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Taking the Instant Pot out for a road test

I’m late to the instant pot craze. In fact, I actively resist it.

But with an almost cult-like following of 1.3 million people on the Facebook Instant Pot Community page, I have to give it a try.

The Instant Pot, which was invented by a Canadian, is a combination of a slow cooker and an electric pressure cooker. A new model is coming out this spring and it is expected to include a canning feature.

In addition to the canning feature, it will have an automatic stirrer and more venting options and a larger, easier-to-read touch screen.

If they incorporated a deep fryer feature, I would be sold.

I’ve carried out some research and have been using the pot, and now I have a few observations.

When you think about pressure cookers and slow cookers you right away know they are best suited for hearty stews, nourishing soups and tender braises. You could work with the more tender cuts but why would you. The less-tender cuts cook quickly without help.

The real benefit of the Instant Pot is the saute feature. Meats can be seared first in the same pot adding another layer of flavour.

Everyone I talk to loves the pot because it’s fast. I suppose, if you want to take meat out of the freezer for a last-minute supper, that is a benefit, but it really isn’t all that fast for shorter cooking foods.

It takes from five to 10 minutes to heat up and pressurize, then after the cooking time, it must cool down to depressurize. So, this can add an additional 20 to 25 minutes to the actual cooking time stated in the recipe.

I found the user’s manual lacking in advice on cleaning and care of the pot. There is a rubber gasket in the lid. It should be washed after every use. It is a little difficult to remove but this step is important for optimum performance. The gasket should not be replaced until you use it again. The life of this gasket is prolonged if it is removed when not in use.

The true test of an appliance is when you make one of your old favourite recipes with it. This soup turned out very nice.

  • 5-6 c. yellow onions, thinly sliced 1.25 – 1.5 L
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil 15 mL
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 3 tbsp. flour 45 mL
  • 6 c. beef stock 1.5 L
  • 1 c. wine, dry red or white 250 mL
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. ground sage 2 mL
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 oz. Swiss cheese, grated 365 g
  • 4 oz. parmesan cheese, grated 115 g
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 -3 tbsp. cognac 30 – 45 mL
  • 8 slices French bread, about 1 inch thick 2.5 cm
  • 1/4 c. olive oil, for drizzling 60 mL

Add one tablespoon (15 mL) cooking oil and two tablespoons (30 mL) butter to the inner pot. Add sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with oil. Press saute button and cook until the onions are starting to caramelize and soft.

Add 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) sugar and one teaspoon (5 mL) salt and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the onions have browned. Add three tablespoons (45 mL) flour to onions. Brown flour for two to three minutes.

Stir in about one cup (250 mL) of warm stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all of the cooked-on bits. Add rest of the stock, wine, sage, and bay leaf to soup.
Press cancel. Put lid on the Instant Pot and lock. Press soup and cook. When cycle has finished, use the quick pressure release.

To make croutons, heat oven to 325 F (160 C). Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes in oven on each side.

When the Instant Pot is ready to open, taste soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Remove bay leaf. Add two to three tablespoons (30-45 mL) cognac and grate the 1/2 raw onion into soup. Add a few ounces of Swiss cheese directly into soup and stir.

Ladle soup into individual serving bowls.

Place toasted bread in a single layer on top of the soup.

Sprinkle the rest of cheese in a thick layer on top of bread, making sure to cover edges of the toast to prevent burning.
Drizzle with a little oil or melted butter.

Place in a 350 F (180 C) oven for about 30 minutes.

Turn on broiler and brown cheese well. Let cool for a few minutes and serve. Adapted from Julia Child.<

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

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