Honesty is the best policy
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that the Instant Pot is the new must-own kitchen gadget. This appliance is so popular (we even gave one away on our Facebook page), I knew I wanted to try it for myself…even though if I’m honest, I was far from sold on it. I borrowed an Instant Pot from a co-worker for a couple of days and tried a couple of different recipes, but still wasn’t loving it. I started to wonder, am I the only one?
I must give credit where it’s due. The Instant Pot) cooks foods incredibly quickly (I mean, chicken breasts were over-cooked in 6 minutes), and it is great for evenings where you may have forgotten to take something out of the freezer. However, I’m a huge fan of easy clean up and I learned a few things during my experiments:
- If you make something starchy (such as pasta), it’s a bit of a pain to clean the nooks and crannies at the top.
- A recipe might say it only takes 5 minutes to cook, but it doesn’t account for the time it takes for the Instant Pot to heat up. This can range from 10-40 minutes (not ideal if you want something super speedy).
- Milk doesn’t cook easily in the Instant Pot- it gets a funny texture. However, evaporated milk works very nicely!
- I like being able to see what I’m cooking (i.e. a clear lid would be ideal for me), and you can’t take the lid off during cooking.
Give it a second chance…then a third
“You can’t knock it until you try it” is something I stand by, and I often will try it a couple of times before I totally knock it. So, since it’s been a cold (and longer than usual) winter, I figured I’d try a classic mac and cheese recipe. Ooey-gooey, stringy mac and cheese always seems to hit the spot when it’s miserable outside. I thought “this tool can do anything, I’m a good cook, lets wing it!” … well, that far from worked. It took me three attempts (and lots of cheese and pasta) before I found a combination that gave me what I wanted. The first attempt was a massive fail (can you say #failblog?). There was nothing good about it. There was no flavour, despite a large amount of cheese, and the texture was off. I started playing with my recipe, and nothing made it better. I made a second batch with frozen peas and adjusted amounts of cheese and milk, and still something was not right. At this point I was thinking “okay, either the Instant Pot doesn’t work or I’m not as good of a cook as I thought.”
Determined to create something delicious, I decided to give my mac & cheese one last try. I started fresh, and low and behold, it worked! The winning recipe is creamy, flavourful, gooey and stringy- everything you want in a good mac and cheese recipe.
Switch it up
I love recipes that give you a good base, and let you play around with different options later. This is one of those recipes. Try a couple of these variations, or make up your own and share your combination with us!
- Hot sauce- sriracha, franks, tobasco- pick your poison
- Mushrooms- use the sauté function on your Instant Pot to cook up some mushrooms before turning it on for the pasta
- Tomato paste- looking for a creamy mac and cheese? Mix in about 1 tbsp (15 ml)
- Tuna- drain and rinse two cans of tuna to get a creamy tuna casserole
- Frozen veggies- peas and carrots make a great addition to mac and cheese if you’re trying to incorporate more veggies in your diet
- Try different cheese combinations- like it a little spicy? Try a tex-mex blend. Like a little Italian flare? Try and Italiano blend.
After many failed attempts, I’ve learned one thing. The Instant Pot takes some getting used to, and it might take some trial and error before you fall in love with it, but the potential is there. I’m still not totally sold on owning another kitchen gadget, but I don’t have kids, nor a busy hockey/soccer/school play schedule to work around, so I might not be the best person to ask.
I learned one thing for sure, though. If at first you don’t succeed; try, try again.
If you own an Instant Pot and love it, please share your favourite recipes in the comments!