The Instant Pot has taken the home cooking world by storm, but can it cook faster than a crock pot or another pot in the kitchen? High-pressure cookers have been around for ages, and many manufacturers claim that their pressure cookers can cook food up to 70% faster. This multi-function pressure cooker promises to prepare a meal in half the time it takes to use crock pots and other kitchen appliances.
Will it speed up cooking times?
So an example might be the following: If your recipe requires a cooking time of 45 minutes, it will take only 20 minutes in an Instant Pot. This is just a guideline and shouldn’t be taking completely to heart but an Instant Pot will cook quicker.
One real life example could be Coq au Vin. This lovely French classic can take hours to cook normally. The dish calls for the meat to be incredibly soft and tender and takes a lot of cooking to get there. Normally you would expect at least a couple of hours. An Instant Pot can cook this dish in an hour with meat so soft it would cut with the edge of a fork or spoon.
How do they work?
Instant Pots and pressure cookers use high pressure and high temperature steam to cook. Because of the pressure they cook much quicker than traditional ovens.
Firstly the ingredients are put into the cooker along with any liquid. This may be water or broth but there has to be liquid. The cooker is then sealed and the temperature rises. Once it reaches a certain temperature the pressure will increase and then the cooking starts. The steam building up in the cooker then heats the food and cooks it leaving it moist and tender.
How can these cookers speed things up so much?
You know how they work but that doesn’t really explain why they cook so quickly. Well the simple way to explain it is if you were cooking in a normal kitchen then you would see steam leaving your boiling pan at around 212 degrees. In a pressure cooker though the steam cannot leave and so the temperature continues to rise as the pressure builds. The temperature rises far beyond boiling point and thus cooks the food quicker.
Why doesn’t food dry out?
When you cook meat on a BBQ, roast it or put it under the grill the high temperature will dry it out and great care needs to be taken to make sure the meat comes out tender. This is why BBQ pitmasters are revered so much for their skill with meat. An Instant Pot or pressure cooker will never dry out though because it uses steam to cook and the moisture is retained by the meat. This is ideal for tough cuts of meat that normally require long cooking times like brisket. In times like now finding cheaper ways to eat is becoming more important and being able to use less expensive cuts can help. The big bonus is these are often the most tasty.
Conversely other expensive cuts such as wagyu steak wouldn’t benefit from being cooked in an Instant Pot as the cattle are bred to produce such tender meat that it needs a very short cooking time. For other cooking ideas Corrie Cooks has many available.
Slow cooked recipes
Two ways a pressure cooker can help you with long cooked recipes are the following.
They are ideal for speeding up meals that the family and you love but take time. So meals such as the aforementioned Coq au Vin, pork belly and tricky ones like Beef Wellington can be managed. Whole roast chicken can also be done in the cooker. Like microwaves before them, some people are put off cooking meat in the Instant Pot because they like the skin golden and crispy. By using the pressure to cook and your broiler to finish the outside you will have a fast cooked roast chicken that is not dry but has that lovely crispy skin too.
Alternatively try and cook slower. The other way to cook in an Instant Pot is to slow everything down. If you think this is the opposite of why you bought one then consider this; you are coming in at 6pm on a winter’s evening and really want something hot, nutritious and satisfying like a stew or a soup. Even in the Instant Pot that will take some time and you want it now. If you prepared the ingredients beforehand and put them in the cooker then you could present the time to cook slowly and have that meal ready for when you walk in the door.
With quick cooking and some planning you can save lots of time with a pressure cooker.