Why Mama Would Approve of the Instant Pot
Yes, she will learn to love it as much as her cast iron skillet.
If you don't already own an Instant Pot, there's a good chance you found one under the Christmas tree. Or have one in your Amazon shopping cart right now. The trendy one-pot "7-in-1 multi-functional cooker" does the job of multiple appliances, earning rave reviews and a growing fan base on Facebook. It's the Inspector Gadget of multicookers, designed to replace your slow cooker, rice cooker, pressure cooker, Dutch oven, and more. If you (or Mama) are still not convinced that the Instant Pot is worth precious counter space, read on:
It's a slow cooker.
Okay, we get it. Mama already loves her slow cooker. She's pretty darn attached to the thing. But the Instant Pot takes things to the next level with an internal microprocessor that adjusts the heat for more consistent results. It also has a 24-hour timer and setting that allows you to keep food warm until you serve it—perfect for big batches of game day beef chili, or holiday side dishes like mashed potatoes.
It's a pressure cooker.
The Instant Pot seems to get the most rave reviews for its pressure cooking function. But even the most seasoned cooks (we're looking at you, Mama) can be put off by pressure cookers. One run-in with scalding steam or a blown lid is enough to permanently banish a pressure cooker to the highest cabinet in your kitchen. Thanfully the newer generation of multicookers like the Instant Pot have evolved, taking the fear and guesswork out of pressure cooking. Pressure cooking is similar to slow cooking—you can set it and forget it—but it cuts the cooking time down dramatically. We're talking soft, creamy beans (from dried!) in about 40 minutes—no pre-soaking required! Hard-boiled eggs and baked potatoes in minutes. A whole chicken in less than an hour. And the Instant Pot is designed in a way that shows you when the lid is safely locked and when it's safe to open the pot.
You can cook grains in it.
If Mama's a fan of oatmeal in the morning or a bowl of rice pudding for dessert, she'll be excited about how quickly she can make batches of both in the Instant Pot. The appliance is great for cooking grains, especially rice.
You can use it as a regular old pot.
If you don't feel like getting out your heavy cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, you can use the Instant Pot for all sorts of random cooking jobs. The cooking pot is good for sautéing onions, steaming vegetables, or even browning meat. (You should always brown meat before slow cooking it, and the Instant Pot saves you from dirtying an extra pan.)
You can bake in it.
Mama might be surprised by all of the desserts you can make in an Instant Pot. A quick Google search will turn up all sorts of recipes from Instant Pot fanatics, including cheesecakes, fruit cobbler, puddings and custards, and bread pudding. Some people even love using it for quick breads.
You can even make yogurt in it.
There is a yogurt-making setting if Mama's into that sort of thing.