A conventional rice cooker is more or less a pot with a lid and its own heat supply. With the simplest models, you have only one button to push – the one that says "cook" – and everything else happens automatically. The only issue with these self-contained rice cookers is that they're yet one more appliance to take up counter and cupboard space, which may well be in short supply in your kitchen. The Pampered Chef rice cooker takes a different approach to the problem. It's a compact piece of equipment that doesn't have its own controls or heat supply. Instead, it's designed to prepare rice in your microwave oven – the one appliance that almost always has its own space in the kitchen.
Pampered Chef Microwave Rice Cooker Instructions
The rice cooker itself is a simple device consisting of three parts. The main body is the actual pot, where the rice cooks. On top of that you'll place a disc with a hole in the middle, which is the boil-over guard. That helps prevent foam and spatters from the rice from getting into your microwave. Finally, there's the lid itself, which locks into position during cooking. The handles on each side double as the locks.
To use the cooker, first measure the rice and water into the pot. The company recommends two cups of water to one cup of rice, but suggests following the instructions that came with your specific brand and type of rice since not all rices cook exactly the same way.
For long-grain white rice, cook it on high for 12 to 15 minutes and then let it stand for 10 minutes before opening and serving it. For brown rice, start with five minutes on high and then continue for 20 minutes or so at 50 percent power. These times are approximate, and they'll vary depending on your microwave. Low-power models may take longer, and high-power models or models with an inverter may take less time.
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Other Uses for the Cooker
It's worth noting that the cooker is sold not as a rice cooker per se, but as a general-purpose microwave cooker. You'll often see it spoken of online as a Pampered Chef microwave steamer or pasta pot, and it serves both of those functions equally well. It comes in 1-, 2- and 3-quart versions, so you can choose the size that's best suited for what you're preparing.
You'll find Pampered Chef rice cooker recipes all over the internet, as well as on the company's own site. Even if you don't follow these recipies directly, they provide useful guidance for cooking with ingredients other than rice. Rice takes up less space than potatoes or pasta, for example, so the mashed potato recipe on the manufacturer's site suggests using the 3-quart model. Cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes on high, or until the potatoes are tender.
Pampered Chef rice cooker recipes for pasta follow a similar pattern, though pasta is usually cooked without a lid to prevent boiling over. Follow the microwave instructions given on the pasta's packaging, or start by microwaving for the suggested boiling time and then checking periodically until it's done. The micro-cooker's lid is perforated to serve as a strainer, so once your pasta or other foods are cooked you can lock the lid into place and use it to drain the excess cooking water.
A Word of Caution
As with anything you heat in the microwave, using the micro-cooker means there's a risk of burning yourself with very hot water or steam. Always use oven mitts or heatproof pads when you remove the cooker from the microwave, and make sure you hold it away from yourself when you unlock the lid and open it.
Foods that are high in fat or sugar may get too hot for the cooker, so heat them gently and check them frequently, stirring as needed. Don't try to brown your rice or sear any other ingredients in your micro-cooker.
Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.