I have to admit something.
As I’m writing this, I just finished an ad-lib recipe in my own Instant Pot and I was devilishly careless. Working loosely from recipes for steak au poivre and beef stew, I paid far less attention to the things I normally do, like measurements and cooking times. I added a dash where a dollop was called for and stirred when I was supposed to whisk. I was bad, you guys. Really bad.
These all may sound like criminal offenses to the serious at-home or professional chef but I’m not to blame, I swear. These are side effects, sweet liberating side effects, of owning an Instant Pot: a magical machine whose praises we’ve sung before and one which allows freestyle cooks like myself to flourish in whimsy.
Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker, $49.99 at Walmart
Prime Day is over, but Walmart is still offering this Instant Pot at 50 percent off the usual price.
Read More: The Best Instant Pot Cookbooks
The oh-so-trendy Canadian-designed multi-cooker sports a self-proclaimed seven functions (in the basic model) including; slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice maker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker, warmer, and time machine. Okay, so it’s not a time machine in the way that this is a time machine, but you know those rich, layered flavors that seem achievable only through an hours-long braise or by letting a sauce simmer all afternoon? The Instant Pot’s pressure cooking feature has the ability to (safely) impart “all day” flavor and tenderness in shockingly little time.
Because of this, flavors integrate faster and better than other quicker cooking methods, causing individual ingredients and their distinct profiles to give way to a more nuanced and balanced quality. In other words, it allows us to take calculated risks here and there with far less potential for ruining dinner and much more for discovering kitchen greatness.
That’s not to say recipes don’t matter when using the Instant Pot; they most certainly do. So put down the leftover bottle of coconut rum—it’s not going in your chili. But Instant Pot does free up the free-spirited among us for a little controlled experimentation. And if you’re a spice-huckin’ Gemini like me, it’s a bit of a dream come true.
So, how did my lil’ o’ this, lil’ o’ that, hybrid au poivre/beef stew turn out, you ask? As good and as dinner party-ready as anything I’ve cooked all year. With a little nifty maneuvering, Instant Pot can get you through your next dinner party from courses one to five and beyond.
In honor of my culinary feat of near negligence, try these wow ‘em dinner party recipes in your Instant Pot at your next hosted gathering and wait for a slow-building round of applause.
There is almost nothing that will instill a sense “everything is going to be okay” quite like whole roasted cloves of garlic. Put these out with some crusty bread and olives to welcome your guests as they mingle and drink that first glass of wine. Get the recipe.
Instant Pot is a dream device for cooking cheesecake evenly every time. This spin reimagines the beloved spinach and artichoke dip with a far more sophisticated presentation. Another nice one to bring out as guests are arriving or mingling. Get the recipe.
If you own an Instant Pot, you know why the soup course is now the best course. With the ability to jam-pack eons of flavor in minutes with the pressure cooking feature, this carrot soup with ginger and coconut milk will taste like a million hours. Get the recipe.
Cream of asparagus soup will be an unexpected first or second course and no one will guess it took so little time to prepare. So don’t tell them. Get the recipe.
Good lamb shanks can take as much as 5-7 hours to get right sans Instant Pot. This version tastes like the real thing, because it is the real thing…only in a fraction of the time. Get the recipe.
If it’s ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ you’re looking for to finish off the evening, look no further than this “better than sex” chocolate lava cake made simple and under 10 minutes with Instant Pot. Get the recipe.