Pros: Easy to use and clean, saves calories and time
Cons: Can be hard to find a good price
I can?t help it. I?m hooked on kitchen gadgets. I really enjoy cooking so I own quite a few appliances that may not exactly be necessary, but do come in handy. I have the bread machine, the food procceser, the waffle iron, indoor grill, electric skillet, grill pan, and yes, even one of those microwave egg cookers, The Egg Wave. I?m even considering buying the Perfect Pancake machine. You just know I had to have the Turbo Cooker. Actually it was a toss-up between a rotisserie grill and Turbo Cooker. My mom had given me Christmas money and a couple of months later I was still deciding. Finally I made my choice and have not regretted it.
What Is It?
This is a 3-in-1 cooking system for cooking simple and low fat recipes. It requires no oil and allows you steam fry and bake as well as stir fry, boil and use a variety of cooking methods right on the stove top. It?s a very large, domed cooking pan you use directly on the burner. Little or no oil is ever needed because it cooks with water, or more specifically, with the steam caused by the water circulating in the dome. The heat is evenly circulated in a convection effect.
You can even cook an entire meal at once, including dessert. For instance, meat can be cooking in the pan?s bottom while vegetables steam on the included rack and a cake bakes in the included spring form pan. All of this can be done without having odors or tastes from each item affect the others.
The Turbo Cooker is an As Seen on TV product. You know, the ones you see on infomercials, usually late at night. I usually turn the channel when they come on, but this time it actually held my interest. I was impressed with the quick and easy meals with seemingly no preparation. However, the price seemed too high. They were selling for around $99, a price I would never pay. I?ve found that the television prices are always higher than what you pay in stores though. I finally found a store that sells it at a decent price. Kohls department store always has them for $59 even though the sign the price is listed on states that it is regularly $99. I have a merchandising assignment at 3 different Kohls stores and it has always been $59. This is even a better deal than what you might find on e-bay since they usually charge high shipping prices. Plus, unlike ordering it you can return it conveniently if necessary. As an incentive to get you to pay the higher prices by ordering from the company, they have added some new bonuses like a timer, a smaller steam rack and extra recipe cards. The regular set does not include the timer or extra rack and contains fewer cards but all else is the same.
Spring Form Pan
Quick Cooking Guide
The base unit is made of aluminum. The interior is coated with Dupont Teflon? and the exterior is finished with a high heat resistant material. The non-stick surface worked so well at first that the pan could be cleaned with a simple wipe of a cloth. Nothing stuck to it. With use, though, it became necessary to use a little more elbow grease for some substances. If one is very careful this can be avoided. Just be sure you never let it overheat or use too little water when cooking. It?s still pretty simple to clean. All it takes is warm soapy water and the swish of a washcloth. You definitely want to avoid an abrasive utensil for cleaning it. Two grooves are designed into the top ledge. One holds the lid and forms the vapor seal and the other holds the steam rack when you want to use that. There are black handles on the side to allow you to pick up and drain the pan or just move it if desired. One is a long straight handle and on the opposite side of the pan is a smaller, looped one. Both stay cool to the touch.
The domed lid is uniquely designed with straight sides. This design, which fits into the ledge in the pan, locks it in to allow the steam to quickly cook food and make oil unnecessary. There is a vent on top as well as a knob for removing the lid. It stays cool to the touch. The vent is either left open or closed depending on the recipe being used. Each recipe lets you know whether to open or close it.
The steam rack is a basic metal rack that can be used to steam vegetables or hold the spring form pan or other items you want to cook. It gives you more room, or levels, to cook with. The slats are a bit large for many vegetables so I bought a small collapsible rack that rests on top of it if I want to cook small vegetables that would otherwise fall through. These little racks can be found at Wal*Mart very cheaply. I don?t need to use it every time, but it does come in handy. The steam rack is also great for warming tortillas when you make the easy 8 minute fajitas. The Turbo Plus includes one of the small racks.
The spring form pan allows you to bake the delicious cake, make souffles, quiche and other items. It?s a basic 10? spring form pan. Cakes are so much easier to remove with this design.
A cooking guide allows you to design your own recipes because it gives times and amounts of liquid needed for a large variety of items, as well as reheating methods. There are no actual recipes on it, but there are some contained on the included recipe cards. The cards are simple to use and tell you ingredients and times, amounts of water needed, and whether the vent should be open or closed. Some of the delicious recipes are; a chocolate cake made with diet cola and cherry pie filling, pork chops that are ?steam-fried? and only take 4 minutes (really!), 8 minute fajitas, lasagna, whole baked chicken and breakfast pizza. I?ve tried most of the recipes and use them again and again. The family loves them. The cooking method saves a ton of calories by eliminating oil and butter. Even the cake requires none of that.
The video is short and fun to watch and includes more suggestions for recipes that are not on the cards. It's not nearly as boring as watching an infomercial.
A Sample Recipe
The 30 recipe cards included in the set have some absolutely delicious and simple recipes. Here are the general directions for making the fried pork chops:
Season 4 thinly cut pork chops to taste (they suggest salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper)
Place pork chops in base and place steam rack into position (they suggest steaming a head of broccoli on it for this recipe)
Cover (valve closed) and cook on high heat for 2 minutes
Remove cover and pour ? cup of water into base
Cover (valve closed) and continue to cook 1 minute
Turn pork chops and add another ? cup of water, replace steam rack
Cook an additional 1 minute. The valve stays closed the entire time for this recipe.
If broccoli is not tender enough, move chops to steam rack and add ? cup more water
Replace cover and cook 2 more minutes.
These pork chops are absolutely delicious and taste ?fried? even though no oil is used.
Is It Really Worth It?
In my opinion, this is definitely worth having. Sure, you could just try to cook an entire dinner in a great big old covered pot, but how many large pots are coated with such a good quality non-stick surface? Or have a domed lid that creates the perfect conditions for steam frying and baking? Or has multi-layers for making lots of different dishes? Not many. Also, it would be difficult to find a skillet that is deep enough for this kind of cooking or had the specially fitted lid like this one. The Turbo Cooker is certainly a unique way of cooking and saves lots of calories and time.
If you like experimenting and adapting your own recipes like I do, this is the perfect way to do it. Just about anything can be cooked in this pot and it?s so easy. It?s great for the working parent who doesn?t want to eat out every night but also doesn?t want to spend a ton of time waiting for food to cook. Much of it can be thrown right into the dishwasher and it?s so easy to clean up afterward since so few dishes are needed. I do recommend sticking to the basic set and trying to get a good price like I did. There is no need, in my opinion, to order the new and ?improved? set with a couple of additional items and paying much more. But I think this basic set like I have would make a great housewarming gift, or a gift for newly weds or college students. I?m not even considering that rotisserie anymore, not that I have the room anyway..