Growing a lot of beans alone is enough to earn my Instant Pot (I cook LOTS of beans.)
The pressure cook feature – popular with beans, large and small pieces of meat, soups, and stews prompts many people to purchase an instant pot or one of the many other multicookers on the market. But there are plenty of other ways to get the most out of these devices, both using the pressure cooker feature for less obvious tasks and other built-in features that you might not have played with yet.
Here is a rundown of my top picks.
I’m a huge fan of the steamed vegetables in the Instant Pot. I often open “Martha Stewart’s Pressure Cooker” because it has such large reference tables with cook times for various foods (vegetables, grains, beans), so I tend to stick with the strategy that is listed there. For 1 to 3 pounds of vegetables, put 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt (as kosher; use half for finer salts) in the bottom of the multi-cooker pot. Then I insert the steamer basket, but you can also use the steamer insert that came with the stove or just put the vegetables directly in the water.
The pot will reach pressure (at maximum) fairly quickly, after which the vegetables will steam quickly. Then finish with a manual release of the pressure. The times, from 0 (as in the case of stopping the pan as soon as it reaches pressure) to 8 minutes, will vary depending on the level of tenderness desired, and the type and size of your products, with flags of broccoli and cauliflower, green beans and chopped potatoes on the bottom and carrots and beets on top. You can always go wrong on the lower end and then check it out. If you need more time, the stove will return to pressure almost instantly after you put the lid back on and sealed.
Steaming can be particularly useful for quickly preparing small frozen pieces of meat, which can be placed in the pot directly from the freezer. Most of the time I just cook steamed chicken for my dog! I usually put about 1 cup of water or broth, then put the chicken in the steamer basket over the liquid. Times depend on the size and whether the piece is boneless or not, but I cook 12-20 minutes. Again, it’s easy to control the temperature and add more time if needed. There’s a lot of information about suggested cooking times online, like this Instant Pot chart (it also has suggestions for other types of food). They can also be used as a slow cooker, just like the good old slow cookers. Probably besides the beans, the thing I do the most with my Instant Pot is used to make steel-cut oats overnight. I cook them slowly in a 3 to 1 ratio of water and oats, with some dried fruit, for 8 to 10 hours and let it “keep warm” so that when I wake up, oats will soak overnight, and be ready for breakfast. All leftovers keep well for a few days and heat up beautifully in the microwave.
A good number of sources offering pressure cooker recipes will also include a slow cook time if you choose to go this route quite simple. However, if you want to adapt a recipe designed for a traditional slow cooker to make in a multicooker, it can be a bit more complicated.
The first step is to choose the right setting. I encourage you to check out the recommendations for your particular model. Instant Pot, for example, indicates that on its slow cook function, less is a low slow cooker setting (8 hours); Normal is a medium-slow cooker setting (6 hours), and the Plus model is a high slow cooker setting (4 hours). You may also see varying results due to the differences in shape, as slow cookers typically have a larger surface area and texture, multicooker have a heating element on the bottom, and slow cookers often have a strip on the side as well. Slow cookers allow more steam to be released, while multicooker, even with a vented lid, tend to retain it can vary widely, resulting in uneven or longer cooking times. These aren’t headaches, but they’re worth keeping in mind as you get to know your appliance and recipes, which you may need to adjust.
Even at the end of the day: Have you tried the yogurt setting on your multicooker? It sounds a little off but there are ways to follow to precautions. But it’s worth it. Making yogurt at home is super easy and super delicious.
Using it as an additional cooker
Multicookers come equipped with a sauté or sear function, meaning you can use them just as you would a pot or pan on a traditional hob. This can come in handy when your cook top is full, or you can’t (renovate the kitchen) or don’t want (summer heat) to turn it on. Make sure to take into consideration that the surface area of the pot is likely smaller than some of your pots or pans, and multicooker can overheat, which means you have to be careful and adjust the heat as needed. If something starts to burn, you can get an alarm and automatic shutdown.
If you plan to try recipes that need to be cooked with a lid or ajar, consider purchasing a glass lid to fit your multicooker or repurpose the one you already have the size of. This will help you monitor your food and allow for better steam release.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
Crisp, golden candy will not reach your multicooker. Instead, as cookbook author Jessie Sheehan wrote for us, focus on the elements that benefit from steaming: “The Instant Pot is great at ‘cooking’ succulents. , creams and puddings, cakes with a thick and moist crumb; think sticky caramel pudding or thick “snack cakes” (since IP only “bakes” one layer of cake at a time, it is always perfect for snacking), crème brûlée, rice pudding, custard, clafoutis, jars of chocolate cream, lemon pudding and… cheesecake and bread pudding ”. As she points out, desserts in a 7-inch cake pan work well, as do those you can make in individual pans.
Does dulce de leche eat with a spoon count as dessert? In my book, is it? Homemade dulce de leche is easily accessible with the instant pot. See directions in Alfajores (cornstarch cookies with dulce de leche).