– This thing has funny reflections. Whoa My little head is between (smacks lips) Ow! (upbeat music) Ooow! Everyone owns an Instant Pot now. What they really own is a pressure cooker. Yeah, it has other functions, but it’s a pressure cooker first and foremost.
It also has a searing mode, a simmering mode, it has a slow cooker mode. So, why use a pressure cooker? Why use an Instant Pot? Why use a slow cooker? What about a Dutch oven? You know, old school. Basically I have to cook beef stew four times in four different cookers so that we can compare them and we’ll see what we think.
And by what we think I mean what I think ’cause no one is going to be tasting it all. You’re just gonna have to believe me on that front. Let’s just quickly go over how pressure cookers work. A pressure cooker is basically just a pot that seals, there’s a rubber gasket here to create a nice tight seal, and has valves.
They’re safety valves that makes sure that the pressure doesn’t blow up on you. So what actually happens? The key is to understand what determines the boiling point of water, atmospheric pressure. You can’t see it, but Earth’s atmosphere itself is pressing down on the surface of the water, preventing the water in the pot from rapidly vaporizing into a gas, only when the water gets hot enough.
That is when it has enough energy, can it overcome the atmospheric pressure and bubble up into the air as vapor. That temperature is the boiling point. The thing is, atmospheric pressure isn’t constant.
At sea level, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you go high up in the mountains, there’s less atmospheric pressure up there and so water boils at a lower temperature, which can really mess up a recipe unless you account for it.
A pressure cooker basically does the opposite. By trapping steam, it allows pressure to build inside the pot, which raises the boiling point. Instead of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, you can get the liquid in your cooker up as high as 250 degrees, which is enough to significantly shorten stewing and braising times.
In here, your meat is going to get tender much faster. It could be three hours in this thing and becomes 45 minutes in this thing. It depends on what you’re cooking. (gentle music) All right, so here we go.
Just to avoid any confusion, I wanted to show you the stovetop pressure cooker, but for these tests I will be doing the Dutch oven method. I will be doing pressure cooker in one of these and slow cooker in the other, with searing cause I can sear in this first.
And then in this classic slow cooker, I’m going to do the recipe with no searing. So we’re going to really see the spectrum of possibilities, Herefore, the tools with the same recipe. (gentle music) So, for at most two recipes, the first step is to brown the meat and vegetables because browning equals flavor.
Yeah, it’s already like right out of the gates, tight, but I was able to get all the beef into this pot in one layer, making contact with the bottom of the pot, which in the Instant Pot I would not be able to do because it’s just too small.
So I would definitely be working in batches. That’s going to add time to your recipe even though it’s going to save you time on the braising end. (upbeat music) It takes time. I mean that’s where the slow cooker’s advantageous, right? This is letting you develop many, many flavors.
It takes time. Yeah, we’ll partially cover the pot. This is gonna allow some steam to escape. It’s gonna allow a little bit of surface browning, but still trap just enough that it’s not excessive cause it’s going to be in the oven.
It’s not a hot oven. It’s 300 degrees. But it’s going to be in there for a long time. We’ll check on you in about an hour and a half or so. (grunts) Dutch oven over here. So let’s just … Just going to examine a little bit here.
All the beef that was kind of poking up through the top has browned on that exposed face. That’s one of the great things with the Dutch oven, this nice slow cooking in the oven in that dry heat with the lid cracked, you do get this surface browning and that does contribute even more flavor.
(upbeat music) First thing we’re going to see is I’m not gonna be able to fit as much beef in here at once, so I’m going to have to work in batches browning this beef. That’s going to add time, plus this thing doesn’t get as hot as I can get a pot on the stove top over high heat, so it’s gonna take longer on that front too.
Same thing I did in the Dutch oven. The steps are basically the same. One big difference with a pressure cooker is when you have the lid on it, because it’s trapping the steam, that’s how it creates the pressure, it does not allow for much evaporation at all, very little.
The only evaporation you’ll get is when it does vent some steam. That means that recipes that are cooked in a pressure cooker will end up wetter than their stove top counterpart, which was allowed to have all this evaporation and reduction while it was cooking.
In most cases what that really means is that when you’re working in a pressure cooker, you need to use either a recipe that’s specifically created for a pressure cooker or you need to adapt it, drawing down the amount of liquid that you initially put in because you have to understand you’re going to end up with more on the final end of the process.
(lid clanks shut) So here we go. Once this comes up to pressure, it’s going to run for those 30 minutes. In those 30 minutes, already the beef is going to be pretty much close to done and then I will do the additional 15 once I add these vegetables back in.
Keeping them out initially is just to keep them from overcooking. So, what you’re really getting here is a major time savings on the actual cooking time compared to three or four hours in the oven or five to seven hours in the slow cooker.
Let’s open it up. (escaping vapor hisses) Oh, come on. (escaping vapor hisses) Oh, it goes the other way. (escaping vapor hisses) Aah. You can see it is bubbling. All right, there. That’s done. (gentle music) I am going to now slow cook in this multicooker.
I’ve done all my browning in here just as I had for the pressure cooker version, but instead of setting this to pressure cooker mode, I’m going to set it to slow cooker mode. So for the slow cooker, because it’s such gentle heat, I’m just going to add the vegetables in.
Slow cooker’s on. Put the lid on. (lid clunks shut) If I can get this lid on right. There we go. (gentle music) Okay, it’s time now for old school slow cooker version. First of all, I’m not browning anything.
This, this will not get hot enough to brown anything. Now, one thing I’m already thinking about is, okay, this recipe has wine. And wine, you know, you always want to cook off the alcohol, otherwise your food ends up tasting boozy.
I’m tempted because everything just gets dumped in the pot. to just get the wine in here right now and get the heat on and hopefully start to vaporize some of the alcohol before I start adding everything else.
So let me do that. Alright. I’m just gonna jam that all down in there. The beef’s got its flour on it. – [Male in background] I don’t like the way it’s slapping. Yeah, it slaps, but not in the right way.
That’s it. So the lid is on and you know, you can just leave this for a really long time. Go take a nap. (gentle music) All right, it’s time for me to try and observe this all-American beef stew cooked the traditional way in a Dutch oven.
So I’m gonna get down low. That had about 30 minutes of browning time of the meats and the vegetables and then about three to four hours in the oven. I just love the consistency of the liquid in this one.
It’s truly kind of rich and thick coating. It glazes the pieces of beef. It’d be more telling when I start to try the other ones and compare them a little more, but it’s rich, it’s got that beefy depth, you know, it’s what you want a beef stew to taste like.
I can cut it with my spoon even, like it’s tender enough to divide a piece in half with my spoon. So that’s quite tender. This is your gold standard. Here, I’ve got the pressure cooked all-American beef stew.
That involved browning the meat and the vegetables in the pressure cooker. Then sealing it, cooking it at high pressure for about 45 minutes total. So certainly faster than the Dutch oven but you still need a couple hours start to finish to get this one complete.
All right, flavor. Tasty. Beefy. The beef registers really upfront. It’s not as rich as the Dutch oven one. I’m sure that has to do with the fact that you didn’t have reduction in evaporation here so it’s a little bit thinner but the flavor is still beefy.
It’s still rich. It’s still deep and round. It’s got all of that. And I can just see what the meat… just looking at it texturewise, it’s really tender. It’s falling apart, it’s practically shredding.
It is shredding. This I can like … I don’t even need to cut it with my spoon, I can cut it with my tongue. I can just like smash the meat in my mouth to pieces. The potatoes are even like super creamy.
So consistency, I’ve sort of touched upon it ’cause they all start to interrelate a little bit but the stewing liquid is thinner than the Dutch oven one. It still has a nice body. It’s not watery, it’s not thin, it’s not weak, but it’s thinner.
Here we have our slow cooker version that we did in an Instant Pot so it was able to take advantage of its searing function to brown the beef, brown the vegetables, before switching it over to slow cooker mode.
So that browning is again like a 40 minute roughly window, 40, 45 minutes. And then the slow cooker is like a five plus seven even, hour window of cooking time. All right, flavor. Not bad. It’s a little, like shallow.
It doesn’t have that beefy depth. It kinda hits you and it almost tastes more like tomato soup. And then it kind of goes blank almost like there’s a flavor hole. The one that was pressure cooker mode in this very same device, it extracted so much beefy flavor into the stew.
And with the slow cooker mode, it just didn’t do it. It’s not bad that, you know, to be clear, this is not like inedible or I think it’s disgusting or you should never ever ever make this, I wouldn’t say that.
But it’s definitely different and a little bit like missing certain qualities I would want to have in a beef stew. Okay, tenderness. Let’s try … mushroom. Get off my spoon, mushroom. Okay. That was tender.
It really is. It’s not terrible. It’s not special. I guess that’s what I would say. By making sure that we use the gelatin rich stock we are getting thickening even though there was no reduction, meaningful reduction or evaporation during the slow cooking phase of the process.
You know, the lid was on. It’s not, I wouldn’t say it’s thin or watery or anything that too terrible like that. It’s just not that flavorful. All right, here we have our slow cooker. True, true slow cooker.
Old school, crock-pot beef stew. This one, there’s no browning. It was dump it all in the pot, turn it on and come back many hours later. We’re talking five, six, seven, eight hours later. So, flavor.
Let’s see how we do here. It’s very hollow. The flavor’s just missing. And I think again, you know like, flavorwise, it’s not bad. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m not saying it’s unpleasant, it’s just missing all of that kind of wonderful stuff about a good stew.
The beef is very tender, extremely tender, but it’s also boozy and that’s ’cause it’s hard to cook off the alcohol and the wine when you can’t really have high heat. Keep in mind that this has fish sauce in it.
This has soy sauce in it. This has Worcestershire sauce in it. This has all these things that are these flavor enhancers. God, I’d hate to think what this would taste like if we hadn’t added those, then it would really be insipid.
I think the consistency is pretty similar to the Instant Pot slow cooker one and the pressure cooker one. The three methods that didn’t allow for evaporation. This lack of flavor is really coming from the fact that in the slow cooker, there’s no browning.
That’s all the Maillard reaction that’s developing these, you know, it’s an incredibly complex chemical reaction and that’s not really happening in here. Side by side, the differences are really obvious.
Like the Dutch oven one has the best consistency, it’s the most delicious, and has the most complex flavor. It’s just hands down the best. Just look at the difference in the richness of the sauce in the traditional Dutch oven version versus the slow cooker one.
The pressure cooker one has, a few things that are a little bit less good about it. Time savings wise, I’m happy with this. The Instant Pot version, where I used the slow cooker, but I seared the meat and the vegetables first to try to get that base of flavor, is already a step down in flavor.
I would weigh more on this. Just take that Instant Pot and flip it to pressure cooker mode and get this out of it than get this out of it. And then the slow cooker is by far the least delicious one. It’s the least flavorful, it’s the least nuanced.
It’s so boring and plain and one note, still adds a bullet. Still is recognizably beef stew, I get that. But it’s the worst of the bunch. Like there’s just no contest. Which one you do obviously is going to come down to like what your situation is and how much time you have, and how much you care about the differences.
Certainly if I have the time to taste these side by side, like I’m doing Dutch oven in the oven, nice and slow, I need it faster. I love the pressure cooker for that. You still get great flavor and you get it in a fraction of the time.
(Music cuts abruptly) (Daniel uses his cheek as percussion to the theme of Super Mario Brothers) (laughs loudly) – [Producer] It’s a talent I didn’t know you have. – I didn’t know I had it either. I just– That was the first time I ever tried that.