I have seen a lot of blog traffic in recent times about the wonders of Instant Pots, and other electric pressure cookers. I have to admit that while I can see the great advantages of the time saving in the hectic world of the 21st Century of such “time saving” devices, I am still reluctant to go that route.
First of all, I have memories of the bomb-looking, stove top pressure cookers of the 1960s, with their twist to lock lids, clamped handles, and top-mounted pressure gauges. These beasts were used to make corned beef and cabbage, stews, and the like. They were efficient, but scary.
Speeding up the process may have merits, but will we ever be satisfied? There is an episode of the Simpsons in which Moe buys a surplus fryer from the Navy, which “can flash fry a buffalo in 40 seconds.” Homer responds, “Forty seconds, but I want it now.”
On the other hand, I watched a documentary, Fannie’s Last Supper, in which modern chefs sought to replicate a banquet using Fannie Farmer’s 1896 cook book, using period equipment (including a cast iron wood burning range), this was slow food to the ultimate with some dishes taking days to prepare. Labour intensive? Yes. Time consuming? Most definitely. But the results were in the eating.
Today we need to find balance. Most if not all of us do not have the time to feed and regulate a wood burning stove. We don’t have the desire to hand grind meat, or to shred veg. A food processor has become more a “necessity” than a luxury.
And in the spirit of honesty, I seldom make soups in a pot. When I do, I still blitz it afterwards rather than potato mashing or whisking it to smooth. I fact, I am a great fan of my Morphy Richards soup maker. I generally run my ingredients through two cycles of cooking, to make sure they are ultra soft, and then use the internal blades to make a perfectly smooth soup. Timing is usually comparable to the pot method, but there is somewhat less slicing and dicing, and the final blitz is a “one stop” process.
Will I give in and go for a modern ultra quick pressure pot? The jury is out on that one. But I do like the look of many of the recipes I see for them. But like in Fannie’s kitchen, I will reserve judgement until I give it a taste. [I would really love comments and advice from those who use these devices as to merits/drawbacks – especially on the taste front].
For now, I have my electric cooker, my spiraliser, my food processor, mixer, blender, and a vast assortment of hind utensils for grating, squeezing, juicing, and grinding. I guess tech has been with us since the invention of pottery, but where will we find balance between quality and “I want it now.”