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Under pressure

Home cooks save time and cupboard space with Instant Pots

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Kim Steele runs the blog thepuffybiscuit.com. Photo by Bruce Murray, VisionFire Studios

Recipes Featured In This Article

Tacos Al Pastor

This recipe adds a zingy sweetness to any dinner party. It’s traditionally served with d...

Pho-Inspired Broth

Serve this Vietnamese-style broth over rare beef and rice noodles. Top with a squeeze of l...

Kim Steele remembers the hiss and steam her mother’s pressure cooker made as it sat on the counter.

“She always put the fear of it into me,” says Steele who now lives in Lower Sackville, N.S. “I was really scared of that thing. I always thought I could never use a pressure cooker.”

Years later, the Instant Pot changed Steele’s mind. After reading reviews online, she bought one in 2017, and was hooked. The first food she prepared in her new Instant Pot was potatoes. “That’s what my mom made all the time,” Steele says. “They taste just like mom’s.”

Steele says she uses her Instant Pot several times a week, cooking dishes like roast chicken and chili. On her blog, thepuffybiscuit.com, she shares family-friendly gluten-free recipes, often employing her Instant Pot.

Designed by a group of ex-Nortel employees in Ottawa, the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and warmer. Top level models offer 10 functions adding cake and yogurt making settings, sauté mode, steamer, warmer and sterilizer. It’s programmable with one-touch controls and cooks food two to six times faster than an oven.

Ilona Daniel is a food writer and executive chef in Charlottetown, P.E.I. She worked at Stanhope Bay and Beach Resort. At home, she uses her Instant Pot for a variety of recipes, despite her initial reluctance toward the trend.

“I’m not one who’s gadget heavy,” Daniel says. “I was intrigued by this seeming miracle, so I thought I had to test it for myself.”
Now Daniel relies on her Instant Pot to make big batches of tomato sauces or braise meat. She says her favourite recipes are brownies and cheesecake. “I really love the brownies,” Daniel says. “They’re not hard and crusty. They become more like a fudge. It’s so tender.”

Daniel says one of the aspects that makes the Instant Pot handier than a slow cooker is the option to cook from frozen. “It can be intimidating because it looks like it’s from the future,” says Daniel. She watched YouTube tutorials to get a better idea of how to use it.

Gabby Peyton is a Newfoundland-based writer and blogs about food at thefoodgirlintown.com. She got her Instant Pot for her birthday in 2018 and uses it at least once a week. She learned her way around the cooker by following Instant Pot Facebook groups and Instagram posts for recipes and advice. One of her favourite creations so far is Tacos al Pastor, which she calls a crowd pleaser and brings to dinner parties.

While Peyton hasn’t made an attempt yet, she thinks traditional Newfoundland dishes like corned beef and cabbage and Figgy Duff, a boiled pudding, would work well as Instant Pot recipes.

Alanna Stockley of Lower Sackville, N.S. says she studies the science behind the Instant Pot, which improves the results she gets when she cooks with it. One of her biggest bits of advice is to always use a liquid such as water or broth in recipes.

Stockley uses hers to make all sorts of broths from leftover vegetables or chicken bones. But her favourite creation is a Pho broth. “This is a broth that usually takes about 14 hours,” Stockley says. “The Instant Pot made it in about four.”

Meanwhile, Steele says the Instant Pot offers another advantage over her stove: It doesn’t heat up her kitchen during the hot summer days. “I think it’s my favourite kitchen appliance,” Steele says. “It’s right up there with the dishwasher.”

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