I bought my brother an Instant Pot for Christmas. If you’ve never heard of them before they’re a fancy electronically-controlled pressure cooker. You can cook many different things in it and they even have a Bluetooth model. I’ve wanted one for a while but never could justify getting it – so my brother got to be the guinea pig. He absolutely loves it so I was motivated to finally get one myself.

I picked one of the easiest things to make in the pot for our first meal – beef stew. I followed this recipe from the Instant Pot site:

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • Stew Seasoning of your choice, amount adjusted for 2 pounds of meat, McCormick Stew seasoning was used as seasoning by original creator of ┬áthis recipe, two packets were used.
  • 4 cups Water
  • 5 potatoes chopped
  • 1 cup carrot chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 cup green beans raw

I took the easy route for the seasonings and picked up a packet of the McCormick Beef Stew Seasoning Mix. The instructions call for putting the beef, seasoning, and water into the cooker for 45 minutes. Then you’re supposed to release the pressure quickly, add the veggies in, and cook for another 10 minutes.

This is where things went a little wrong.

There are two ways to release the pressure in an Instant Pot. Quick release and natural method. Natural method means you let the pot cool down with time and the lock will open – naturally. For recipes requiring several steps or a more rapid stop in the cooking process, quick release is your solution. Quick release is a special valve on top of the lid that blows the steam out super quickly (and loudly). I read the instructions for the Instant Pot and understood cooking things with a lot of starch, like rice, can cause foaming inside. Using the quick release with starchy foods isn’t recommended because it’ll turn into a hot mess. Literally, a hot mess.

I didn’t realize that the first ingredient in the McCormick’s packets was corn starch. Refer back to my comment about starchy foods. Yup, you’ve guessed it – I had a hot mess. Imagine hot steam then beef fat and water spraying everywhere over the kitchen. I threw a towel over the spout to contain it.

Lesson learned: be aware of all ingredients of your meal before cooking it!