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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pot Roast Using HamiltonBeach® Roaster

We bought our previous home solely on the basis of location. Unfortunately storage was almost non-existent so I decided to eliminate as many single use appliances as possible. We also bought this house because of location however, there is more than ample storage here. Still I stuck to the decision to not buy any single use appliances. A countertop roaster was tempting after a couple of overnight boat trips as a few of our fellow boaters swore by their Nesco® roasters. While I could see the usefulness of such an appliance, I kept putting it off buying one because of the size as storage on a boat is always limited and because it reminded me too much of a slow cooker, something I'm not really fond of using despite owning two.

A couple of days ago I asked my husband to stop at the hardware for a couple of items needed for doing the preliminary prep work on the kitchen for the remodel. He came home with four appliances! The hardware store was having an appliance clearance and he just had to take advantage. Three of the appliances were stashed for gift giving but I decided to keep the fouth, a HamiltonBeach® countertop roaster, for myself. The HamiltonBeach® countertop roaster had an original price tag of $59.99 on sale for $15.99. Similar savings were on the perculator ($66.99 for $20), hand held blender with chopper ($29.99 for $10) and personal coffee maker ($19.99 for $10).

The Roaster

The HamiltonBeach® countertop roaster is smaller than the Nesco® roaster (18 qt) at 6.5 qt. The outside is a crisp white with black lettering. The white metal lid (not shown) has two small vent holes. The black metal roasting pan is large enough for a 5 lb roast or large chicken and is removable for easy cleaning. It does not have a non-stick surface. The temperature range is 200ºF to 450ºF controlled with an easy grip knob. There is an indicator light as well. I was disappointed that instructions and a recipe book were not included with this appliance. The box was still factory sealed so obviously these were simply not included. I was also disappointed that the temperature markings are in fahrenheit only.

Cost of operation is always something that should be considered for any appliance. Remember every kW counts so we should always be striving to use less electricity. This roaster is 750 W compared to my oven element that is 2400 W. In terms of cost the roaster will cost $0.09 per hour where the oven costs $0.28 per hour. Unlike the calculated costs for my slow cookers that end up being more expensive to operate than using the large burner (2000 W) and a pressure cooker, the roaster appears to be on the money saving end.

I placed a frozen blade roast in the roasting pan, seasoned it with Montreal Steak spice, sliced onions and added about ½ c of water, put the lid on the roaster then set the temperature to 250ºF much the same as I would do if roasting in the oven. After two and a half hours the roast was progressing quite nicely so I added the potatoes, carrots and corn but unlike doing a pot roast in the oven, I did not increase the temperature to 350ºF. It seemed to me that the roast was cooking too fast so I was immediately concerned that it would not be tender. The vegetables took about 40 minutes to cook. Instead of removing the vegetables and roast as I would with oven cooking, I poured the cornstarch slurry directly into the juices and allowed it to thicken about 5 minutes. This eliminated using the large burner (2000 W) on the stove but the real reason for doing so was to do everything in the same dish.

Pot Roast

I have to admit I was very surprised at the results. Normally a roast done this way would take me 4 to 4½ hours (10.8 kWh or $1.29) but it only took 3 hr 15 minutes using the countertop roaster (2.44 kWh or $0.29). So on the green scale for energy use, the countertop roaster used about ⅕ the kWh of the oven.

The next test was the appearance. In comparison to oven cooked the vegetables and roast were more than comparable. There was a bit less caramelization likely because I did not increase the final cooking time. The vegetable colours were bright and enticing with a firm texture without being overcooked and mushy that often happens in a slow cooker . Making the gravy directly in the pan was a simple convenience for me and I often do the same when using a slow cooker. The end result was stew-like vegetables with the meat separate. The final test was of course the taste.


Unlike cooking this type of dish in the oven or slow cooker, the vegetables and meat were still steaming when being plated even though we let the meat rest for 5 minutes. One notable difference is the house was not filled with the smell of dinner but more of a hint. Despite my reservations, the roast was extremely tender, almost melt-in-your mouth tender. The vegetables were very impressive, cooked perfectly! The gravy was tasty giving a nice addition to the vegetables even though there was not extra for the meat.

So I am quite impressed as I ended up with quite a nice meal while saving a lot of kilowatts, both of which are very important to me. Given this was the first time using this appliance, I was pleased. The results were definitely better than a slow cooking and far superior to a microwave oven. However, next time I will cook the roast at a lower temperature (200ºF) to get the end result medium rare. I will also add a bit more liquid for extra gravy. Mushrooms would have been a great addition to the vegetables as well.

All in all, I'm pleased with the energy savings and cooking results of this countertop appliance. The size is just right as well. Depending on what you are cooking, a meal for four is easily obtainable and I think it will be perfect for baked beans or casseroles. It is also small enough that it doesn't take up a huge amount of room for storage. We often have fresh baked bread with dinner so that means juggling the oven space sometimes so this is an easy solution as well. It will also be ideal for my bulk cooking sessions.

2 food lovers commented:

Krissi said...

That sounds great, although I am in the "don't want any one use appliances" category AND I don't have the space. I don't mind using a slow cooker, but what you did sounds really great! Just one question...why the gravy on the vegetable, not on the meat? If I were choosing only one item for gravy, it would definitely be the meat.

Garden Gnome said...

Normally I would make the gravy separate so it could be used on either the vegetables or meat. However, in this case I really wanted to be able to critique the end result of the roast. Gravy would have made the roast appear moister than it actually was. The second reason was doing everything in one pot very similar to what it would have been had the roast been cooked in a slow cooker.

Take care,