Dear Instant Pot,
Over the past two years, you have been all the rage. So many times, I’ve had conversations with Instant Pot owners who sang your praises. They spoke of magical moments of pulling out frozen meat and having amazing tacos for dinner in mere minutes. How is that possible? There must be a catch, I often thought, mouth watering, fantasizing about the delicious meal they’d have prepared within a half hour of returning home.
When my neighbor got one for her birthday, I just had to partake in the first meal. With a glass of wine in hand, I watched, mesmerized, as she made a Mexican-inspired chicken and rice dish in no time flat. Oh, had I begun to covet you.
Finally, I got the call I’ve been waiting for from my editor. “Do you want to test an Instant Pot?” I was beside myself with giddiness. “There’s a catch,” she said. “It’s a smart appliance.” She’s seen me battle smart appliances before, so I understood her apprehension. In my experience, adding an app doesn’t always improve the experience. Still, it’s an Instant Pot!
“Challenge accepted,” I responded gleefully, wondering which of the captivating dishes I’ve seen on Pinterest I would make first. Based on the hype, I was certain it would make my meals quicker, easier, and better.
When the Instant Pot Smart WiFi Programmable Pressure Cooker arrived, I unpacked it carefully, read all the instructions, and assembled it. You need some finger strength to remove the anti-block shield, but the rest was a breeze. The “smart” aspect of the device comes in the form of an app. After I downloaded the app to my iPhone and took it for a spin, I perused the variety of recipes. I picked two I couldn’t wait to try: beef stroganoff and baked potato soup. Hey, don’t judge, it’s winter I need to keep some meat on the old bones. Your app is quite straight forward, and you can even assemble a shopping list. Though I couldn’t really get that part to act right. Still, the ingredients were already on my phone, which made it easy to fix.
First up was the beef stroganoff recipe. According to the recipe, it should only take 30 minutes to cook and only five minutes to prepare. Fantastic! I envisioned my dreams of quick and easy meals coming true.
But I soon learned that the preparation called for one-inch pieces of stew meat, a large diced onion, one teaspoon of minced garlic, and a bevy of other ingredients. Once prepped, I still had to brown the meat in your pot. Preparing those things in five minutes and browning two pounds of meat took a lot more than five minutes. But I must say, I’m a big fan (and so are my dishwashing hands) of being able to saut and do everything in the same pot. About half an hour later instead of five minutes, I was ready to get the pressure cooking part going. Following the instructions, I simply pressed the Cook Now button in the app, and the magic started to happen.
It took you about 20 minutes to get the pressure part going before the seven minutes of cooking started. It seemed so much faster at my friend’s house. Then again, I was drinking a glass of wine while she did all the cooking. Let’s be honest, wine does have a way of playing tricks with the clock: it can slow down and speed up time with equal skill.
I will say that I particularly appreciated how the app sent my phone updates on the status of my meal. It was quite delightful to keep me in the loop like that, though I could clearly hear the beeps the Instant Pot made as it maneuvered through cooking phases with ease. But there might have been too much liquid in the bowl because the condensation collector started to overflow, making my counter a bit wet.
I then got the noodles going. Here’s a recipe note, Instant Pot: maybe work that in as a step on the app, so everything will be ready at the same time. I’m just being picky because well, that’s my job. You did go into keeping warm mode after all. Overall, while the sauce was delicious, the meat unfortunately was a bit tough. But stew meat is tough and typically benefits from slow cooking to loosen it up.
I’m happy to say the baked potato soup fared much better, and darn, it was addictive. This time the condensation collector didn’t over flow and the cook time was perfect.
With this win under my belt, and my adoration growing for you even more, it was time to do the frozen meat test. The rumors you’ve heard are true: just throwing in frozen chicken thighs (separated, of course) with some water and setting the pressure cooker to high does produce perfectly cooked chicken in about half an hour. HALF AN HOUR! I don’t know of any other device that that promises, and delivers, on such a thing.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing to you is to say thanks for bringing the pressure cooker into this millennium, and more importantly, into my life. In my parents’ time, it wasn’t unheard of to have the pot explode and spray food all over a stylish (for the time) avocado green kitchen. In an advancement in technology, the Instant Pot won’t even start unless the top is securely in place. Bravo! And even though I still have to spend more than the five minutes on prep time, I’m still so glad to have you.
I only wish I you were here when I lived in my tiny studio apartment in New York with tiny house appliances (long before that was cool) and makeshift counter spaces. With all the things you can do, (bake, saut, pressure cook, slow cook, steam, and make porridge (in case three bears are coming over), beans, rice, soup, and yogurt), you would have been the ultimate young-person-with-a-tiny-kitchen cooking appliance. No wonder you’re all the rage.
Product Reviewer and Instant Pot fan
P.S. My favorite “smart” feature you offer is that I’ll never have to set the clock again since it gets that information from my Wi-Fi network.