The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Has A Cult Following – And Now I Know Why

It means my family can actually eat at the same time.
HuffPost UK

‘Honestly, it’s life changing’ is a regular series where we talk about the weird and wonderful possessions we can’t imagine life without. Think of it as an ode to the mundane, bizarre and, sometimes, wholly unnecessary products in our lives.

I’d heard of the Instant Pot before I saw one for myself. It’s that kind of product which has gathered an almost cult-like following – imagine a crowd of villagers gathered in awe around this futuristic-looking casserole dish, a bit like when the Coke bottle fell from the sky in the 1980 film, The Gods Must Be Crazy, or that episode of Father Ted with the fancy tea machine.

And then my family got one – and it’s the goddamn best.

We’d been talking about buying a slow cooker for ages, and we wanted a rice cooker as well. Then we got an Instant Pot and suddenly we had both. In fact, it claims to be a ‘7-in-1’ cooker – pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yoghurt maker, searing pan, steamer and food warmer – but I have no desire to make my own yoghurt. I’m not a weirdo.

The main thing the Instant Pot does is cook stuff absurdly quickly that would normally take you a while. And for those who no longer have the time or the freedom for more leisurely cooking, it’s a game-changer.

Amazon / HuffPost UK

As a freelance writer, I have carefully cultivated a weekly schedule that means I am always behind on work and dangerously stressed. As a father, I am always already out of my depth and dangerously stressed. My wife works full-time and my daughter is in nursery five days a week. The three of us sitting down to eat together as a family feels rare but important. And we just about can with this.

The Instant Pot was invented by a Canadian AI expert, but all you need to know is that this means you can do slow cooking… fast. I don’t understand it and the fact that most of it happens while sealed inside an opaque metal case gives it an air of magic – but it works.

Something to do with pressure, and steam, and temperature, and Christ knows what, means you can chuck a bunch of food in with no real care and half an hour later sit down to something magnificent. You can do a stew in, what, 45 minutes? And you end up with beautifully tender meat falling off the bone. The first thing my wife made in it – a short-rib ragu – is just about the best thing I’ve ever eaten, and went from a vague thought to satisfied belches in an hour.

It’s also pleasingly intense. For an item that feels really high-tech, it coughs and splutters quite terrifyingly when you release the pressure, shooting a jet of steam into your kitchen ceiling for way longer than you’d expect it to. I love it!

The Instant Pot is not cheap – currently retailing for a hundred quid on Amazon – but it definitely feels like it pays for itself over time. Slow cooking is good for softening up cheaper cuts of meat and I’m guessing the electricity required to power half an hour in there costs less than the gas of cooking something in, or on, the oven for four times that long.

Nor is it perfect – not everyone is as into mush as me (although my daughter going bonkers for the “everything stew” I made with it suggests mush-love might be genetic). A lot of recipes are pretty much “chuck it all in, seal the lid, press some buttons and sod off for half an hour”, which makes it hard to be genuinely proud of anything you make in it. And when you do a poor job, as I did last night with an underwhelming chicken biryani, you feel like a dumbass.

But it’s meant our family of three all get to eat together without a huge amount of stress, and I hear my daughter shout things like “More chicken! More!” and spit the dinner I made for her everywhere, or pour her soup on her leg for fun, and that’s brilliant. I love you, Instant Pot.

You can buy it here.

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