2018-01-18 / Life in Leelanau

Instant Gratification

Instant Pot a ‘game-changer’ for county cooks
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

ARMANDA KRANTZ of Suttons Bay has made breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Instant Pot she got for Christmas. ARMANDA KRANTZ of Suttons Bay has made breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Instant Pot she got for Christmas. There are some times when getting an appliance for Christmas isn’t such a bad thing.

And this year was one of them.

Hundreds of thousands of people found magical pots under the tree Christmas morning. Pots that can do everything from poach eggs to make yogurt — cook a pot roast to bake a cheesecake.

“I was giddy,” said Suttons Bay resident Armanda Krantz.

The Instant Pot, the brainchild of a laid-off Canadian engineer, first hit shelves in 2010 and became a surprise favorite on Amazon Prime Day in 2016, when more than 215,000 were sold. Their popularity continued during the 2017 holiday season. Others are sold under the Homesteader, Fagor and Yedi brand names.

“Unlike a Crock Pot that requires you to do ‘pseudo’ cook ingredients — like browning ground beef for sloppy Joes— you can do it on the sautee setting of the Instant Pot,” Krantz said.

ONE-POT macaroni and cheese took Armanda Krantz just 35 minutes in her Instant Pot last weekend. ONE-POT macaroni and cheese took Armanda Krantz just 35 minutes in her Instant Pot last weekend. Since Christmas she’s broken in her pot making pasta with shrimp; “breakfast for dinner”; steamed salmon steaks and just last weekend making macaroni and cheese in her one-pot set-up.

Versatility is a major selling point for the pot, which through its pressure-cooking function can cut cooking times in half.

Krantz’“breakfast for dinner” featured Portuguese sausage made by her brother John Forton of Suttons Bay Township, and eggs.

“I had perfectly poached eggs in three minutes,” she said.

It also has a slow cook feature and warmer that could eliminate the need for a separate counter-top crock pot. Traditional slow cookers are a convenient kitchen took for busy families. But, you have to think ahead, sometimes the night before, and pull protein from the freezer. That’s not an issue for the Instant Pot.

CHEESECAKE CAN be made in less than half the time using traditional methods in the Instant Pot multi-purpose pressure cooker. CHEESECAKE CAN be made in less than half the time using traditional methods in the Instant Pot multi-purpose pressure cooker. “You don’t have to think about it the night before,” said Ranve Martinson of Suttons Bay, who received her Instant Pot for her birthday in early December. “It’s been a game-changer.”

Martinson remembers the apprehension she felt as a child going down to the church basement for potluck dinner and hearing the angry hissing and rattling of stove-top pressure cookers manned by the ladies of the church.

She’s much more comfortable with her Instant Pot.

“The new cookers are automatic, dumbed down and very quiet,” she said.

Among the tasty treats she’s made with her new kitchen tool are chicken wings, spinach and artichoke dip, lamb lollipops and her own concoctions prepared from leftovers.

“I had a bunch of cauliflower that I’m not usually crazy about; threw in a new chicken broth ice cubes and a couple of potatoes that were ready to sprout,” she explained.

Then she added some orphaned vegetables she found in her fridge; some herbs; mixed it all together with her immersion blender. And Voila!

“It was a hearty vegetable soup that was like a ‘cream of’ soup without the cream,” she said.

Martinson froze the soup she didn’t eat that day and was able to use it later in a different way.

“I had some rotisserie chicken left over, made some pasta and added the soup from the freezer,” she said.

But her magic pot hasn’t just been for easy-on-the-budget cooking. Martinson used her “braise” feature on her new pot to make the lamb lollipops with chicken stock, rosemary and thyme.

“They were to die for. I was so happy. It was right up there with restaurant quality at a fraction of the cost,” she said.

Laurel Evans, executive assistant to county administrator Chet Janik, makes a butternut squash and apple soup that she takes to work for lunch.

Evans also makes a spiced pumpkin oatmeal and a killer key-lime cheesecake in a fraction of the time it would take with a traditional recipe.

“The recipe calls for sour cream, but I like to substitute Greek yogurt because it’s better for you,” she said.

Like the pressure cookers of old, the new gadget could be intimidating to novices.

But there’s plenty of support online to help the newbies get cooking. The Instant Pot has a cult-like following that includes a Facebook group with more than 1.1 million members.

Martinson encourages people to give it a try.

“You don’t have to go back 150 years and slave in the kitchen all day long,” she said. “You can save money buying in bulk, throwing it in the pot and vacuum sealing leftovers to eat later.

“It’s modern and safe. Give it a try.”

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

1 large. butternut squash, cleaned
1/2 lb. (approx. 6 slices) of good quality thick cut bacon, cut into little pieces
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 large. onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. of Merquen chili pepper (or chipotle to taste)

Add 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot, placing the trivet on the bottom. Slice the ends off of the squash, then split it down the middle. Scoop out the seeds. If the squash is too tall, you may have to cut each half again making quarters. Stand the pieces up in the pot, cover, and then set to high-pressure manual for 16 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. You really can’t over cook it. When the cooking cycle is done, you can choose to do either a quick or natural release. Carefully remove the squash pieces using two forks and place on a plate to cool.

Rinse out inner pot well and replace in the cooker. Add bacon and using the saute function, cook the bacon, stirring constantly, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel. Depending on how much bacon grease is left, you can remove some of it if it is excessive. Add chopped onion and Merquen chili flakes, and cook stirring constantly for about 3 minutes until onion is softened. Add apple and broth. Scoop out the squash from the skin and drop into pot. Cover and process on manual high for another 14 minutes.

Either quick or natural release, and then using an immersion blender, break up any remaining chunks of squash. Add the cooked bacon back in and serve.

Optional: swirl in a half cup of dairy (or nondairy) milk to make it a bisque

Contributor Laurel Evans said, “I can’t really attribute this to any one recipe. It’s a modification of several I found online. P.S. The Merquen chili pepper is worth the investment — available online.”

Return to top