A brand new member of the instant pot community. HELP
July 14, 2021 5:19 PM   Subscribe

My parents got me a 10 quart instant pot duo nova for my birthday and I'm lost. So lost.

I'm an advanced cook. We're a lacto-ovo vegetarian household (I am, and my husband mostly eats that way, but I happily cook meats for others and batch cook/freeze poultry for my toddlers). I asked for the IP duo nova to replace a crock pot AND take advantage of its other features but omg natural release, valves, water test "5-5-5", etc.....
Someone send me to a duo nova for dummies? And recipes, helpful blogs? It's making me feel very very dumb!
posted by atomicstone to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
If you just search on Amazon you should find a ton of instant pot recipe books, some of which are free. However, many are only free under Kindle Unlimited.
posted by kschang at 5:34 PM on July 14, 2021

I was team Old School Pressure Cooker for ages.
Now? Rice. Start with rice in the instant pot.
posted by msamye at 5:49 PM on July 14, 2021

Best answer: I wrote a book on it. MeMail me your address if you’d like one; I’ll get a copy to you.
posted by veggieboy at 5:53 PM on July 14, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: This beginners guide is good and full of pictures. Plus there are a bunch of recipes at the bottom of the post!

The release valve was the scariest bit of learning to use the Instand Pot for me, so I got a steam redirector from Steammates (the dragon one). It's easy to avoid putting my hands in front of the dragon's mouth and, since it shoots the steam sideways, it means the steam isn't venting directly at the underside of my cabinets.
posted by burntflowers at 5:53 PM on July 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Youtube is your friend for learning your way around the equipment and how to clean/care/handle it. Getting started will walk you through the parts and points out some features of the Nova that are a little different from most of the IP models, most particularly the steam release mechanism. The Nova has a button you push to release the pressure/steam valve instead of flipping the actual release mechanism from "venting" to "sealing" and back.

The manufacturer also has very short to the point videos about all the features and functions.

The one thing their channel didn't do a great job explaining, if you're planning to slow cook, is the button options for slow cook settings, it's one of the more confusing processes.

Natural Release means to leave the pot sealed until it cools enough that the pressure naturally dissipates. Quick Release means to turn the vent - or in your case push the release button - to manually release the pressure.

Also any question you have will be well-covered by google, including 5-5-5 and water test.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:08 PM on July 14, 2021

Say you want to make a soup. You can saute and then add the rest of your ingredients and pressure cook, all in one pot!!!

We have two same-size pots and three sleeves, the instapot has almost entirely replaced the stovetop.
posted by aniola at 6:12 PM on July 14, 2021

If you have access to cheap or free expiring or expired milk, it's super-easy to make yogurt.
posted by aniola at 6:13 PM on July 14, 2021

Highly recommend veggieboy's book! We have a copy and use it all the time :)

The title is How To Instant Pot.
posted by tinydancer at 6:32 PM on July 14, 2021 [7 favorites]

Another +1 for How to Instant Pot!
posted by emelenjr at 7:42 PM on July 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Our most instant-potted things: (from dried) beans of any sort, whole skin-on potatoes, sweet potatoes, and hard-cooked eggs. The beauty of instapotting potatoes is that they'll keep themselves warm until the rest of dinner is ready, so it's one less thing you have to keep track of the timing on.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 8:55 PM on July 14, 2021

Our most insta-potted thing is dal in the main pot and a grain in a bowl sitting on the dal, using the outline from Indian-ish. Just enough time while it cooks to prep a green salad, or veg that will cook in the dal; or it looks after itself until we get around to eating it.
posted by clew at 9:28 PM on July 14, 2021

Not sure where you are, but in the U.K. I’ve found the “Instant Pot U.K. Community” invaluable. I’d recommend joining that or a similar group in the county you are in.
posted by ozgirlabroad at 11:48 PM on July 14, 2021

Best answer: Some rules of thumb for electric pressure cookers:

You will nearly always need at least a cup of water, even if that seems like too much liquid for the dish – this is because you need the steam to do the cooking work, and things are going to stick if there isn't enough liquid. Many Instant Pot recipes are crafted so that becomes the perfect amount for the ingredients included, and some dishes advise using the sauté function to cook it down a bit further after pressure cooking. This is done with the lid off / open and it's just cooking, like on a stovetop. Some recipes have you add a cornstarch slurry after pressure cooking, to thicken the dish. For bean dishes (especially red beans and rice) where I want a certain thicker consistency, I pressure cook for a long time so that the beans break down a lot more and thicken the pot.(Also, when using canned, def include the canned bean juice if you want body.) A few recipes for dishes that feature vegetables with a very high water content will call for less than a cup of water.

Re sauté function: A handy tip for stews, and similar thicker-bodied soup-like dishes, is to flour your meat before browning. I mix up flour with spices (usually salt, pepper, maybe smoked paprika, and garlic powder) dredge the meat or chicken, then brown, and the flour coating will create a nicely thick consistency for the dish.

The pressure cooker does not start timing until the steam has created the proper amount of pressure. This seems self-evident, and trivial to mention, but it actually means something rather nice and interesting: if the item you are cooking is dense, it usually doesn't matter whether you use fresh or frozen ... no need to change the timing. It just means that if the item is frozen, it will take the pot longer to get up to pressure. But you still set the timer to your recipe's cook time. Or maybe add a couple of minutes for denser items like meat just to be sure. But this is helpful so you don't have to do a lot of guessing and calculating to figure out how to convert a recipe to use frozen ingredients. It also means that if you forgot to thaw the chicken, no problem! Just carry on with the frozen stuff and don't worry.

Almost no liquid is lost in pressure cooking. This means that you don't put a lot of extra water for more ingredients or to make up for what would normally cook away. This is also very handy when cooking something simple, like veggies, that you might have with rice or quinoa, etc. You can pressure cook your ingredients with the amount of water you will need to cook your grain, and then use that nicely enriched-flavor water left when your veggies are removed, and you don't even need to measure again.

If you want to convert a regular stovetop recipe to Instant Pot, the usual timing is about a third of the stovetop time. So if you are simmering a stew for two hours on stovetop, you'd pressure cook for 40 minutes. You will want to adjust the liquid to be about what you want the final version to have. For me, making just about any soup means I add 6 or 7 cups of water; that just pretty much always turns out to be the amount of liquid that creates the consistency of soup of we like.

Don't use dairy or cheese under pressure. Always add cream, cheese, etc., at the end, after the pressure cooking part is done. If you need to cook the cream down a bit, you can use the sauté function to do that, but usually I end up using less cream than in the stovetop version, and it's still lovely and tasty.

Pressure cooking intensifies flavors. This, ultimately, is why the Instant Pot is so wildly popular: convenience, time-saving, plus even better flavor! Nice. But this also means that you will want to maybe dial back on some of the seasoning (like, usually, less salt) when converting or making up your own recipe.

You actually don't need to stir / mix all the ingredients together. Maybe sometimes, but generally it is not required at all. The reason why this is an important tip is not because it's onerous to stir your ingredients, but because electric pressure cookers have a problem when they sense there is not enough liquid in the pot, and will give some sort of "Burn" warning / error. Some pots are more sensitive than others, and this burn warning becomes a bit of a problem. To avoid this if it turns out your Instant Pot is a sensitive soul, you can put all your wet ingredients on the bottom, then veggies (bc they have water content), and then put your meat, or whatever, on top of all that, and avoid the Burn! Some Instant Pot recipes will be very, very specific about how to layer the ingredients, and this is usually why.

hmmm, what else?

As mentioned, sauté function is just like cooking on a stovetop. You do this without the lid locked (I don't use the lid down at all when using sauté), and the purpose is to brown meat and sauté onions and other veg, so that you don't need to dirty another pan, or to provide a bit of post pressure-cooking ongoing heat to mix in your thickener (like corn starch), or cheese, or dairy. But also just for any reason you might want to heat up, simmer, or boil the already pressure-cooked ingredients of the pot.

Not great for cooking pasta. I LOVE that the pressure cooker makes cooking rice and other grains super easy — especially polenta! omg, what a dream! — but pasta is almost always better prepared on the stove because it's hard to judge how much time is needed, between the amount of time the pot takes to come up to pressure (the ingredients are already beginning to cook while this is happening), to how much time it takes to vent the steam before opening ... and pasta is not very forgiving of fuzzy timing. Some recipes do include pasta in their recipes, but unless it's a soup or something where I fully expect the pasta to be mushy because it's swimming in broth, sauce goes in the p-cooker, pasta goes on the stove.

A corollary to "almost no liquid is lost in pressure cooking" is that this means alcohol does not cook down much, if at all, so if you are adding wine, brandy, etc., you might want to cook it down a bit pre- or post- pressure cooking. I've found that smaller amounts don't seem to matter much, but over a quarter or maybe a third of a cup, it's usually best to cook it down. Your recipes for pressure cookers will almost always account for this, but if you are converting, it's good to keep in mind.

Layering / building flavor: this is probably a concept that you are already familiar with when cooking conventionally, and it is no less true with the instant pot. Even though the beauty of the IP is it's convenience and speed, it's always worth it to take just a few more minutes to add those fillips that build layers of flavor and create some complexity ... browning the meat, sautéing the veg, deglazing, added umami, and so on. I think that some instant pot meals can seem jejune and taste-alike when they are too simple. A very good site for learning a lot of techniques for this with instant pot is pressurecookrecipes.com. Their (very many!) recipes are great and they are painstaking at explaining everything, with photos and all sorts of info to help you understand why you are doing a certain thing. I always recommend them in every IP thread!

Important! You will adapt much quicker and more thoroughly than you expect! I say this because you say you are an experienced cook, so if you already are used to thinking about the preparation of food, and how various aspects go together to create certain results, honestly, this will soon become a thing that you can do mostly without exercising any extra brain cells at all. Like you know what your stove does, and what your oven does, and what your microwave does, and how to put together ingredients differently for certain types of dishes, when to use a certain type of pot or pan versus another for the outcome you want — same stuff! Same, same! You will marvel at your future facility with this! :)

Good luck with everything! There is so, so, so much information and So. Many. Recipes. out there, it's a wondrous bounty of choice. We use our electric pressure cooker nearly every single day, for something, if not for the whole meal. It is literally our most-used appliance, save the electric kettle.

Oh, and 5-5-5, the way I know it, is for hard-boiling eggs. Add one cup of water and a trivet. Your eggs on the trivet. Close and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes, then let it release naturally for 5 minutes, then remove eggs to ice water bath for at least 5 minutes. Perfect, easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs!

I don't know what "water test" is about. ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

Have fun, atomicstone!
posted by taz at 3:11 AM on July 15, 2021 [14 favorites]

Honestly, the only thing I've ever used the Instant Pot for is to cook beans and make really rich ramen broth. It is ideal for those purposes - beans are done in a fraction of the time and come out perfectly, and as for soup stock or ramen broth, I've never felt comfortable leaving something simmering away on the stove for the full 36 hours some super-rich stocks call for; with an Instant Pot I'm still leaving things in there for a good while, but it is a self-contained thingy that I don't have to nurse and check the liquid levels or adjust the flame on or anything like that, it just sits on my counter and does its thing. It also takes only about 10 hours instead of 36.

Another good thing about the Instant Pot is that you can saute aromatics right there in the pot before you add the beans if you're making a bean dish; like, you use the "saute" function to saute the chopped onions and garlic or whatever, then turn that off, leave the onions in there, then dump in the beans and the water or broth and switch to the pressure-cook function and away you go, just like if you were making a bean dish on the stove.

I've heard some cooks say that the "slow cooker" function on the Instant Pot doesn't really work as well as an actual slow cooker, and I have one of each item which I received as gifts and so I just use an actual slow cooker when I need it. I've never tried the yogurt-making function on mine because I just plain don't eat that much yogurt. But when I was on the verge of returning my instant pot, I decided to try it first and it did black beans perfectly with a fraction of my usual effort and I was sold.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on July 15, 2021

Oh, and there is a woman who has created a recipe-sharing private group on Facebook devoted to Instant Pot-able recipes for people with the "Mini" version of the Instant Pot. But it's more like she's curating other recipes from food blogs; there are SCORES of "Instant Pot recipes" out in the wild, and she is just pre-screening them to see if they can be successfully halved to fit the Mini size. So her group is more like "I have confirmed you can halve this existing recipe and it still works." It may be worth checking it out for the full-size recipes if that's what you got. She also works with all manner of diets, courses, and what-not in groups - like one week it'll be all desserts, another week it'll be "it's 4th of July" type of things. The most recent crop is all vegetable recipes, and here's one she just posted a link to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on July 15, 2021

One of my favorite things to make in the IP is risotto and I think it's a great, simple recipe to use as a primer for how to use the IP. Bonus: very little stirring! I use this recipe as the template. In general, that site is great for all kinds of pressure cooker tips and recipes.
posted by lunasol at 5:38 PM on July 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow! Thanks to all! I did the water test set up and made some jammy hardboiled eggs as my first go. And veggieboy's lovely gift of How To Instant Pot is really exciting and beautiful. So I bought one for my mother and mother-in-law. Yay, metafilter!
posted by atomicstone at 12:17 PM on July 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

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