The Instant Pot is hot. But can it handle your favorite recipe?
The Instant Pot. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post) It’s winter: We’ve nested inside, we’re ready for stews and braises, but we’re still strapped to that infernal invention, the clock. There are rarely enough minutes, at least not when we want them. That’s why some of us cooks want comfort food fast from the latest countertop pressure cooker; some depend on the all-day, no-fuss convenience of a slow cooker; and some prefer the stove-top Dutch oven, which requires a bit of finesse. (Is that sauce too thin?) In the end, most of us want all three: fast for busy nights, all-day slow when we have enough energy (and forethought) to get the meal going in the morning, and perhaps a more organic and hands-on approach for a quiet weekend at home. Modern electric multi-cookers get us closer to one-pot convenience. They offer both slow-cooker and pressure-cooker settings (as well as rice-cooker and even yogurt-maker settings). In fact, some of these multi-cookers have become culinary celebrities. The official Instant Pot group on Facebook has a roster of almost 300,000 members. Those and other pots come with lots of presets for chicken, risotto and more. Dump things inside, cover, and dinner’s almost done. Manufacturers are going all in. Next-generation models will even be wirelessly connected to your phone. Patricio Barriga, chief executive of Fagor America, cites these multi-cookers as the major area of growth for his company. The pots “provide peace of mind with no fear factor,” he says. If you want to follow recipes in the provided booklets, your problems are solved. Or almost solved. What if you want to take one of those recipes for the pressure cooker and turn it into a slow-cooker meal? Or what if you find a Dutch oven recipe you like and want to convert it for a pressure cooker? Unfortunately, recipes don’t translate well among the applications. White Bean, Chickpea and Tomato Stew. (Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post) Using a single recipe among the various methods often yields poor results. J. Kenji López-Alt, managing culinary editor of Serious Eats and author of “The Food Lab,” has demonstrated that when he used the same recipe (but adjusted the timing), slow cookers produced inferior food compared with Dutch ovens or pressure cookers. Clearly, the methods aren’t instantly interchangeable. And good recipes are written for the...Read the full article here