Should I get it?
Last year my mother in law asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I knew I wanted some kind of kitchen appliance because I wanted to expand my options in the kitchen. My first thought was an air fryer(and I still might get one) but as I was doing my research and checking in stores, I stumbled upon something called an Instant Pot that everyone seemed to be talking about. Hmmm, this sounded interesting. I grabbed an Instant Pot cookbook (which I’ll review soon) to see exactly what I might be able to cook with this thing and became intrigued. Soups, chilis, pot roast, chicken…..hard boiled eggs? This sounded like it was right up my alley so I went for it and received a brand new 8qt Duo Instant Pot (model IP-DUO80) for Christmas (thanks Mom!) and immediately fell in love.
This appliance has made all of my cooking sooo much easier. I use it for everything. On a weekly basis I make hard boiled eggs, a huge amount of brown rice, sometimes white, but mostly brown, and a batch of chicken breasts that I can shred with just a fork. Besides the basics, I transitioned many of my staple recipes to the Instant Pot. I now use it for my chicken soup, chili, and meatballs.
I have also started making homemade mac and cheese with it because it’s much healthier and less expensive than the gluten free box version and my family likes it better than my old homemade version. The IP-DUO80 has 8 different settings, including manual, meat, yogurt, soup, beans/chili, poultry, multigrain, porridge, and steam. To be honest, I usually only use the manual or sauté settings.
History of the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot was invented in 2010 by a team of Canadians. They were trying to create ideas for helping their families to prepare better quality food in less time. What they created was a Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker they called the Instant Pot. It was designed to replace a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and warmer.
Eventually, after a few modifications, newer versions would replace a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté/searing pan, steamer and warming pot. The newest model even sports a microprocessor with Bluetooth technology that allows a user to wirelessly control their Instant Pot using an app on their phone. It’s crazy how advanced we’ve become compared to back in the 1980s when a pressure cooker was just another pot on the stove.
Cooking with the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker first and foremost. The most important thing to remember when cooking with the Instant Pot is that you must add extra liquid or the Instant Pot will never come to full pressure and your food will never cook properly. Also, there are certain abbreviations you will see in cooking instructions for the Instant Pot. NPR means Natural Pressure Release. This means you just let the pot sit there after it is finished cooking while it reduces the pressure inside the pot by itself. QPR means Quick Pressure Release.
There is a valve on the top of the lid that when turned will release the pressure in the pot quickly. Be very careful when you turn this valve. Steam will come out quickly from the middle of the valve and if you don’t keep your fingers away, you will get burned. Some people use a fork or spoon to turn the lid to keep this from happening.
So how does all of this relate to gluten free cooking?
The most important way the Instant Pot helps the gluten free cook is by making the basics so much easier and faster. I use the Instant Pot regularly to quickly cook beans, rice, potatoes, and chicken to use in other recipes or as side dishes. Rice is a major staple for many people on the gluten free diet. Many other grains can also be cooked in the Instant Pot, such as quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and even popcorn! The chicken can be used in everything including grilled chicken salad, stir fry, chicken soup or toppings for a pizza. I also make a batch of hard boiled eggs at least once a week for either breakfast or snacks for the kids.
The Instant Pot makes pot roast fast and easy too. The meat can be cut up and used in multiple soups and casseroles not just for a pot roast dinner. The Instant Pot can also steam vegetables, but honestly, I find it easier to steam them in the microwave.
I also use the Instant Pot to make many of my gluten free dinners. These include chicken soup, chili, and pot roast. I even make a great mac and cheese that we like better than the expensive gluten free boxed version. Throwing in chopped broccoli and ground beef or turkey make it a more complete meal.
Another feature that makes the Instant Pot so much more than a pressure cooker is the sauté feature. I use this feature quite often. It is wonderful for browning meat before cooking. I use this every time I make my pot roast. Browning the meat before cooking keeps the juices inside and gives the pot roast much more flavor in the end. Being able to do this in just one pot makes cleanup so much easier than before. I used to cooked the pot roast in the slow cooker and had to brown the meat in a separate pan. 9 times out of 10 I just threw it into the slow cooker. I was too lazy to make a second mess on the stove.
I also use the sauté feature when I make my mac and cheese. It creates the perfect temperature to melt the cheese into the pasta and brown the meat I throw in at the end of cooking.
My most used basic cooking instructions
Here are my most used cooking instructions. I have a small cheat sheet with these instructions on it to make using the Instant Pot even easier.
Brown rice-1:1.25 (water to rice ratio) cook on manual for 22 minutes QPR
White rice- 1:1.5 (water to rice ratio) cook on manual for 8 minutes QPR
Quinoa-1:2 (quinoa to water ratio) cook on manual for 8 minutes QPR
Eggs-(+2cups water for 8qt or 1.5 cups for 6qt) as many eggs as you want. Set pot for 1 minute let NPR until pin drops, immediately put in the refrigerator
Frozen chicken tenderloins-fill pot 2/3 full add water (see eggs for amounts) cook on manual 22 minutes
Potatoes-(whole) as many as fit in the pot. Add water (see eggs for amounts). Cook on manual for 22 to 25 minutes. This depends on the size of the potatoes (bigger potatoes require longer cooking times).
I hope this helps you get the most out of your Instant Pot. Leave a comment below, I would love to hear about your favorite meals from the Instant Pot.
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