Committing to a big appliance is not an easy decision. No matter how spacious your kitchen is, the new appliance will need to replace something either in the cabinet or on the counter. A new appliance needs to earn its space, and my latest toy, the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker, definitely does. Since I unwrapped it on Christmas morning, I’ve been putting it to work once or twice a week, and I’m always thrilled with the results.
The Cuisinart Multi-Cooker took the place of my large crock pot in my cabinet. This wasn’t a difficult decision, because it is essentially a crockpot upgrade. A crockpot is a ridiculously basic appliance, and you’re probably wondering why you would ever need an upgrade, so let me explain.
Many crockpot recipes call for simply dumping all the recipe components in the crockpot, turning it on, and walking away. While this is highly convenient, the end result is nowhere near as flavorful as when you first sear the meat and caramelize the onions. But if you’re using a slow cooker, you’re probably looking for convenience and the last thing you want to do is have extra pots to clean. That is the beauty of this Cuisinart Multi Cooker: it lets me sear and then slow cook without having to use multiple pots.
The unit has four different cooking options: slow cook, roast, sear, and steam. The temperature can be set for each of the settings, and there is a timer function as well. The unit is very responsive, definitely faster than my oven takes to preheat. I sear onions at 450 degrees Fahrenheit before switching to slow cooking mode and my sauce shifts to a gentle bubbling in seconds. I didn’t expect to have as much control with an appliance.
I mostly use the sear and slow cook options and this has to do with the one shortcoming of the Cuisinart Multi-Cook: the non-stick insert. Because of its non-stick coating, there is no opportunity to develop those yummy little browned bits of meat and vegetables called fond to make a nice pan sauce. While I would love to use the appliance to roast a pork tenderloin or a small chicken, I would hate to miss out on the caramelized pan drippings to deglaze. If Cuisinart were to offer a different insert, I would probably use my multi-cook all week long.
The Cuisinart Multi-Cook has an MSRP of $395 but I am currently seeing it on sale for $199 at Chef Central and Amazon. Snatch it up before the price goes back up, or put it on your mother’s day wish lists. This is one appliance that will not gather dust.