I was born in Fresno and grew up here, as did my husband and my parents. I'm thrilled to be raising my young son here too! I've gone away for school and spent brief periods in other parts of California, but have always ended up homesick for my hometown.
Latest posts by Jenna Ardaiz-Brown (see all)
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Show of hands: Who got an Instant Pot for Christmas?
(For those of you who aren’t raising your hands right now, this is not a reference to the fact that California just passed Prop. 64.)
The Instant Pot is a fabulous cooking device that wraps up a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, and in some cases, yogurt maker, into one compact and lovable package. It can even function as an extra burner for your stove if you use the sauté button.
I too am an Instant Pot “giftee,” albeit last year (thanks, mum!). And even though it was something that I asked for and really wanted, it took me a few months to get brave enough to use it.
Once I got the hang of it, I was kind of mad at myself for being so intimidated. This thing is a major game-changer in the kitchen, and while I don’t make cheesecakes in it or anything (there are people who do), the ability to make beef stew, bone broth, and other long-simmering favorites in less than a quarter of the typical time is something that never fails to amaze me. Kitchen magic.
Egg-cited to Try Out the Instant Pot
In the interest of science, I pulled out my Instant Pot today, and grabbed a few simple, random online recipes that are ideal for beginners. The opinion of the Internet is that the go-to, out-of-the-box, easy recipe that will get you hooked is steaming hard-boiled eggs.
I had eggs. I had water. I had a hankering for egg salad. It was on like Donkey Kong.
Two dozen eggs went into the Pot. A few beeps later, I started to panic. I’d quite literally put all my eggs in one basket. What if they blew up? What if I was an Instant Pot ignoramus?
As it turns out, they came out beautifully. Not one crack. No weird gray ring or noxious sulfurous stench. And the shells just slipped off like buttah, which never, ever happens for me because patience is not one of my virtues.
They were perfect.
Instant Pot Tips From a Real, Live Chef
For those of you who have an Instant Pot (aka “IP,” which is altogether snappier) that’s been lingering on your counter, or a new one from Santa, or one sitting forlornly in your Amazon cart waiting for you to pull the trigger, you should definitely head down to Whole Foods.
Brigitte is not only a gifted chef, she was kind enough to answer my many questions about how to break in your soon-to-be new favorite appliance.
Brigitte, as a culinary professional, what attracted you to the IP?
Brigitte: “I was recommended the Instant Pot from a chef friend who swore by it. I bought it to use in our business. There’s a short learning curve and it can be intimidating to use, so it sat in the closet for a year before I decided to finally try it. I was completely blown away and wish I’d done it way sooner!”
What’s your favorite dish to make in the IP?
“Right now I’m really into burrito bowls and soups. I’m also obsessed with making broth every week so that I always have some on hand to make soups and stews.”
What’s your recommendation for a beginner just getting used to incorporating their IP into their kitchen rotation?
“The first thing you want to do is break it in. After you use it once, you realize how useful it will be in your kitchen. Don’t let it sit on the shelf collecting dust. You’ll want to try making a soup (as easy as pressing the soup button!), maybe a stew or roast, some chicken stock, and even a pot of rice. It’s easy to find instructions and recipes online for all of this. Start by picking one recipe, make a point to try it, and watch your addiction form.”
In your opinion, what’s the first recipe an IP newbie should try out?
“The first recipe you can try can be as basic as putting 2-3 pounds of pork roast or chicken in your pot, and covering it with your favorite regular or tomatillo salsa, about 2 cups (a full jar.) Press the meat or poultry button and seal the vent, and let it do its thing. Once it’s done, release the pressure valve, cool and shred the meat, and put it back in the salsa. It’s awesome for tacos or burrito bowls, and it’s literally as easy as that.”
Do you have any additional IP classes coming up, or resources you’d recommend?
“I’ll be doing some Whole 30 classes this February at Whole Foods [in Fresno] and some will be featuring the Instant Pot. The next one is February 8.”
My Take on the IP
If you’re still on the fence, here’s my personal assessment of this device: I love that it has a small footprint and takes the place of multiple other appliances. Small kitchen? Bring it on.
It also doesn’t heat up the house like a giant pot bubbling in the stove for hours. (It’s Fresno. SUMMER IS COMING.)
The Instant Pot is a serious time saver for many time-intensive recipes since you can set it and come back in an hour. For people who don’t want to dirty an extra pan, you can brown meat in it, so most recipes are literally one-pot wonders. Less doing of the dishes.
Did I mention, I’m hooked? Try it; you will be, too.