After the death of my slow cooker, I decided to go big. I ordered an Instant Pot Slow Cooker. Not a pressure cooker. A slow cooker. I have issues with pressure cookers. A legacy of my mother is the certaintly that a pressure cooker will explode. There are some pictures (Google? YouTube?) of what happens when one of them explodes for real. Impressive! The cooker lid is actually embedded in the ceiling and the stove on which it was cooking is destroyed. I’m pretty sure that’s what Mom had in mind when she refused to use one.
The other thing is that pressure cooked food tastes boiled. Maybe if you are very careful with timing, it’s better, but my goal is not for extreme speed, but for slow cooking. Put the food in. Go take care of whatever you have planned. Have it done by dinner time. No worries in between. Also, no danger of blowing up the kitchen. I’m sure they’ve made big improvements to pressure cooking since last I examined them, but there are three things my mother told me so embedded in my brain they will never leave:
- Don’t waste food. Children are starving in (Asia, Europe, Africa). Asking if I could just pack up my mashed potatoes and send them to the starving children has failed every child who has ever used the line — and I’m pretty sure we all tried it at least once.
- Never destroy a book. Treat books with respect. You may not throw them away, write in them, burn them (God forbid!), or tear them up. Growing up, we had to build an extra room for the books my mother collected.
- Pressure cookers are the cookpots of the Devil. Beware!
Yesterday, my Instant Pot arrived. I had bought the “Instant Pot Aura Multi-Use Programmable Slow Cooker, 6 Quart, No Pressure Cooking Functionality.” Instant Pot also makes pressure cookers and a slow cooker that does something called “sous vide” which I do not understand. To get the “sous vide” functions, I would have had to buy the 8-quart model. I was pretty sure there was nowhere to put anything that large and anyway, what IS sous vide?
Along with my pot, I figured maybe I should get a cookbook because this was a different beast than anything I’d used before. I ordered a book that says it is specifically for this model of the Instant Pot. Sadly, Amazon has yet to deliver the cook book. It was supposed to show up yesterday (it was on the way). It didn’t arrive and now all I’ve got is a message saying they are sorry it’s late and if it isn’t here by the 12th, I can get a refund. I figured there would be at least some basic recipes with the pot. All we wanted to do was cook a chicken. A whole chicken.
The recipes included with it did not include any recipe I would eat, much less serve. For example, things like “beet humous.” Humous is made from chickpeas and tahina with some water, garlic, salt, lemon juice and ground to paste in a food processor. On the side, I like chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, and hot sauce. Served on warm fresh pita (which you can’t get here). Pita is pre-packaged and makes me yearn for the bakery down by Damascus gate in Jerusalem where, at four in the morning, you could eat it hot with fresh zaatar sprinkled on it.
We do the best we can, but I’m going to have to learn to bake pita.
BEET humous is not humous. I don’t know what it is. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. There was no recipe for cooking a chicken. The weirdest set of recipes I’ve ever seen without a single “normal” food choice. I tried looking up recipes for this Instant Pot online, but they were all — every last one of them — intended for a pressure cooker. Which, as I previously noted, this unit is not.
I have a lot of cookbooks. I’ve got Italian, Caribbean, Northern Italian. I’ve got the Mafia cookbooks and a couple of cookbooks I bought in New Orleans (death by butter!), an Irish cookbook I bought in Sligo. I’ve got a Tex-Mex cookbook, antique cookbooks — a lot of them — including an original “Beard On Bread.” I don’t have a slow-cooker cookbook because my usual method of slow cooking was tossing stuff into the pot, turning it on, then coming back from work and serving dinner.
Nothing I found online, helped. All I could do was take my best guess. Owen and I set the pot up for roasting. We set the temperature to 350-degree F (175 C) for 3 hours. It was a nearly 7-pound whole chicken and that’s about what it would take in a regular oven. An hour and a half later, I lifted the lid and the chicken was done. Very done. It had probably been done at least half an hour earlier, but unlike an overcooked roasted chicken, it was not dry. It was great. The leftovers will become chicken soup tomorrow into which I will add matzah balls.
I still am not sure what this machine will do, but it isn’t a slow cooker or at least, it’s a lot more than a slow cooker. It’s a fast cooker, but not a pressure cooker. I’m pretty sure it will do things I’ve never done in any machine. Should the (now two) cookbooks (I ordered another one in case the first one vanishes) ever arrive, I might figure it out.
I should also mention that reading the directions for help in figuring out what each function does will not help you. Whoever wrote it did not speak (or write) English as a native language. You can read it, reread it and realize you still have no idea what it was trying to say. About the most information I gleaned was to not leave it plugged it and be sure to let it cool off before putting it away. It stays hot a long time.
I’m okay with the purchase, though I think I didn’t get what I wanted. It isn’t a slow cooker and its slow cooker function is its least effective function. It may turn out to be much better (and more) than I wanted — or not. It did fine with the chicken. I need to figure out what else it can do that I want to do. I got a good price — and it works, so far. I have a feeling it’ll do things I never tried in the past. It’ll also bake cakes and make yogurt, though I can’t imagine why I’d want to make my own yogurt. I’m glad I didn’t get the sous vide functionality because it would merely confuse me.
Meanwhile, beware of pressure cookers. They are the Devil’s tools!