While I was at BlogHer I spent a lot of time ogling the Ninja Deep Fryer. We’d gotten a deep fryer for a child for Christmas, but then presents didn’t match numbers and even though I don’t think ANY of the children counts or cares, I do. It was a cheap 10.00 special that I think we actually got another discount on because of something or another. It is small. I’d started playing with it sort of by accident after our mini-vacation to Door County. (We bought cheese curds, have to fry them) Anyhow, ours isn’t a family sized fryer. I talked to the very nice reps several times, watched as they demo’d their products and explained features. I’d occasionally chip in my 2 cents about a feature and why I might like that or not or whatever. I swore up and down I’d never cheat on my Vitamix. (I’m reconsidering)
Anyhow, I was drawn by the deep fryer, but something happened. I started paying attention to all the nice things about the Ninja Cooking System. (Metal insert! Remember-Denise had just broken my crock.) It sears! It bakes! It cooks faster with less fat! (oh no, I am going to sound like an infomercial. Oh wait…maybe that’s why what happened next happened: the nice sponsors offered to send me the Ninja product of choice to try out. I chose the 3-in-1 cooking system because well, it makes more sense than owning a (really nice) deep fryer. They didn’t ask me to blog, tweet, Facebook or G+ or anything about it.
It came. I unboxed it (with much tugging, pulling, it was horrible to unbox. Really.) during dinner, so I could grab the instructions and the sample recipes. The next day it was close to dinner time. I had nothing planned. A nightmare day. Nothing to grab to just feed Mama. Then I remembered the easy Spaghetti and Meatballs from the recipe book. 30 min? Hmm. Ok, so I dumped the water, the pound of spaghetti, a jar of sauce, a box of frozen meatballs in the cooking system and turned it on. A few minutes later-I was instructed to go buy a better cone for the recently spayed Lola. The little inflatable one did nothing to keep her from trying to eat her bandages off. I told my mother: dinner is in the crock, it will be done in 15 min. Serve yourself and there is bagged salad. Then I left. I came home to raves about the fact that the meatballs were moist for a change and something about how it needed salt. (weird because I never add salt, but I did use a different brand of sauce)
The next day: we had a rotisserie chicken from our shopping excursion. But no sides. I didn’t feel like working up anything. Oh! Boxed rice mix with that scary saute part. Saute! I can do that in the Ninja. That turned out well. No sticking to my pans because I wandered off and let it burn. More flavor than the microwave method. Same amount of time as both methods. I made some cole slaw to go with it. Again: dinner in 30 min.
The next day: another crazy busy day. I was sure I could Ninja my way through dinner. Now what do we have? Frozen chicken strips. A jar of wine mushroom simmer sauce. A box of pasta. Oh! I could do that the same way I did the spaghetti. Yep, I tossed the frozen chicken in with half a box of pasta, the jar of simmer sauce, and a couple of cups of water. Dinner in 35 min. Again.
Next up: Turkey tenderloin. We’d gotten a double pack of preseasoned turkey tenderloins at Costco on our inaugural visit. I’d cooked the first one in my old slow cooker. It was dry and pretty awful. This time I used the Ninja. I seared it first. (easy! Set the dial to the stove top setting. Put a tiny bit of oil in. Throw the tenderloin in. Set the timer for 7 min. Walk away. Come back. Turn it over. Repeat. My meat had color. (My family has long been accustomed to grey/beige meat because I NEVER sear. Another step. Why bother? Oh.) Then I pulled the meat out. Put the rack in. Put some water in the cooker based on the weight of the meat. Put the meat back in. Turned it to the oven setting. 35 min later we were enjoying a turkey tenderloin that my mother thought I had used a different recipe to make. Meanwhile I was raving about the prettiness of the perfect sear. (Steam infused baking feature!)
Last night: turkey burgers. (don’t ask. I think we hit some sort of turkey sales month or something) I put the three turkey burgers in. I turned it to the stove top medium setting. I set the timer and wandered off. Then back to flip, set the timer again. Wandered off. No standing and poking. No adjusting the flame. No sticking. No mess. I felt confident so I put cheese on them. Popped the lid on and cooked for another minute or two while I readied the buns. 16 min start to finish dinner.
I haven’t done any serious slow cooking in it yet. It is hot and I think Chili won’t fly. The kids haven’t been over since it arrived either so that minimizes the desire for some really large dish of my usual slow cook favorites. I haven’t baked in it yet. (though I am considering banana bread or cherry muffins)
Here is the thing: all of those meals were fast. They were better than if I had used the stove or oven. They didn’t heat up the whole house. Clean up was a snap. No soaking the nonstick Ninja pot overnight. It isn’t heavy lifting. It gets hand-washed after dinner with no complaints and there is never any of that grunge that my regular crock would get even after a soak, a scrub, and run through the dishwasher. I use one pot start to finish–I didn’t need to make the pasta separate from the meat and the sauce. No colander to wash. It was perfect for those panicked days when I realize people expect to be fed. I haven’t had to say “Denise, can we please order something? I have no time to cook.” She hasn’t broken the crock or had trouble transferring leftovers from crock to storage. I don’t go through the kitchen to see my crock soaking overnight. (She blogged about the cleaning a few days ago)
It is more expensive than the “average” slow cooker. (159.oo or so-depending on where you get it)
It doesn’t seem to beep or signal when it is done.
I’d prefer a dial system that works more like the dial/toggle thing in the Prius for the heat. (This may make no sense but it is a single round button that makes the display go from the where do you want the heat/ac, to temp, to fan by pushing it back and forth and then turning to set the setting) I will get over it, but I really dislike the turning past the slow cooker to the oven or to the stove setting. It feels weird with the clicks.
It doesn’t go to auto warm-but maybe I just need to read the directions-because I see an auto-warm light on it.
I’d like to have had a bit better quick start recipe book with more times and how-to when it comes to layered meals.
Your family will tell you how much better your cooking has become which makes you feel like you’ve served slop for the last 20 + years.
Yes. Those are the cons. Most of them probably are addressed in the instruction guide.
But if I were you, I’d go get one. Now. Right away. I am in love and may never use the oven or microwave again. Go watch the demo videos at the link above. It’s fabulous. More fabulous than I imagined. Be on the look out for me to branch out and share some experimental baking and recipes too. (AFTER BlogHer)