The main function of a rice cooker is to save you monitoring time and effort to cook rice perfectly and when the appliance has a brown rice setting, it becomes a must-have for whole grain lovers.
But a rice cooker has so much more cooking potential, than just for rice. Many models have a steam feature and include a basket for steaming vegetables, meats and fish.
Some have a slowcook function like the Aroma cooker featured. A slowcook setting allows you to simmer foods for a certain amount of time and often, it’s a simple repeat of the white rice setting.
The Aroma Professional Rice Cooker with Slow Cook, Steam and Brown, is a joy to use for various meals. Its capacity is ideal for various meals including soups, stews, rice and more.This appliance has earned a prominent spot on the counter and is used several times in a week. Being able to brown meat, add other ingredients and change the setting to slow cook, saves on time and cleaning.
A slow cook or simmer function can be used for a variety of cooking because you can repeat the cycle to suit the need. Even if your rice cooker model does not have this function, you can simply use the white rice setting which is usually around 30 minutes and repeat as required. You can cancel at any time.
What you can do in this rice cooker:
- Saute vegetables and meats
- Brown ground meats
- Gravy, sauces
- One-dish meals
- Boil potatoes
- Cook vegetables
- Pasta noodles
Much of what you usually cook at a gentle rolling simmer on the stovetop can be successfully done in a rice cooker with various settings, simply by repeating and/or cancelling the white rice or slow cook setting as required. This kind of function allows you to saute vegetables before continuing to make soups or stews, to further enhance flavor, while cutting down on clean-up.
Some basic rules when using rice cookers:
- Never exceed the maximum level
- Always have at least the minimum level in the pot.
- Monitor and shorten cycles to ensure you don’t overcook
- Always have sufficient liquids in your recipes to avoid risk of burning foods
Steaming should only be done with an accessory basket and the steam setting. But this cooker allows you to be creative with other cooking tasks. I found it handier steaming pumpkin in my rice cooker (steam setting), rather than cooking on the stove or in the oven. It was also much faster and more effective.
For this article, I slowly simmered the carcass from a three-pound chicken with some veggies on the slow cook setting which was repeated once, then more vegetables, spices, seasonings and rice were added for another cycle to finish the homemade soup. The entire process took about 1-1/2 hours. But I was able to walk away often to do laundry or other chores. You can make excellent soup in an hour or less, but in case, I wanted to extract the most flavor from the bones, hence why I repeated the cycle.
Why use a rice cooker and not the stove? For energy savers, a counter appliance uses less energy than a cooktop. It also allows you to walk away in spurts and do other things while occasionally coming back to monitor cooking, to ensure foods are not overdone. If you’re cooking a big dinner, using the rice cooker for vegetables can help you manage the stove congestion. Rice cooker keep-warm cycles also can be very handy for keeping the meal hot till serving time. As for clean-up, rice cooker nonstick inner pots are a breeze to clean.
Obviously your creativity may be limited by your rice cooker’s capacity. The one used here has a 10 cup (raw) rice cooker capacity. You may want to keep that in mind when buying a rice cooker.
Don’t let your rice cooker idle in between rice nights, put it to work cooking other meals. When was the last time you made homemade soup to save money on food?
Find nice rice cooker recipes at Aroma