7 Tricky Dishes Made Easier With an Instant Pot

If don’t have an Instant Pot at home, you may be skeptical of the hype surrounding this hot new kitchen gadget. The electronic pressure cooker works for many dishes once limited to the oven or stove top, and according to fans, it makes cooking them a lot less stressful. Looking for some recipes to convert you to the Instant Pot camp? Start with these notoriously tricky dishes you may have avoided in the past.

1. BROWN RICE

Bowl of brown rice.
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Why It's Hard: Brown rice delivers a whole lot of nutritious bang for your buck, but it’s also famously unforgiving to home cooks. Mess up your rice-to-water ratio and you end up with rice that’s soupy and mushy; leave it on the stove for a few minutes too long and your rice comes out dry, or worse, burnt. The whole cooking process takes 45 minutes to an hour.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Like a rice cooker, an Instant Pot delivers perfectly steamed rice that requires little-to-no babysitting on your part. When preparing brown rice in an electric pressure cooker, you should use a rice-to-water ratio of approximately 2 cups to 2.5 cups, according to the food blog Our Best Bites. Cook for 22 to 24 minutes (depending on your elevation), and then give the pot a chance to release its pressure naturally for about 5 to 10 minutes. Your rice should come out fluffy and flavorful.

2. CHEESECAKE

Cheesecake on plate.
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Why It's Hard: Cheesecake is one of those treats that rarely turns out as good at home as it does when you order it from your favorite diner. Unlike other cakes, it has to be cooked in a hot water bath: Without one, you end up with ugly cracks breaking up the top. Between the 20-minute prep time, two-hour cook time, and the time it takes to cool down, baking cheesecake can be an all-day affair.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Cheesecake may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cooking in an Instant Pot, but once you try it you’ll never go back. The food blog Little Spice Jar recommends preparing the graham cracker crust and cream cheese filling like you normally would, then placing the cake on a steaming rack inside the Instant Pot above one-and-a-quarter cups of water. Instead of sitting in a water bath, the cake steams, ensuring a perfectly smooth top. Allow it to cook on manual high pressure for 37 minutes, then let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure for another 25. Your cake will be cooked through in a little over one hour instead of two. (You'll still have to let it cool for a couple of hours, though.)

3. POACHED EGGS

Eggs benedict.
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Why It's Hard: It isn't easy to perfect poached eggs at home. Get it right, and you have a flawless white pillow that oozes with runny yolk the moment you pierce it with your fork. Get it wrong, and you have an egg with ragged, wispy whites and a yolk that’s broken or overcooked. The method for poaching an egg on the stove top involves dropping it in gently boiling water, a method that leaves a lot of room for error.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Poaching an egg with an Instant Pot is one step above hard-boiling it on the difficulty scale. This recipe from Cooking with Curls has you crack eggs into silicone cups rather than directly into a pot. Once your cups are filled, place them on a steaming rack inside your Instant Pot above one cup of water. Seal the lid and steam them for a few minutes to get round, neat, Benedict-ready poached eggs.

4. RISOTTO

Risotto in a bowl.
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Why It's Hard: Anyone who’s watched a competitive cooking show knows that risotto is infamous among chefs. The recipe, which involves stirring rice with liquid until it reaches a creamy consistency, is seemingly simple, but add the liquid too quickly, or not often enough, and you’ll miss out on that luscious texture the dish is known for. If you’re doing it right, making risotto can take up to 30 minutes of your undivided attention.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: With an Instant Pot, making 7-minute risotto without the constant stirring is a possibility. This recipe from Hip Cooking has home chefs toast their rice in a preheated pressure cooker like you would with conventional risotto. Once the rice is ready, add the broth, seal the lid, and leave it to cook for five to six minutes. After releasing the pressure and giving the rice a good stir, your risotto should be ready to hit the plate.

5. MAC AND CHEESE

Cheesy mac and cheese in a bowl.
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Why It's Hard: Homemade macaroni and cheese is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It also requires a lot of work, including cooking pasta, making a roux, and baking it all together in the oven. More steps means more time, more dishes to clean, and more opportunities to mess up.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Instant Pot mac and cheese is even more convenient than the boxed stuff. Instead of dirtying multiple pots, throw your ingredients—dry pasta, water, butter, seasonings—into your pressure cooker, says food blog Center Cut Cook. After leaving it to cook at high pressure for four minutes, release the pressure and add evaporated milk and a blend of shredded cheeses. Mix the ingredients to achieve gooey, cheesy goodness.

6. BAKED POTATOES

Baked potato on plate.
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Why It's Hard: Traditional baked potatoes are less difficult than they are time-consuming. To get fluffy oven-baked potatoes at home, you need to be prepared to wait about 45 minutes.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: An Instant Pot makes this simple dish even simpler. For this recipe from Self Proclaimed Foodie, just add a cup of water to the bottom of your pressure cooker, place your potato on the steaming rack, and close the lid. Cook the potatoes at high pressure for 12 to 20 minutes, then naturally release the pressure for another 10. That’s all it takes to transform your potatoes from hard and starchy to soft and creamy.

7. POT ROAST

Pot roast on a plate.
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Why It's Hard: Pot roast is a great meal to make on a lazy Sunday—not so much on a weeknight. The dish traditionally features a tougher cut of meat like chuck roast that needs to be cooked low and slow in a braising liquid until it becomes fall-apart tender. Depending on the size of your cut, the cooking process alone can take three to four hours.

How an Instant Pot Makes It Easy: Meet your new weeknight dinner staple. This recipe for pressure cooker pot roast from Amy + Jack cuts your roasting time in half and tastes just as good as a chuck roast cooked in a dutch oven. Start by browning your meat and sautéing your onions and garlic inside the hot Instant Pot. Load these ingredients into the pot with a cup of chicken stock and allow them to cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. Wait another 25 minutes for the cooker to depressurize naturally before removing the roast, and then add your vegetables and cook them on high for four minutes. Do a quick pressure release before taking out the vegetables and use the remaining juices to make your gravy.

This Gorgeous Vintage Edition of Clue Sets the Perfect Mood for a Murder Mystery

WS Game Company
WS Game Company

Everyone should have a few good board games lying around the house for official game nights with family and friends and to kill some time on the occasional rainy day. But if your collection leaves a lot to be desired, you can class-up your selection with this great deal on the Vintage Bookshelf Edition of Clue for $40.

A brief history of Clue

'Clue' Vintage Bookshelf Edition.
WS Game Company.

Originally titled Murder!, Clue was created by a musician named Anthony Pratt in Birmingham, England, in 1943, and he filed a patent for it in 1944. He sold the game to Waddington's in the UK a few years later, and they changed the name to Cluedo in 1949 (that name was a mix between the words clue and Ludo, which was a 19th-century game.) That same year, the game was licensed to Parker Brothers in the United States, where it was published as Clue. Since then, there have been numerous special editions and spinoffs of the original game, not to mention books and a television series based on it. Most notably, though, was the cult classic 1985 film Clue, which featured Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, and Lesley Ann Warren.

As you probably know, every game of Clue begins with the revelation of a murder. The object of the game is to be the first person to deduce who did it, with what weapon, and where. To achieve that end, each player assumes the role of one of the suspects and moves strategically around the board collecting clues.

With its emphasis on logic and critical thinking—in addition to some old-fashioned luck—Clue is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time and evolved with each decade, with special versions of the game hitting shelves recently based on The Office, Rick and Morty, and Star Wars.

Clue Vintage Bookshelf Edition

'Clue' Vintage Library Edition.
WS Game Company

The Vintage Bookshelf Edition of Clue is the work of the WS Game Company, a licensee of Hasbro, and all the design elements are inspired by the aesthetic of the 1949 original. The game features a vintage-looking game board, cards, wood movers, die-cast weapons, six pencils, an ivory-colored die, an envelope, and a pad of “detective notes.” And, of course, everything folds up and stores inside a beautiful cloth-bound book box that you can store right on the shelf in your living room.

Clue Vintage Bookshelf Edition is a limited-release item, and right now you can get it for $40.

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8 Facts About the Stonewall Riots

Monica Schipper, Getty Images for Airbnb
Monica Schipper, Getty Images for Airbnb

A pivotal moment in civil rights took place the week of June 28, 1969. That day, police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York City's Greenwich Village. The move was a clear condemnation by law enforcement officials of the city's gay population. The volatile riots that followed sparked a new sense of urgency about demanding tolerance for persecuted communities.

1. The Stonewall Inn was operated by an organized crime organization.

In the 1960s, homosexuality was under fire from all directions. Because it was perceived as being amoral, individuals caught engaging in so-called "lewd behavior" were arrested and their names and home addresses were published in their local newspapers. Homosexual activity was considered illegal in most states.

As a result, being part of the LGBTQ community in New York was never without its share of harassment. Several laws were on the books that prohibited same-sex public displays of affection; a criminal statute banned people from wearing less than three “gender appropriate” articles of clothing. Commiserating at gay-friendly bars was also problematic, because officials often withheld liquor licenses from such establishments.

This kind of persecution led to members of the mafia purchasing and operating gay-friendly clubs. It was not an altruistic endeavor: The mob believed that catering to an underserved clientele by bribing city officials would be profitable, and it was. The Genovese crime family owned the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street, which became known for welcoming drag queens and giving homeless teenagers and young adults a place to gather. Often, these places got tipped off before a raid took place so they could hide any liquor. But the June 28 raid at the Stonewall Inn was different: No one was tipped off.

2. Police had to lock themselves inside the Stonewall Inn to barricade themselves from the crowd.

During the June 28 raid, police (who were alleged to have targeted Stonewall for its lack of a liquor license and the owners' possible blackmail attempts on gay attendees) confiscated alcohol and arrested 13 people in total, some for violating the statute on inappropriate gender apparel. After some patrons and local residents witnessed an officer striking a prisoner on the head, they began lashing out with anything within arm’s reach—including bottles, stones, and loose change. A number of people even pulled a parking meter from the ground and tried to use it as a battering ram.

The police, fearing for their safety, locked themselves inside the Stonewall Inn as the angry mob outside grew into the thousands. Some were attempting to set the property on fire. Reinforcements were eventually able to get the crowd under control—for one night, at least.

3. The situation got worse on the second night of the Stonewall riots.

After getting the crowd to disperse, police likely thought the worst of their problems was over. But on the second night, the Stonewall Inn reopened and another mob formed to meet the police response. Both sides were more aggressive on the second night of the Stonewall Uprising, with residents and customers forming a mob of protestors and police using violent force to try and subdue them.

“There was more anger and more fight the second night,” eyewitness and participant Danny Garvin told PBS’s American Experience. “There was no going back now, there was no going back … we had discovered a power that we weren’t even aware that we had.”

4. Protestors set their sights on The Village Voice.

Tempers flared again days later when The Village Voice published two articles using homophobic slurs to describe the scene at the Stonewall Inn. Angry about the demeaning coverage, protestors once again took to the streets, with some descending on the offices of the Voice, which were located just down the street from the Stonewall.

5. Not all of the protests were violent.

During the demonstrations—which some observers later referred to as an “uprising”—some protestors opted for a nonviolent approach in order to be heard. Eyewitnesses reported residents forming Rockettes-style kick lines that performed in front of stern-faced policemen. Others sang or participated in chants like “Liberate the bar!”

6. The Stonewall Riots led to New York’s first gay rights march.

Once the riots had subsided, protestors were filled with motivation to organize for their rights. A year after the riots, residents began marching on Christopher Street and Sixth Avenue. The date, June 28, was dubbed Christopher Street Liberation Day. Thousands of people marched the streets while thousands of other people lined up alongside them to protest the treatment of the LGBTQ community at the hands of law enforcement officials and society at large.

Some members of a New York Police Department who had confronted protestors during the Stonewall Riots one year before were now being ordered to protect those same protestors during the walk. Other marches took place in other cities, marking the country's first widespread demonstration for gay rights.

7. The Stonewall Inn is now a national monument.

Since the events of 1969, the Stonewall Inn has been considered an important and historic venue for the new era of gay rights. On June 24, 2016, President Barack Obama made that official when he designated the Stonewall Inn and the surrounding area a National Historic Landmark under the care of the National Park Service. Many credit the Stonewall Uprising with the subsequent surge in gay rights groups. One participant, Marsha P. Johnson, started Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) the following year, an organization devoted to helping homeless LGBTQ youth.

8. The Stonewall Inn is still standing.

Following the riots, the Stonewall’s patrons were still faced with police harassment and were growing uncomfortable with the mob affiliation. Months after the event, the Stonewall became a juice bar before subsequent owners tried operating it as a bagel shop, a Chinese restaurant, and a shoe store in the 1970s and 1980s. New owners renovated the building in 2007.

Today, the Stonewall is once again operating as a bar and club at 53 Christopher Street in Manhattan. Naturally, everyone is welcome.

Note: An earlier version of this article misidentified Marsha P. Johnson's organization as Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries. The correct name is Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.