Instant Pots Are Actually Good At Slow Cooking
ny healthy relationship is based on compromises. That’s why there’s probably no room in my friend’s apartment for my slow cooker and instant pot. Before we met, I lived in my Workshop for almost eight years – a lot of time to collect all kinds of kitchen utensils, tools and appliances. I bought the slow cooker first, with a clear sense of what I wanted to do: soups, chili, maybe a little bolognese.
The Instant Pot, on the other hand, was an impulse purchase. I didn’t really know what I would do with this versatile cooker marketed as a “7-in-1” appliance. But apparently everyone bought one. And it was on sale for Black Friday as it always is. According to My Amazon order history, I threw in a 9-inch springform pan and a reversible cast iron grill/pan. I doubt these will be able to make the trip to my friend’s house too.
Among the seven functions of the Duo 60 (fast cooking, slow cooking, rice, yogurt, steaming, sautéing and heating), slow cooking was clearly my comfort zone. The problem is that the Instant Pot is not very good, at least not immediately after unpacking. The same sealed lid that makes the PI so adept at cooking rice, beans and meat quickly is ill-suited for the task of slow cooking, which requires significant evaporation to succeed. While a steamer bowl is attached to the back of the instant pot, a conventional slow cooker would have a glass lid with at least one hole through which steam can escape. In addition, the sealed design excludes the possibility of inserting a probe thermometer, which all traditional slow cookers offer.
Read any number of Reddit articles or threads and you will see that two tips are repeated: adjust the amount of liquid or increase the cooking time. My problem with this approach is that I am not a great improvisational chef at first, and I would prefer not to learn after more than three hours of cooking that my food is broken.
Finally, during my research, I found this tempered glass lid made by Instant Pot itself. The company is not so brazen to recognize that the lid enhances an imperfect slow cooking experience, but of course it recommends the accessories for this purpose, not to mention sautéing, serving and keeping food warm. Although I bought the Duo 60 in 2017, Instant Pot claims that the six-liter lid should match any six-liter Instant Pot model. As an added bonus, it’s dishwasher safe, although I certainly hesitated after at least two Amazon reviewers reported that their washing cycles ended in glass shards. (Mine survived well.)
My first Test of the new setup was my favorite recipe for slow cooker Chili. (As a tip, if you are not yet familiar with slow cooking in the instant pot, treat the “Normal” parameter as equivalent to low and “more” if the recipe requires a high level. As with any slow cooker, the Instant Pot switches to heating mode by default once the cooking time has elapsed.) After four hours of cooking at a low temperature, the chili had the taste I remembered: sweet, spicy and certainly not too soupy. And I was grateful that I didn’t have to reduce the liquid by 15-20%, especially with so many different types of liquids required for this particular recipe. Another day I cooked a vegetable Tartelini soup for five hours.
During the long hours of cooking each recipe, I noticed that more and more condensation was sticking to the bottom of the lid. Although the Instant Pot became quite hot, even at low temperatures, the handle was more lukewarm, which I could grab with my bare hands without burning myself. As a tip: if you want to remove the lid without draining all the condensation into the bowl, turn it in your direction when you remove it instead of lifting it straight up.
Another tip: the lid is also ideal for covering the leftovers in the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Just plug the covered stainless steel bowl into the refrigerator and worry about cleaning it another day.