No, not *that* kind of pot… an Instant Pot®
(Look, I am not above using clickbait to draw a reader in - if this bothers you, I won't be offended if you simply scroll to the bottom and leave a "LOL" comment just to get your daily SparkPoint)
About a year and a half ago, I received an Instant Pot for my birthday. On the surface, I thought, "okay, an electric pressure cooker, that's nice." Getting one wasn't on my radar and, to be perfectly candid, had I not gotten one then I suspect it *still* wouldn't be on my radar. It's just not my style of cooking.
Or so I thought.
Since I had it, I figured I may as well see what all the hubbub was about and tried a few dishes in it. Didn't take long before I was a committed pot head (a self-applied term of endearment many of us devotees use).
From a "healthy cooking" perspective, there's a lot to be gained by using this device. Like with the sous vide post I wrote ( www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
) one of the biggest advantages is that it's a sealed environment so you don't lose a food's natural juices like you would in a traditional oven or stove top cooking method. When the instructions are followed, food comes out fare more moist than usual techniques.
Then there's the time factor. Because you can heat water past the boiling temperature inside a pressurized vessel, the liquid inside the IP can reach upward of 250 degrees F. With the pressure forcing that heat into the food, your food will be done much faster. More than once I've thrown a couple of frozen chicken breasts right from the freezer into the IP and set it for 16 minutes. At the end , the chicken breasts are cooked perfectly. Imagine - 16 minutes from frozen solid to cooked and piping hot! (in the interest of transparency, that's 16 minutes at full pressure. It can take 10 minutes to come up to pressure and another 5-10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally so that you can take the lid off. But still...)
Hard boiled eggs - I can do hard boiled eggs with a 4-4-4 method: 4 minutes at high pressure, then let the IP rest for 4 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure, then 4 minutes in an ice bath to stop the cooking. These eggs practically fall out of their shells. But here's the real advantage - I can do a dozen eggs with merely one cup of water. The IP uses less energy than the stove top, I use far less water, plus I can walk away and ignore the IP while the eggs cook.
But my favorite???
I love ramen. Not the craptastic instant coronary packages from our college days, but thick, luscious broths with a proper al dente noodle (to mix my food nationalities) noodle, a properly soft-boiled egg, a couple of pork slices...
Oh wow, I just talked myself into a bowl of ramen - hang on, I'll be right back
(**muzak plays in the background**)
Okay, I'm back.
Making your own Tonkotsu ramen broth on the stove can easily take 10, 11, or even 12 hours. And you have to pay close attention. But, in the IP, it took only three hours (after roasting the veggies, of course). And even though it was only ¼ the time, because of the pressurized environment, all the flavor and texture was still extracted.
I need to wrap this up - I am not saying you need an Instant Pot so that you can spend hours making homemade broths or other exotic items, but if you find yourself lacking time - ESPECIALLY during the work week - give an Instant Pot (or other brand) a serious consideration. Last night I made a Miso Risotto that took a total of 20 minutes from start to sitting down with my family to eat.
It's easy to use, safe, and makes eating healthy food at home during the week an accessible activity again.