For anyone who lives under a rock and doesn’t actually know what an instant pot is, it’s essentially 6-8 appliances bundled into one device. Instant Pot boasts that you can sauté, slow cook, make bread and cakes, pressure cook, steam, make yogurt, hard boil eggs, and cook rice with one individual appliance. For many, it’s been dubbed a miracle device that can replace a majority of other appliances taking up shelf space. Pair that with a recent obsession of decluttering throughout the nation and you have a recipe for success. I mean how many bread makers actually bring us joy?
I can’t even count the number of people I know who either got or gave an instant pot as a gift recently. The sheer number is just mind-blowing. On Prime Day this past year Amazon sold upwards of 300,000. That’s enough instant pots sold in one day for the entire city of Saskatoon Canada or about 62% of Kansas City. I don’t really give a shit, so just pick whatever number sounds more impressive to you. Fourth Quarter sales were also staggering with multiple online and retail stores selling out of the popular kitchen appliance.
But do you know what’s even more astonishing? The lack of chef’s currently using Instant Pots according to a Bloomberg article published in the last year. One major reason cited was the principles of size and yield. For many commercial kitchens, 8 quarts is just not adequate for a commercial scale. But at what point does size matter? To me, even 6 sounds like the perfect portion size. Some people would even say 6 is better than 8 because at what point does that paint an unrealistic serving size standard. This is real life, not a
Jokes aside though, is the instant pot really all it’s cracked up to be? Is there a reason why you don’t see this appliance in restaurant kitchens nationwide? To me, from a convenience standpoint, it’s great. I can pressure cook fifty wings in ten minutes. With just another ten minutes of saucing and broiling, I can have a single serving snack in less time than an order from Grub Hub. I can even use the chicken stock rendered from the wings later to make rice.
However, from a culinary view, I still find the device lacking. A few people I know have told me they’ve found the rice they’ve made “too mushy”. Although, that may be due more to user error than the functionality of the instant pot. But, after using the Instant Pot the other night I found myself desiring some of the extra flavors the Instant Pot lacks by itself. The notes of caramelization from a sweet glaze evenly crusted from a long bake in the oven, the char you’d taste on a perfectly seared piece of chicken off of a hot grill, and the smoky flavor you can only get from slow cooking something over a burnt piece of cherry wood for a few hours. Those subtle extra flavors that take a dish from Monday night meal prep to something more.
You’re not going to see any Instant Pots winning a James Beard award or helping competitors beat any Iron Chefs on Food Network. In a world today where we all crave instant gratification, do we sacrifice quality for the sake of convenience? Maybe that’s just the way it is now. Shit plates in a short amount of time for the sake of ease, but in the words of Gordon Ramsay, “You’re a fucking disgrace.”
Now go on ahead and do what no Instant Pot can do…