Why We Bought a Pressure Cooker…Our Review
Sausage, kale, and white bean soup prepared in the pressure cooker. Delicious!
We know all too well that ripping and running from place to place all day leaves the home cook uninspired. So, when caught in a pinch, and the age old, ominous, and sometimes anxiety producing question, “what’s for dinner?” was asked; our default answer often sucked! It would involve golden arches or some other less popular iteration of fast food.
No, we didn’t eat fast food every day, but when we did eat it, we were often disappointed. We were disappointed in ourselves for once again buying crap to eat, and we were disappointed that we paid so much for food that was so terrible. So mundane. So uninspired.
Our goal is to never eat at a fast food restaurant again. However lofty and unrealistic that may be, after ingesting two lifetimes worth of fast foods, we’re simply done with them.
Our motivation to buy a pressure cooker wasn’t just to avoid fast foods, but rather to help improve our overall kitchen life. A kitchen mindset makeover if you will. I’m not saying that the pressure cooker is the holy-grail of cooking. It’s not, but during the week, our lives are very busy. The pressure cooker helps us to hit our goals: cook faster, eat healthier, and make meals that taste great.
The silver and black Instant Pot IP-duo60 is a feature rich 7-in-1 programmable pressure cooker. Clad in stainless steel, it measures 11.8″ H x 13.4″ W x 13.4″ D and weighs 10lbs. It isn’t a one trick pony, it’s a multi-cooker; it can also brown/sauté, slow cook, steam, cook rice, and even make yogurt. As is standard with all electric pressure cookers, there are two release methods; quick and natural.
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Stovetop pressure cooker.
The Instant Pot IP-Duo60 electric pressure cooker is a safe machine; it has 10 safety features. Pressure cookers have come a long way from the early days when there was a danger in using a stovetop pressure cooker (modern stovetop pressure cookers are safe).
Those stovetop pressure cookers were the inspiration of the warnings and raised eyebrows we received from my Mom when we told her that we were getting a pressure cooker. She recalled true stories, scary stories, of people whom had their pressure cooker “blow its lid”.
But rest assured, pressure cookers are safe. In fact, all pressure cookers made after 1995 are required by federal law (U.S.) to have at least 2 self-releasing pressure valves.
There are several very convenient features. The condensation collector means that you don’t have to worry about additional cleanup. It has 2 handles on opposite sides allowing for easy pick-up.
The lid interlocks with the base of the unit which is so designed for both safety and convenience. Along with the other safety features, the interlocking mechanism prevents the lid from quite literally blowing off. When your meal is finished, the Instant Pot ip-duo60 emits a loud beeping sequence that is loud enough to get your attention a different room.
The interlocking lid fits on at an angle, and secures with a roughly 45 degree clockwise turn. This process can take a few tries to get it right. Unlike our slow cooker’s lid, which can only fit on in one direction; there are several ways to put this lid on wrong.
The arrows point to the lid interlocking mechanism.
Although there are arrows that show you the direction to turn to lock or unlock the lid, there isn’t an arrow that shows you where the lid actually attaches. It’s not a big deal though, after cooking with it, we figured it out. If you use the back of the instant pot as a guide, it’ll go on perfect every time.
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The lid is also where you can choose to quick release the steam. You simply turn the nozzle from sealing to venting.
The sealing ring is a silicone gasket that ensures that the pressure cooker is air tight before it is in operation. It is best if you wash it after every use. The one downside is that even if you do wash it, it may still hold on to the aroma of the last dish that you cooked. We’ve experienced this happening with several meals. It isn’t a big deal though, we haven’t experienced any taste contamination.
Coming up to Pressure and Releasing Pressure…
Like all pressure cookers, it takes time for the Instant Pot IP-duo60 to come up to pressure before it starts to work it’s magic. We’ve noticed that the amount of time that it takes for the cooker to come up to pressure depends on how full the inner pot is. Generally, this is 10-15 minutes. When it comes up to pressure the amount of cooking time you have left will appear on the digital display. You must take that in to account when planning your meals.
The pressure release process takes time too. How much time does it take to release pressure? Well, it depends. If you choose the quick release option, steam will instantly shoot out. And it will take just a few minutes to release all of the pressure. If you choose the natural release then your experience will vary. We’ve experienced pressure release times take between 10 and 20 minutes.
Important: make sure that you use the appropriate release method that the recipe calls for.
The Magic of Pressure Cooking…
Inside of the unit is where the magic happens. At the bottom there is the heating unit. The inner pot sits on it. The stainless steel inner pot is large enough to cook a whole chicken. We cooked a 6 pound chicken in it and it took about 6 minutes per pound.
Whole 6lb chicken inside instant pot.
Cooking a whole chicken in less than an hour is impressive, but I was really impressed when we cooked rice and beans in the instant pot duo. We were able to cook perfect rice in just 12 minutes (we had to experiment a little to get it right).
Perfect rice cooked in the pressure cooker.
We’ve cooked pinto beans and white beans to perfection in this bad boy. And although you may have to play around with the settings to get them right, it’s certainly worthwhile.
The stainless inner pot is high quality, it’s made of 18/8 food grade stainless steel. There is a measurement guide on the side of the pot for cups and max fill line. When you first get the pressure cooker, the stainless steel will be shiny and new, after a few uses the inside will be dull. It’s normal though, and it will happen with whatever cooker you get.
Stainless steel inner pot (click for larger image).
On the bottom of the machine there are 4 tiny silicone feet for stability. This is important as there is movement, however slight, taking place inside the machine. These feet prevent damage to your countertop. After numerous meals cooked in this unit, it doesn’t dance around like I’ve experienced with other devices.
Tiny silicone feet for stability (click for larger image).
Bunch of Buttons…
It has many buttons, but don’t let that intimidate you. Each button obviously coordinates with specific meal types and functions. They really are simple buttons, and make using the pressure cooker much more convenient.
Instead of having to remember the cooking times for common pressure cooked foods like porridge (oatmeal, cream of wheat), beans or rice, you simply press a button. Those buttons coordinate with the best cooking times and pressures for each of the foods listed. There is also a manual button, which you can choose when you are using a recipe that doesn’t correspond with any of the other options.
Instant Pot IP-Duo60 interface.
Recipes we’ve tried…
We’ve gotten a lot of value from our instant pot duo so far. We’ve cooked all kinds of dishes including corned beef, tortilla soup, and beef short ribs. I really wish that we had our friend take a picture of the short ribs for us, they were amazing. The best recipe we’ve tried so far. We’ve made rice and oatmeal many times so far.
Below, you can see a picture of another of our favorite recipes; sausage, kale and white bean soup.
Sausage kale and white bean soup up close.
Cools things we want to try
There are some really cool things that you can do in a pressure cooker. We haven’t had the opportunity to make a cheese cake or yogurt in this pressure cooker, but we will update this page when we do.
If there is one issue with the Instant Pot, it’s that the sealing ring can sometimes absorb scents of the food you prepare in it. This issue has actually brought about a new market. If you search on amazon, you will notice that lots of sellers have started to offer replacement sealer rings. Some of the options are actually color coded.
Certain foods like corned beef are particularly pungent which means that those smells are absorbed even more. So you certainly wouldn’t want to use the same silicone ring for corned beef as you would to make homemade yogurt. Having separate sealer rings is a great solution to this problem.
I’ve also come across ceramic nonstick inner pots and glass lids. In fact lots of folks buy the glass lids and instant pot cookbooks.