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Help Me Hank puts popular Instant Pot Pressure Cooker to the test

Hank Winchester tests one of most-sold products this year

The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker was one of the most-sold products this year during Amazon Prime Day and Cyber Monday. (WDIV)
The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker was one of the most-sold products this year during Amazon Prime Day and Cyber Monday. (WDIV)

DETROIT – The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker was one of the most-sold products this year during Amazon Prime Day and Cyber Monday.

And the pressure cookers seem to be flying off store shelves as well. We went to seven stores, trying to find just one.

The Instant Pot claims to be a smart, multiuse, programmable pressure cooker that’s not only convenient, but dependable and safe.

Help Me Hank put the Instant Pot to the test, to see if it’s really worth the hype.

We bought the 6-quart stainless steel version for $120. You can get smaller versions for less money. And right now, there are great deals online for the same Instant Pot we bought.

Hank Winchester may be a well-established consumer investigator, but he’s no chef.
As a man who has never cooked a day in his life and is always on the go, we figured he would be the perfect person to test this product.

What we found: The positives

The product lives up to the hype.

Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 multi-cooker that works as an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, warmer and saute pan all in one. So, automatically, if you have just this, you’re taking up less space in your kitchen.

It also has “smart” capabilities, so you can customize cooking programs and set any program yourself.

Hank started off by using the saute and pressure cooker functions. He set the saute function to normal, which seemed similar to a medium to medium-high flame on the stovetop, to cook onions and garlic inside the pot.

Then he stopped cooking, added the remainder of the ingredients, closed the lid and used the electric pressure cooker to finish the process.

Because we weren't sure about the settings, it added some extra time to our cooking.
But even with the cooking and setting mistakes, it only took about 20 minutes for the meal to be cooked.

Without cutting up the chicken and the vegetables, both were cooked perfectly.

And the best part: The food was delicious.

What we found: The negatives

If you’ve never used a pressure cooker, the settings can be a bit confusing -- almost overwhelming.
The simple remedy for that would be to really sit with the manual and get to know the settings.

Also, the steam is extremely hot, so be careful when dealing with it.

The recipe

Since one of the main selling points of the Instant Pot is that it cooks healthy meals, we chose our recipe from “Super Healthy Kids.”

Here is the recipe we made. You can also find it here.

Instant Pot Chicken and Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups carrots, baby
  • 2 cups mushrooms -- brown, Italian or crimini
  • 2 cups brown rice, raw
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thigh

NOTE: chicken breasts also work well, just make sure to cut them in half so they're not too thick.

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces condensed, canned cream of chicken soup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Directions

  • Push saute button on Instant Pot. While it heats, dice onion, mince garlic and chop veggies. Rinse and drain rice.
  • When pot says "HOT," add oil to pot and saute onions for 3 minutes. Then press "cancel" to turn the saute setting off.
  • Mix veggies, garlic, rice and broth into the pot. Place chicken on top, add salt and pepper and then cover with cream of chicken soup and Worcestershire sauce. Place 8-10 small sprigs of thyme on top.
  • Seal the Instant Pot, close the vent and press "manual."
    1. After 10 seconds, the pot should register that it has begun the pressurizing process. Use the "pressure" button to toggle to "high pressure" and then set the time for 31 minutes. Or, set it for 26 minutes. It works better to keep veggies a little firmer -- and it's quicker.
  • Once the pot is done cooking, either let it sit for 15-20 minutes to naturally release pressure, or carefully open the vent for about 2 minutes. Once pressure has released completely -- when the pin drops -- the pot is safe to open.
  • Remove thyme sprigs, keeping leaves when possible. Stir contents of pot to shred chicken and mix in any extra liquid. Serve warm.
  • Another site we like is A Pinch of Healthy, which has more recipes that are healthy and fast.

    To make life even easier, the site has a tab at the top that says "Recipes." When you glide your mouse over it, you'll find it has a whole section dedicated to Instant Pot recipes.

    It also has its own version of the chicken and rice recipe, with fewer ingredients. You can find that recipe here.

    The recipe we made Thursday during our 5 p.m. newscast, was one from Pinch of Yum.
    You can find that recipe here.

    Life-changing Instant Pot beef stew

    Ingredients

    • 2 lbs beef, chuck roast, fat trimmed, cut into 1-2-inch chunks
    • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
    • 2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally in thick pieces
    • 6 carrots, sliced diagonally in thick pieces
    • 2 tablespoons tapioca (the little round balls – they dissolve and thicken the gravy)
    • 1/2 cup tomato juice
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon sugar

    Instructions

    Place everything in the Instant Pot and select the stew/meat setting (about 35 minutes). After it’s done, let everything mellow out for about 10 minutes before releasing the steam.


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