Multi-cookers are billed as machines that can do it all, from chopping to cooking, meaning you don't have to babysit your risotto.
One-pot meals are big with those who hate to do dishes, but there’s often a limit to how versatile these dishes can be, and you’ll likely still get knives and cutting boards dirty in the process. All-in-one machines attempt to fix this problem by letting you chop, stir, and cook in a single bowl with a few attachments. The most famous of these worldwide is arguably the Thermomix, but at the 2017 International Home and Housewares Show, All-Clad had its version on display, the Prep&Cook.
True to its name, the Prep&Cook does a lot with its five attachments. It comes with a double blade for chopping, whisk, mixer, a blade for kneading dough and crushing ice, and a steam basket. With all those inserts and its heating mechanism, the device can steam, slow cook, mix, whip, crush ice, chop ice, and so on.
On the control panel, there are six buttons for preset programs: sauce, soup, simmer, steam, pastry, and dessert. These promise to offer “foolproof” results and are fairly versatile. Clicking the soup button once will cause the machine to make a creamy, pureed soup, while pushing it twice leaves the ingredients chunkier. For more control, you can set the time, temperature, and speed manually. Obviously whatever attachment you have installed will affect how your dish turns out.
Because these types of multi-cookers are foreign to many cooks, it’s essential that they come with a healthy amount of instruction. The Prep&Cook comes with 300 recipes, and a quick-start guide that tells you the proper blades and speeds to use if you want to turn it into a blender versus a food processor or mixer. With 12 speeds, a temperature range between 90 and 270 degrees Fahrenheit (32.22 and 132.22 degrees Celsius), and a timer that goes up to 120 minutes, it’s definitely more than a glorified slowcooker. However, you can only change the temperature in five-degree increments, so it’s not exactly a precision cooker.
Due to the amount of attachments and the bowl’s 4.7-quart capacity, the Prep&Cook likely won’t be easy to hide in a cupboard. It seems like a handy tool for novice cooks, but it’s priced more for professionals: We found it on Amazon for $1,056.
The Thermomix is even more expensive at $1,300, but you can control the temperature more precisely and it requires fewer attachments. It also has a cleaner, more modern interface with its touchscreen and knob. Maybe with a little competition, one of these machines will one day cost under a grand.
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