Have you ever wonder if there is a difference in taste, texture and appearance when cooking the same exact recipe the traditional stove top method versus in an Instant Pot pressure cooker? We Did! So we set up and did a comparison test between the two.
FYI: An Instant Pot is a computerized pressure cooker and slow cooker. It’s also a rice cooker/porridge maker, sauté/browning pan and steamer. They say you can make yogurt in it as well as use it as a stockpot/warmer. Unfortunately, it’s not widely available in Sweden. I ordered mine here from Amazon UK. You guys in North America can find it everywhere.
Cooking for the Comparison
For the comparison, we’ll be making Jamie Oliver’s “Pappardelle with Amazing Slow Cooked Meat“. This recipe comes from Jamie’s Oliver’s cookbook, “Jamie’s Kitchen”.
The “Amazing Slow Cooked Meat” recipe was a great choice for this comparison because the cooking steps of the recipe are the same up to the actual cooking. Lamb was chosen as the protein. Furthermore, you can prepare this recipe with anything from beef, pork, venison, water fowl to moose. My absolute favorite, is to make it with wild boar.
First, let’s set the rules of engagement. We prepared each ingredient the same. Also, the ingredient portions were weighed out equally. In addition, we cooked the ingredients the same up to the time to put the lid on. In the comparison images, the Instant Pot images are always on the top for this post.
It all began with a simultaneous browning of the lamb. We set the Instant Pot to medium sauté (thanks Kath) and the stove to medium-high (induction).
The browning time for the comparison was a little faster with the Instant Pot. We used a one kilo (2.2#) trimmed boneless leg of lamb cut into about 2″ (5cm) chunks.
Browning was done in two batches and took about 20 minutes with the Instant Pot and 25 minutes with the stove-top. So far the Instant Pot is five minutes ahead. As we’ve all seen aromatics sauteing, deglazing and tomatoes being dumped into a pot, we’ll jump past that to the cooking portion.
Here is where the comparison will start to differ.
For the stove top method we need to place a dampened and oiled a cartouche that we had made ahead. For this comparison only the stove-top method used a cartouche. Cartouches are used when braising to hold all the moisture in.
FYI: You can see how easy it is to make a cartouche in my post, “Cartouche making, Simple and Easy”.
Now we covered the the stove-top pot and set the temperature to simmer (2 for convection) and began the three to four hour braise. At the same time my trusty assistant covered and closed the Instant Pot. Settings for the Instant Pot were manual /high pressure for forty-five minutes. Our comparison cooking was now underway.
Pressure cooking in the Instant Pot began after thirty minutes. Once complete, the natural pressure release took twenty-five minutes. Forty-five minutes of pressure cooking and fifty-five minutes of start-up and cool down gave us an hour and forty minutes total time. The stove top comparison took five minutes extra to brown and an extra five minutes for the cartouche. Stove top braising took four hours, which ends us at four hour and ten minutes of cooking time. In the end the Instant Pot took an hour and forty-five minutes compared to four hour and ten minutes of cooking time for the stove top method. Hence, the “Time of Cooking” award goes to the Instant Pot method which is quicker by two and a half hours. That’s less than half the time and a lot of energy savings!
Now that they are uncovered, we were surprised by the difference in the appearance. When comparing the two, the Instant Pot ragout was more vivid red. Furthermore, the meat texture of the Instant pot ragout differed from the stove-top. Textures of the meat in the Instant Pot ragout was finer. Perhaps the result of pressure cooking. But, the comparison cooking is now complete. Let’s see how they tasted.
Comparison Tasting and Conclusions!
We had seven guests at our dinner tasting. Of these only two had tasted the recipe before. Blind tasting was used to not bias anyone in the comparison tasting. With the five spoons in the bowls and tasted, the vote was in. Surprisingly it was unanimous! Eva and I (as well as Chloe) exempted ourselves as we had already tasted prior to the guests’ arrival. Our vote was also unanimous, except for Chloe who voted in favor of both.
And the winner of “Comparison – Stove Top versus Instant Pot Lamb Ragout” is——the INSTANT POT!
Yes, the instant pot ragout (red bowl) won the comparison five votes to two (Chloe’s vote was a wash). Our vote was for the traditional stove top method. Maybe, we were predisposed as we tasted the stove top method so many times. But, most of all it showed us that one can use the Instant Pot without loss of flavor. Indeed, maybe have a better flavor. We’re using the Instant Pot next time!
Disclaimer: No, we do not work for Instant Pot nor do we receive any compensation in ANY way. We just like our Instant Pot!