I like my rice cooker, I am okay with my slow cooker. But I would throw them all out in a hot minute to keep my Instant Pot. Instant Pots are a new take on pressure cookers. You may remember pressure cookers by the stories of them exploding and leaving spaghetti sauce stains on the ceiling, or worse. But Instant Pots, and other new pressure cookers are easier with their plugs, built-in timers and safety features.
They cut down the time it takes to cook by approximately 70 percent, which means chicken is done in 15 minutes, dried beans are tender in 35 minutes and a pork shoulder becomes pulled pork in an hour. The best part is that you can throw frozen meat in and it is still done in a short time.
I love my Instant Pot -- if Instant Pots were Mary Kay cosmetics, I would be driving a pink Cadillac by now. I use it at least a couple of times a week. I am terrible at meal planning but I like to grocery shop -- so throwing in frozen chicken thighs with some BBQ sauce and having it ready in 20 minutes is perfect. I make soup every weekend by tossing in some beans or barley, stock, veggies and sometimes a smoked turkey leg or ham hock.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows though. Just like in slow cooking you want to use fattier meats that stand up to braising. And it can be a little bit hard to figure out -- the natural release vs. forced release is something I am still working out. (A good rule of thumb is that if it is something that can't be overcooked (like rice) then you need to do a quick release, if it is something that can wait a bit longer (like stock) then you do a natural release. It definitely takes a few times to figure it out, and I am still always consulting websites to work out the timing.
There is a big community to help you out as well, the Instant Pot site has lots of resources, there are hundereds of Facebook pages some of which specialize in a certain diet or region. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt articles at the Food Lab was what inspired me to try a pressure cooker and the site has lots of recipes -- though they can be a little over-involved for a short-cut cook.
Also, evangelists like me will shout from the rooftops on how it only takes six minutes to make rice, and 15 to make chicken but the machine takes 10 minutes to heat up and then another 10 minutes to release all the pressure so you can open the lid. So six minute rice is really 26 minutes. It's hands-off time, but I'm just warning you.
But there is nothing faster and better for turning tough cuts like pork shoulder, shanks, short ribs into a delicious weekday meal. It's amazing for dried beans and pulses, making hummus from dried chick peas suddenly seems doable on a Tuesday. You can sauté right in the pan, which means you have more flavourful sauces, and you can use the sauté function to reduce them down too. The Instant Pot also has a slow cooker, keep warm, and yogurt making functions.
And risotto. Risotto was a weekend only meal, usually made to impress people. But I can do it in the Instant Pot in six minutes (plus, the heat-up time). It is creamy without needing constant stirring, and I don't add any cream to it. It also makes delicious rice pudding, if that is your thing. (And coconut milk rice pudding is definitely my thing!)
Basic Pressure Cooker Risotto
This risotto is a base for other flavours, sauté mushrooms with the onions and use mushroom stock or veggie stock for a mushroom risotto. The formula of one cup of rice to two cups of stock is consistent, so feel free to double and triple recipe (if your pressure cooker is big enough). Add goat cheese and leftover chicken. Roast butternut squash and add a few roasted cubes in before cooking and top it with more squash and sage. The possibilities are endless.
3 tbsp Olive oil
1-2 clove garlic chopped (or shallot)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cups Arborio or risotto rice
1/3 cup white wine
4 cups chicken or veggie stock (homemade or low-sodium)
pinch of salt (depending on saltiness of stock)
2 tbsp butter (optional)
1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated (optional)
Turn on the sauté function and add a couple tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add in the chopped onion and sauté until almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Add in the chopped garlic. The burner can get a little hot in sauté function, turn it off for a minute if it is too hot.
Add in the two cups of rice, stir continuously until the rice becomes translucent around the edges but still has a white core. Add in the wine and let it boil off. (Because there is no evaporation in the pressure cooker, make sure the wine has boiled off.) Add chicken or veggie stock. Stir.
Turn off the cooker, and turn on the manual setting on high for six minutes. When the time is up, do a quick release. Open the lid and it will look soupy. Stir it and let it sit for one minute. It should be creamy risotto, if it is still a bit wet looking, cover it and let it sit and stir some more. If you need to add more stock, do so and turn on sauté function and stir it for a minute.
Stir in butter (if using) and parmesan (if using) and any other additions. Serve and feel good.