       the pan or oven is so 
eggs in it                               easy to use instead 

There were many, many more. Why would I want to get my step stool out to drag out the Instant Pot to cook hard boiled eggs when I cook them so easily in the oven and the shells peel off like magic? 

In conclusion, we each have to cook the way that we are most comfortable with. My husband and I love to cook and love to try new recipes out. And, many we are walking into blindly, such as the tried and failed attempt at the Instant Pot. We know that we have great cookware and plan our meals to suit the time that we have available to cook.

The Instant Pot will be boxed up just in case our daughter or daughter in law needs to replace theirs. Or else, eventually it will go to Goodwill or a yard sale. Maybe, I am not being fair by not giving it another chance, but I know what we are comfortable with and the fact that we love to try new recipes. We will just keep on keeping on...


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