I cook a lot.
From mango Thai curries to homemade falafel, I make a from-scratch, homemade meal at least four nights a week.
Often, that means I don’t eat before 9 p.m.
Then I read about the Instant Pot. People were OBSESSED with the little kitchen appliance — seriously, I saw writers, bloggers, homecooks, and professional chefs singing its praises wherever I looked, from the New York Times to Twitter.
Why do people love it so much?
First off, the magic little pot is seven things in one. It’s a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, porridge maker, sauté pan, steamer, and even a yogurt maker (though I haven’t tried that function yet).
It claims to make rice in four minutes, boil potatoes in 12 minutes, cook a whole chicken in 24, and have beef ribs ready in 20.
The writers, bloggers, and cooks said this baby would cut my cooking time in half. That it would improve my meals. That it would make me healthier.
I needed it.
Expecting the worst, I looked it up on Amazon, anticipating a three-digit price tag. When I saw that it was only $69.99 I didn’t hesitate for a second before buying it.
However, a few meals in and I can’t say that I share everyone’s enthusiasm.
There are two reasons for this.
1. You can’t tinker with recipes.
While I definitely use recipes for my cooking, I tend to see them more as suggestions. I’m more of a sprinkle, dash, pat, and glug kinda cook than a 1/8 teaspoon and 2 oz of liquid one. I like to taste my food as I go, adjusting seasonings as I see fit.
With the Instant Pot, this isn’t really an option.
With it, you assemble your meal, literally barricade it inside the pot with a lid that reminds me of the door to a bank vault, and hope for the best.
When your meal is done, that’s what you’ve got. If it’s too watery, too bad. Too bland? Well, you can try and fix it, but generally, what comes out of the pot is what you get. While this might be great for novice cooks or those who don’t like to stray from recipes, I find it difficult to work with.
Even worse, you can’t check whether something is done or not because the lid is fastened shut until the end of the pressure cooking/rice making/sautéeing cycle. So when you put chicken or something in there, you better hope you got the timing right.
Which brings me to my next point.