The latest viral sensation is the Instant Pot, billed as a seven-in-one appliance for the kitchen. On Black Friday, it was one of the top five purchases on Amazon and the top three at Kohl's. (Special to the Press)

Instant Pot is a sensation

As consumers turn more and more to the Internet to research and discover new products, one of the viral sensations of 2017 — and a popular Christmas gift — is the Instant Pot®, a multi-functional electric pressure cooker that seems to live up to its hype.

Billed as “changing the way we eat” and seven tools in one, it bills itself as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pot, steamer, warming pot and yogurt maker. It’s also relatively affordable. The six-quart Instant Pot currently sells of $99 on Amazon, Walmart and several other web sites.

In our busy lives, families are looking for ways to eat healthy and avoid a trip through the local fast food restaurant for dinner. According to a recent story in the New York Times, the Instant Pot has “inspired a legion of passionate foodies and home cooks. These devotees — they call themselves “Potheads” — use their Instant Pots for virtually every kitchen task imaginable: sautéing, pressure-cooking, steaming, even making yogurt and cheesecakes. Then, they evangelize on the Internet, using social media to sing the gadget’s praises to the unconverted.”

The Instant Pot is hardly the fanciest appliance on the market but it has upended the home-cooking industry. During Black Friday sales, the Instant Pot was among the top five items sold by Amazon and Target and among top three best sellers at Kohl’s.

Instant Pot is the brainchild of Robert Wang, the chief executive of the Canadian company Double Insight — a homegrown start-up hardware business with about 50 employees, spent almost nothing on advertising and achieved its success primarily by word-of-mouth.

As interesting as the story of the creation of Instant Pot is, the real question is what can it do for me?

Like any pressure cooker or slow cooker, the Instant Pot offers set-it-and-forget-it cooking. Its fans say it cooks food way faster than a slow cooker and its high-temperature cooking produces lots of flavor. Pressure cooking makes meat really tender. It’s good for foods you want soft and succulent — but you want them fast. Think ribs, chicken, pork, lamb, chili, risotto, soup, stews, beans and hard-boiled eggs.

And while the Instant Pot has a sauté feature to sear meat on the bottom of the appliance’s stainless steel pot, don’t expect good color. For better browning — if that’s important to you — sear the meat on the stove then transfer it to the Instant Pot for a fast braise.

One of the great things about the Instant Pot are the literally millions of Instant Pot recipes available on the Internet. Because social media is driving the Instant Pot’s popularity. There are also several cookbooks, including the top cookbook on Amazon, “Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Cookbook: 550 recipes for Everyone,” by Jessica Taylor. There is even a Weight Watchers Instant Pot cookbook and a ketogenic and paleo-friendly cookbook.

I’m sharing recipes that friends have tried and enjoyed. It’s time to take the Instant Pot out of the box and get cooking.

The Prairie Press

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