Two-and-a-half years ago, my mother-in-law surprised me with an Instant Pot as a birthday gift. This was long before the multi-cooker gadget went viral and broke the Internet. In fact, at the time, the only other person I knew who owned one of the slow-cooker-plus-pressure-cooker-plus-rice-cooker-all-in-ones was my sister-in-law (who had suggested the gift). As a working mother of two, she praised the pot’s ability to cook a whole chicken to fall-apart tenderness in 30 minutes and the way it rendered dried beans extra creamy. I was intrigued.
But there was a problem: In that archaic, pre-Instant-Pot-craze era, finding reliable recipes tailored to the gadget’s quirks was tricky. The instructional booklet that came with the Instant Pot was vague, and I quickly discovered that recipes written for regular pressure cookers didn’t always work out. (Ahem, there was an attempt at hard-boiled eggs that resulted in a mini-explosion of overcooked yolks and whites.)
But despite my initial trouble navigating the Instant Pot’s overwhelming number of buttons and finicky silicon-sealed gasket, I quickly fell for the gadget. I could make thick green chile studded with tender chunks of pork shoulder in about an hour. Rice emerged fluffy and perfect every time. It turned out the creamiest, silkiest cheesecake I had ever tasted (despite the fact that the filling had ever-so-subtle hints of the aforementioned green chile, since I had failed to clean the top of the pot as rigorously as necessary—lesson learned).
Fast-forward to 2018, and the web is awash with Instant Potheads, er, devotees, singing its praises and filling their blogs and cookbooks with newly minted multi-cooker recipes. Of course, with the proliferation of recipes comes another problem: Not all of them work, and not all of them are good. That’s especially true when it comes to cooking larger pieces of meat (such as roasts and whole chickens), something the Instant Pot isn’t terribly adept at thanks to its somewhat limited heat output.
Enter Whole Foods’ new Instant Pot recipes (and accompanying instructional videos), which were developed as part of a pilot program for the Rocky Mountain Region. “Based on the initial sales of the Instant Pot over the holiday, this was the next trending gadget,” says David Redick, a marketing coordinator for Whole Foods. “We wanted to create inspiration for our customers.”
I gave a few of the recipes a test run and was happy with the results. The “Paleo Pot Roast,” a recipe from Denver-based blogger PaleOMG, was savory and delicious thanks to the addition of lots of Colorado-grown Osage Gardens herbs. (Full disclosure: I couldn’t help but add a healthy splash of questionably-Paleo Cognac along with the canned tomatoes and beef broth.) It took me about two hours, including time to sear each side of the beef, to coax the four-pound chuck roast to tenderness—a task that would normally take at least double that time in an oven. I was hesitant to cook large cuts of beef in the Instant Pot before, but now it’s my go-to method.
If you received a Instant Pot over the holidays and are still sussing out its many uses, I recommend checking out Whole Foods’ website for its Easter and Passover recipes, which launched yesterday. The former involves using the Instant Pot to reheat a pre-cooked spiral ham—something I wouldn’t have thought of—which, according to Redick, keeps the ham more moist than the traditional oven-warming method. For Passover, Whole Foods will show you how to braise beef brisket in red wine in just 50 minutes, a massive shortcut. That’s a delicious reason to celebrate, if you ask me.