I Was An Instant Pot Virgin

I was resistant to getting an Instant Pot at first. Not because I’m afraid of some new-fangled appliance or to learn a few new tricks in the kitchen. We’re just not big fans of braised meats, particularly beef. Stew meat has never made an appearance in this house; we’re all about juicy, rare steaks. As for soups, they are made in a stove-top pot or in the rice cooker (the one that I had come to loathe for burning the bottom layer of rice.) So why did I need an Instant Pot?

The answer is baby back ribs. Lots and lots of ribs. Over the summer, Acme Market kept running that buy-one-get-two-free sale, and with my new little chest freezer in the garage, I found myself stocking up each time. I once asked the meat manager if I could buy six, and he replied, “Ma’am, you can buy nine if you like.” And so I did. I may never get sick of eating them but I sure as heck was getting tired of the low and slow, take all day to cook the damn dinner routine. Shortcuts only led to disappointment, with the meat turning out too dry and chewy. The frustration of my baby back efforts prompted me to put an Instant Pot on my Amazon list and voila, within the week there was a 25% off sale and the 6qt LUX 6-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer was all mine.

The package arrived triple-boxed (thank you Amazon.) I don’t do unboxing videos, so I’ll leave to your imagination wrestling the big box open to find a smaller box, brown paper and air pillows strewn across the floor, opening the second box to reveal the Instant Pot box, and finally heaving the Instant Pot from its Styrofoam clutches. Along with the Pot, I found some plastic spoons and measuring cup, and a round wire-metal thingy. What does this do?

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I cleaned the pot and lid (or so I thought) and started reading the User Manual. Before cooking in your new Instant Pot, it is recommended that you perform a test run using water. As a devout follower of appliance directions, I put three cups of water in the pot and pressure cooked it for a couple of minutes. What a great way to play with the buttons for the first time without ruining your dinner! I notice a bit of an odor; maybe some of the “manufacturing grease” is burning off? Upon opening the pot when the cycle is complete, I notice that the water and the pot are spotty and deduce that I didn’t wash the pot well enough. In the sink it goes for a good scrubbing before placing actual food in it.

While the User Manual provides some information, I still have unanswered questions, like, What’s the round wire-metal thingy used for? YouTube videos are most helpful. I discover that the metal thingy is a trivet for the bottom of the pot that prevents dry food from having contact with the bottom. Place food on the trivet and put at least one cup of water in the pot to prevent the BURN message from appearing. In addition to not burning your food, it’s also important not to burn your hand using the Quick Release knob. I’ll be using my super-duper silicon glove should I be in need of a quick release.

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Just like cooking ribs using conventional tools, there’s a dry method and a wet method. The dry method applies a dry rub to the meat and steams them on the trivet. The wet method cooks them in a sauce. Inspired by Amy + Jacky PressureCookRecipes.com, I’m going with the wet method cooked in an Asian style sauce.

Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup duck sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

As hard as I try to make cooking ribs not  become an all-day project, I find myself preparing the sauce in the morning after breakfast so that the ribs can marinate all day. To fit the ribs in the plastic bag with the marinade, I cut them into sections of two. At least when I get to the pressure cooking step, the time-saving begins to pay off.

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One hour before dinner time, I dump the contents of the plastic bag in the Instant Pot and pick a cook time of twenty minutes which yields mostly fall-off-the-bone meat with bits of chew. We pre-heat the grill or broiler during the pressure release phase.

After pressure cooking, the sauce has penetrated the meat nicely.

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We grill the ribs and baste them with some of the sauce for 15 minutes or until they look most appetizing!

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Note about the sauce: It gets a little greasy with the meat cooking in it. After a night in the refrigerator, I was able to peel off the layer of hard lard and throw it away.

We paired with a 2016 Firestone Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. A bold, Central Coast Cab with sweet berries, cocoa, and oak on the nose. On the palate, cherry, currant, tobacco, and the bitterness of licorice and dark chocolate. Firm, medium-length finish.

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First-time User Tips Summary:

  • Clean the pot and perform the pressure cook water test
  • The metal thingy is a food trivet for inside the pot
  • Always use at least one cup of liquid when pressure cooking
  • Use an oven mitt or towel when touching the Quick Release knob
  • If you haven’t burned yourself, ruined dinner, or broken your new Instant Pot, celebrate with a bottle of wine!

Published by J Reilly

I've been writing the Boozy Lifestyle blog since 2014 and recently expanded upon it to create my new book, Boozy Lifestyle: Elevate The Everyday With Booze As Your Muse. The book is a collection of stories celebrating and inspiring everyday life with entertaining tales of wine, food, booze, travel, and family, and including over 50 food and drink recipes. Visit me on Twitter at J Reilly@Boozy_Lifestyle or BoozyLifestyle.com

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