How to revolutionise your cooking routine

June 27, 2024
4 mins read


Instant Pot Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid


PAT PILCHER was scared stiff of pressure cookers before he came across a cooker that has revolutionised his cooking routine with sensational tasting dishes.

It’s no secret that I love cooking and eating food. Learning about a new dish and the techniques needed to cook it is a hell of a lot of fun and incredibly satisfying when I get it right. The only thing I don’t particularly like about cooking is the pile of dishes to wash at the end.

At least, that was until I got my hands on the Instant Pot Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid (what a mouthful!), a cooking gadget that reduces dishes, simplifies cooking and enhances flavours.

The Instant Pot is a kind of multi-cooker. While a lot of the attention it gets centres around its air-frying capabilities, there’s a total of 13 cooking functions spanning steaming, rice cooking, roasting, pressure cooking, dough-proofing, yoghurt making and many more. With a 6.5-litre capacity, cranking out food for a crowd (or batch cooking) is easy too.

Much of the Instant Pot’s magic comes down to its inner lid insert, which can be removed and replaced depending on which cooking function you’re using. This is a definite step up from earlier models, which required the entire lid to be swapped out depending on how you were cooking. Finding space to store extra lids is no longer a problem with Instant Pot Duo.

If you’ve never tried pressure cooking (and, let’s face it, horror stories of pressure cookers exploding are pretty off-putting), the good news is that the Instant Pot Duo makes it both effortless and safe. Pressure cooking uses a combination of pressure, heat, and liquid to cook food incredibly quickly. The other lesser-known benefit of pressure cooking is that it also does a wonderful job of concentrating flavours.

While the thought of pressure cooking used to give me hives, the Instant Pot has made it a regular part of my meal routine. This comes down to its sheer ease of use. There are three different automated steam release options, all selectable via the front control panel. A user-friendly display tells you exactly what’s happening and, most importantly, when it’s safe to open the lid, allowing you to avoid any involuntary explosive scalding hot Jackson Pollock-style kitchen redecoration attempts. Further adding to the ease of pressure cooking is a bunch of sensors that automatically detect when the lid isn’t locked or when the lid insert needs removing. Everything is highlighted using easy-to-read alerts on the Instant Pot’s built-in display screen.

I’d heard Indian food is amazing when made in a pressure cooker, so one of the first dishes I tried was chicken biryani, an aromatic and flavoursome rice dish from Persia/India. My previous attempts at biryani dishes were never all that successful, being either bland or stodgy, and usually both. With the Instant Pot (and this recipe), I got a beautifully rich and light biryani that took under 30 minutes to cook and has since become a regular part of my kitchen repertoire.

Cleaning up afterwards was also effortless. While several pots and pans are typical with biryani, the Instant Pot cooks everything in just one stainless steel internal pot, greatly reducing the number of dishes to deal with after dinner. In addition to the pot, the Instant Pot Duo also comes with a trivet and air frying basket.

From a design perspective, the Instant Pot Duo’s black design makes it look like the sort of kitchen gadget Darth Vader would have prominently displayed at his crib. The hinged lid on the top has a lock lever, which has to be moved into the locked position for any cooking (the screen tells you if you need to lock or unlock the lid). As the Instant Pot can pressure cook, I was surprised to see no steam release controls on its lid. It turns out that the steam release is fully automated. Select one of three Steam release options, and you’re good to go.

There are 13 cooking functions in total, each with its own button on the front control panel. Cooking is usually a simple matter of selecting the cooking mode. Time and temperatures can be tweaked using the small dial in the middle of the control panel. While the 13 cook mode buttons give the Instant Pot a crowded look, they turned out to be super-intuitive.

The first thing I decided to try cooking was some bread, which a small amount of research online revealed as one of the more challenging items to attempt to cook in an Instant Pot. After using my Thermomix to knead the dough, I placed it in the inner pot and selected Proofing mode. As you get exact temperatures over a preset time, rising the dough was super quick, and within 45 minutes, I had a super light, airy dough. Switching to air fryer mode, I baked the bread, resulting in a crunchy/crispy crust while the bread itself was super-light and fluffy.

Another experiment was making a chicken curry using this recipe. Cooking a decent curry in the past required long and slow cooks to ensure rich flavours. With the Instant Pot Duo, I spent more time cutting and preparing ingredients than I did cooking. I was rewarded with a rich, warming curry that knocked spots off anything I’d eat at an Indian restaurant.

Another cooking mode that caught my eye was the dehydrator. After slicing some apples and brushing them with lemon juice to prevent discolouration, I placed the slices on the included trivet and fired up the dehydrator mode. Thirty minutes later, I had perfectly dehydrated apple pieces that cost a fraction of what I’d normally pay at the supermarket.

Finding recipes to try proved to be an effortless undertaking. Instant Pot has a massive base of online recipes. While the quality of online recipes varies hugely, I also installed the instant Pot Connect app (iOS/Android), which has thousands of searchable recipes, almost all of which are rated by the huge online community of Instant Pot users.

Earning the Instant Pot further brownie points is the sheer ease with which everything can be cleaned. All the removable parts, such as stainless-steel pot, and trivet are dishwasher safe, and the front control panel can easily be wiped clean. While the stainless-steel internal pot isn’t non-stick, leaving it to soak and cleaning it by hand is effortless. The only other cleaning consideration is the evaporator cup around the back of the Instant Pot, which collects condensation. It’s easily removed and is also dishwasher safe.

If cooking tasty food is becoming a real grind and you’re looking for a way of simplifying meals while crafting delicious food, an Instant Pot is probably exactly what you need. After spending two weeks with it, I can safely say, hand on heart, that it has totally revolutionised the way I cook.

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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