Food Channel Finds is our way of bringing information and opinion on some of the latest products to hit the market. These might be interesting food items or equipment seen as we walk a trade show, on a grocery shelf, at a food event, or often, from press releases enticing us to put them to the test to see how they deliver.
Aroma Housewares Digital Multi-Cooker
One-pot cookers are all the rage. Not to mention vegetable steamers, rice cookers…it’s all about convenience, depth of flavor and versatility when it comes to this category. We recently put the Aroma Housewares 20-Cup Digital Rice Cooker/Slow Cooker/Food Steamer to the test.
This multi-cooker offers the ability to make restaurant-quality rice, healthy steamed meals, and delicious one-pot dishes in an easy-to-clean, family-capacity, intuitive machine. The cooker has the capacity to prepare up to 20 cups of any variety of rice and, once it’s finished cooking, it automatically switches to a warming function. You can also steam fresh vegetables in a vegetable tray that sits above the rice, allowing them to steam while the rice cooks, packing in the flavor – and maintaining healthy nutrients.
At The Touch Of A Button
At the touch of a button, you transform the rice cooker/vegetable steamer into a 4-quart slow cooker, perfect for soups, stews, risotto, pasta and even desserts like cobbler. Its Sauté-Then-Simmer (STS) function further automates the process. Once heated, it keeps your one-pot meal perfectly heated. It also has a 15-hour delay timer for multi-tasking.
Naturally, I was skeptical. Could this rice-and-vegetable steamer really deliver on foods beyond rice and vegetables? For instance, my beloved mac and cheese? We decided the nontraditional route was the perfect way to test it out. It was obvious looking at the product that cooking rice and steaming vegetables would be a slam dunk.
So off to macaroni-and-cheese land we went. First, I visited the Aroma Test Kitchens to find a recipe and decided we’d prepare Garlic Parmesan Mac and Cheese. One of the great things about the multi-cooker is that you don’t need separate pots to boil the water and strain the pasta.
We began with the STS function to heat milk, cream and garlic cloves, bringing it to a boil after about 7 minutes. You open the lid, stir and simmer until the garlic softens, giving the flavor time to seep into the milk – making sure to stir during this simmer period (about 3 minutes).
After that, you add the pasta noodles and close the lid. Once it reaches a boil, you open the lid, allowing it to cook for another 10-12 minutes until the pasta is done, stirring occasionally to keep the noodles from sticking.
Then it’s time to add butter, Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic powder and mustard powder—salting lightly and peppering to-taste. We did cheat just a little bit by borrowing some Grande Mozzarella cheese from our chef. It’s used by many of the top independent pizzerias in the country and the flavor is exceptional. We felt guilty for about a half minute.
After stirring a few more minutes, it was ready to plate and garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsley.
Pass Or Fail?
Then came the real test. How long would it take our employees to empty the cooker – or would they? The answer is, yes they did—in about 15 minutes. I will cop to having two servings myself and would have had a third, but that would have involved arm-wrestling one of our research folks and he could clearly take me in a fair fight, so I let it go.
To better understand the versatility, I sent the product home with our culinary assistant to test it out with her family. She loved it. Great for stews and yes, she even made dessert. As if it weren’t good enough already, the inner pot and vegetable tray come out for easy cleaning. With the no-stick surface, clean up takes no time. About as long as it took for the mac and cheese to disappear.
I give the Aroma Housewares Multi-Cooker a big thumbs up. Now if I can just get it back from our culinary assistant…