If you know me, you know that I love to cook. Last year, after reading some blogs and articles, I happened upon the Instant Pot. It hadn't really made it's mark on kitchens yet, and was pretty new, but I was fascinated because I remember my mother cooking with her pressure cooker, and had inherited my grandmother's stovetop cooker but was a little afraid of the rust and grime that had grown on it. After making one chicken in it, however, I thought, "YES!" and wanted a safer and easier to clean option. After doing a little more reserch, I ordered an Instant Pot, received it, and quickly fell in love.
My family ooed, and ahed at the meals coming out of it, and I loved the easy clean-up. I also got the pot in the middle of a time where we had an evening Bible study and were coming home after 7:00pm hungry and ready to eat, so I quickly learned to use the timer function so that our meal was ready for us when we walked in the door. It really was a miracle machine. A few months later, I bought a second one, creating the perfect marriage of cookers in my house, one to make the protein, and one to make the starch, one to make the long yogurt cook, one to use in the meantime, one to make the cake, one to make the meal...you get the picture.
So, what is a pressure cooker, you might ask? A pressure cooker is a pot or machine that cooks with heat and steam pressure. The steam from the liquid inside the pot builds up resulting in pressure and high heat. Water is a better heat conductor that air alone (dry oven heat) or heat conduction from just the bottom of a hot pan. This heat is moist steam heat, and the pressure inside the cooker literally forces the moist heat into the food, cooking it faster (because this heat is at a higher boiling point temperature as well **). All liquid that starts in the cooker, remains in the cooker during the cooking time, so food stays moist and also cooks faster, resulting in tender and juicy meats, quickly steamed veggies, and perfect grains. Cooking time is cut shorter because the food heats faster, and therefore cooks faster. The food also absorbs moisture while it's cooking, which is why rice, which usually steams in 20 minutes, can cook perfectly in 12, and pasta cooks in half the time.
**Cooking under pressure also raises the boiling point of the water, so where regular boiling or cooking in a pot on the stove limits the boiling point to 212F, cooking under pressure raises the boiling point as high as 250F, allowing the food to cook faster in this respect as well.
So, why get an electric pressure cooker? What makes it different from our Grandma's? The electric pressure cooker is, for one, much safer than our grandma's pressure cooker. Many advances in technology have been made in the past, 50+ years. The electric cookers of today cook at a consistent heat and temperature every time. So the recipe I cooked yesterday, will cook exactly the same today, at the press of an automated button, whereas if I was relying on my own eyeballs to adjust the flame on my stove for temperature...and let's say I walk away and cook it a few minutes over the time I was supposed to = big mistake and some super mushy food. Stovetop cookers do cook at a higher heat than electric cookers, resulting in higher pressure, but you can't leave the house with it cooking, like you can an electric pressure cooker. The electric version has preset buttons and times, and also once it quits, will remain warm and keep the food in it warm for a preset amount of time. I love this because it can be a fix it and forget it meal, ready and waiting for us when we are. There is also less wiggle room on getting the lid on correctly, so there's a smaller (like VERY small) likelihood that your pressure cooking will explode in your face like those of the days of old.
What do you cook in a pressure cooker? Basically anything! Remember the cooker needs liquid to come to pressure, about 1 cup or so, depending in the size of your particular cooker, but this could even just be water under a steamer basket if you aren't wanting a liquid-y meal, unlike a Crock Pot meal that always has to be wet.
Most Crock Pot recipes can be adjusted to work with the Instant pot. You will just want to leave any dairy ingredients out until after the pressure is released, because dairy curdles under pressure. So let's say you're making a Pasta a la Vodka, you'd cook the pasta and tomato sauce, release the pressure and add the cream. Make sense?
There can be a bit of a learning curve at first, I've had a couple flops, but not many. For my first cook I did a potato. That way I could see how it worked but didn't have a lot of money on the table if it did not turn out. I have to be honest, that potato was one of my first flops, but it helped me to figure out how it worked, and I moved on from there with my new found knowledge.
You can purchase your pressure cooker through the links below. I do have an Amazon Associate's account, so it does help me out a little when you do use my links. I like the Instant Pot brand, just because it's the leading brand and most recipes you will find, have Instant Pot buttons and programing in mind. There are many accessories that are made especially for it as well.
If you have an Instant Pot, or want to grab some recipes for the new pot your order, you're welcome to join us HERE ---> https://www.facebook.com/groups/251580308575535/
I also highly recommend the official Instant Pot Facebook group, though you may have to wade through a few yogurt and cheesecake posts to find savory meal recipes. They're a super resource for questions and troubleshooting. ---> https://www.facebook.com/groups/InstantPotCommunity/
The Instant Pot recipes page is a great resource as well ---> http://instantpot.com/recipes/
I will try to start posting more recipes here as well (or at least the ones that I take pictures of that look good). But please do join our Facebook group (the first one). We try to file our tried and true recipes by category, so they're easy to find.
I will also be scheduling another Instant Pot Party soon. We will cook some of the same recipes as last time, and some new ones, so stay tuned! If there's not an Instant Pot group in your area, start one yourself! It's easy! Just get friends together and cook, eat it all when you're finished.
If you have a big family, want to be able to cook a large turkey breast or two, you might want the 8 quart. We are a family of 5 and the 6 quart works fine for us.
Having different silicone sealing rings is helpful also, because they do absorb the flavor of whatever you cook. I have one that's for sweet things like oatmeal or cheesecake, and one for savory things that have garlic and onion flavors in them. I switch them out accordingly.