Back in the 1970s when Rival purchased Naxon and created the Crock-Pot name they revolutionized the way we make dinner. Now in the 2000s, we have the Instant Pot. This startling Canadian innovation is reinventing how we cook. It combines the functions of a covered pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yoghurt maker, steamer, and other functions like sautéing and food warming.
With “How To Instant Pot” from Daniel Shumski, author of “Will It Skillet?” and “Will It Waffle?“, you can learn how to use the various functions, what the buttons mean, how to decipher the LCD screen, how to convert your recipes, and everything else you need to know about using the Instant Pot.
Rather than arranging the book by recipe type, this book is arranged by function. Each function of the Instant Pot, except the sautéing and warming functions, have their own chapters with recipes and instructions.
With Chapter 1 “Instant Pot Basics” you get the lowdown on the basic functions for the Instant Pot. The chapter begins with a list of included equipment and optional accessories with a description of each.
Setting up your pot includes what you need to make your first test run, or for reassembling after cleaning. Next is a section covering function and button overviews. This is where you find out what each button means, the preset buttons, the function buttons, and the modifying buttons. The explanation of how to sauté comes next, discussing timing, and heat settings. Uses for the sauté setting and things to know are also included. The keyboard function information is next. Very straightforward information about the temperatures related to the “Keep Warm” function including when and when not to use it.
Next, comes how to speak “Instant Pot” which explains how to decipher the LCD readout field on the front of your machine. Afterwards is a few pages on converting recipes to the Instant Pot, with tips on changing a recipe from a slow cooker to a pressure cooker. Lastly is how to clean the machine, some Instant Pot tips and frequently asked questions, with a list of all the recipes included in the book which can be doubled.
Chapter 2 explains the “Pressure Cooker” functions, with recipes of course. This section explains how the pressure cooker works and how pressure cooker recipes work. It then discusses what is different about pressure cooker recipes, the benefits of natural release versus quick release at the end of your cooking cycle, and the difference between an Instant Pot and other pressure cookers.
For the novice and experienced cooks alike there are pressure cooker tips and potential pitfalls explained. For instance, too much liquid, too little liquid, recipe timing, high altitude modifications, and of course the extremely important pressure cooker safety. Finishing up with pressure cooking tips and tidbits, the recipes then follow.
Disappointingly the recipes do not all include a picture of each dish. What pictures they do have are full-page full-colour and beautifully arranged, but there are few. The recipes each include a brief introduction, the total time, active time, number of servings, as well as very clear instructions. The first recipe I read “Beef Barbacoa Tacos” even went so far as to warn to be careful because steam will whoosh up when adding the sauce. The instructions on setting the Instant Pot up once the initial prep work has been completed was very detailed, explaining each setting and how to set the time correctly. The instructions then go on to explain how to cycle down at the end of cooking, how you’ll know when the pressure has been released and even includes how long the food will last in the fridge. I couldn’t be happier with the level of detail in these recipes.
Several of the recipes are marked “Master Method”, which kind of confused me at first. There was no explanation of what “Master Method” meant. Upon further review, I noticed that these were the base recipes for where there were several options to make different flavours. The first recipe I encountered labelled “Master Method” was the “Beef and Butternut Squash Stew”. This recipe was the base recipe for creating all of the variations which followed like the “Thai Spiced Beef Stew”, the “Meat and Potatoes Beef Stew” etc.
Throughout the book, there are pages called “Quick Fix” which give quick tips for creating many recipes which will be used in other recipes, like “Faux-Roasted Garlic” and “Caramelized Onions” etc. I love these kinds of tips and tricks, they add so much value to a cookbook.
With Chapter 3 the “Slow Cooker” function is explained for the Instant Pot. This chapter explains the value of using the slow cooker feature, temperature, and timing, and converting traditional oven-based recipes to slow cooker as well as slow cooker tips and pitfalls. Then it’s onto the recipes. As with most slow cooker recipes, they are very straightforward, but one of the advantages of the Instant Pot is that you can do things like thickening your sauce using the sauté function afterwards. As with the previous chapter, there are several recipes with variations on a Master Method, and additional tips for flavouring or serving throughout. There is even a “Quick Fix” page with an “Easy Cheese Fondue”.
Chapter 4 is a very short one because I guess the “Rice Maker” function doesn’t really really need a lot of explanation. It does explain the rice cycle temperature and timing etc. and includes a discussion on the rice to water ratio and other measurements. The first recipe, “Lickety-Split White Rice”, is the Master Method with three variations in flavour. Other rice recipes include “Thai-Style Sticky Rice”, “Brown Rice with Sesame Oil”, and “Wholesome Wild Rice with Golden Raisins”.
The “Yogurt Maker” function is described in Chapter 5. It too was short and sweet since yoghurt is just a matter of imagination to create the flavour variations. The beginning of the chapter discusses what the real yoghurt function does, and yoghurt making basics. It goes on to describe making yoghurt in containers, as well as yoghurt experimentation and troubleshooting. The simple homemade plain yoghurt is a Master Method with variations for Greek yoghurt and nonfat yoghurt. The “Do-It-Yourself Ricotta” is also covered with various flavour options. The Quick Fix” page for this chapter gives you a “Crème Fraîche” recipe. The rest of the chapter finishes up with savoury yoghurt options and sweetened yoghurt each with its own flavour variations. The last recipe is a “Mango and Pomegranate Parfait” made with the homemade Greek yoghurt variation. It does look delicious.
The “Steamer” function is covered in Chapter 6. This section explains what’s different about this cycle, the valve positioning, quick release, and other uses for the steamer. Recipes in this chapter include the “Lemon Thyme Steamed Shrimp”, “Sweet Potatoes with Parsley and Balsamic Vinegar”, and more, ending with “Simply Steamed Baby Carrots” and “Mixed Vegetables”, both with several flavour variations.
Great For Experienced And Novice Instant Pot Users
Are you a veteran Instant Pot user and need some new recipes? Or are you a novice using the Instant Pot for the first time? Either way, this is an excellent resource for you. The level of detail in the instruction is superb. While the experienced Instant Pot user will not need this level of detail, it is not overwhelming. Even a novice will be able to make some lovely recipes with this book.
I chose to include the “Wheat Berries With Yoghurt And Honey” recipe. It’s something different and is very straightforward. Only three ingredients for the Master Method and four ingredients for the topping, it is so easy. Enjoy!