Cooking under pressure: Instant Pot becomes a hot item

Special to the Sunday News
November 10. 2017 6:27PM
The Instant Pot is a multi-function pressure cooker manufactured in Canada. (INSTANT POT)

Slow cookers are meeting their match.

With the weather suddenly cooler, home chefs are braising roasts and dusting off their Crock-Pots (if they were ever stored away at all?).

But others are choosing a new route: the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is a multi-use (7-plus features), programmable pressure cooker designed to make cooking convenient, dependable and safe. Some say the device helps take the pressure off meal making and are throwing impromptu parties to show off their gadgets. The pot is a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan and warming pot.

Liz Durant of Hopkinton, a personal trainer and nutrition coach, began using the pot several months ago and was smitten. She is well-known tastemaker in the area, and when she recommends something, a lot of people listen.

When it comes to busy moms cooking for kids, she said, the Instant Pot replaces unhealthy food.

"No more chicken fingers and grilled cheese sandwiches," says Durant.

When Durant has time (she owns Affinity Fitness) she takes her pot and enthusiasm on the road to demonstrate to magic of the pot to tepid and curious cooks. She doesn't represent the Instant Pot brand, nor does she sell it. For Durant, it's all about blending good nutrition and good food into a healthy and active lifestyle. For her, anything goes.

"Steam some fresh hen eggs and you will never go back to hardboiled eggs in your life," says Durant with infectious enthusiasm. She's made cupcakes in the Instant Pot and hopes to master the recipe for New York cheesecake.

Cassandra Kramer of Bow, a friend of Durant's, recently invited several of her neighbors over to drink some wine and watch Durant's show and tell.

Into the pot went brown rice, salsa, kidney beans, corn and chicken stock. Durant then placed a layer of whole chicken breasts on top, threw in some pre-measured spices, turned on the pot and took a sip of wine. In less than 25 minutes, the steamy dinner was done and served. It was tenderized, flavorful, moist and juicy.

One bite and Tara Weckstein was sold. "I'm going to go out and buy one. Seriously, I'm getting one this week," says Weckstein, who was floored by the flavor on her plate.

"Time! That's what I like about the pot," said Melissa Louf. "Things are cooked so quickly."
Liz Durant of Hopkinton, a personal trainer and fitness coach, has become an Instant Pot evangelist. (LISA BROWN)

The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, made in Canada, came on the market several years ago, but didn't become the rave until this year when users began to post their love and affection on social media.

The company does no advertising on TV or in print, relying instead on word of mouth. You can find the pot in Wal-Mart, Target and several other stores and range in price from $79.00-$160.00, but it is Amazon that has benefited the most; the Instant Pot is one of Amazon's best-selling items in the U.S. market. The Instant Pot Facebook page has 790,00 followers and growing.

Google "Instant Pot" and you'll find blogs, recipes, reviews, instructions, tips and a whole new sub-culture. Yes, some users are even called "Pot Heads."

Pam Duffy of Bow says she just doesn't have time to cook. "I enjoy cooking on the weekends but not during the week when life is very busy," says Duffy. "Frankly, I would much rather be doing other things than sautéing veggies and cooking protein separately."

One of the big advantages in using the Instant Pot is spontaneity. If you have a bag of hard lentils or beans, you don't have to soak them overnight; they can cook in 20 minutes. Frozen food doesn't have to be thawed, it just goes straight into the pot. If you detest washing cookware, the Instant Pot is a single pot that's easy to clean.

For Cassandra Kramer, the Instant Pot can be a life-saver. After a long weekend away from home, her cupboard was bare. "I said, 'What do I have?' I had chicken thighs frozen and didn't have time to defrost them, but then I realized I had Instant Pot," says Kramer. "Dinner was done in a half-hour and it was delicious."

Instant Pot Southwestern Chicken and Rice

1 1/2 cups brown rice

3/4 cup salsa

1 15oz can of kidney beans (drained)

1/2 cup corn

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

Place rice, salsa, kidney beans, corn and broth in the Instant Pot. Stir. 

Place chicken breasts over mixture. 

Secure lid and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Let pressure naturally release. 

Remove chicken breasts and shred into bite-sized pieces. 

Fluff the rice and serve.

Recipe for Sweet Potato Soup

1 large onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

3-4 cloves, finely diced

½ red chili, diced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon paprika

1 lb. sweet potato, diced into cubes

1 can black beans

2 cups canned tomatoes

3 cups water

1 cube vegetable stock

Juice of ½ lime

Serve with one avocado diced, handful of crumbled tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream and 1-2 tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese.

Human InterestLifestyleFoodTechnologyGeneral NewsHopkinton

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required