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Black+Decker 6-in-1 Stirring Cooker review: Multicooker's one redeeming quality: It makes a decent risotto

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The Good The $70 Black+Decker 6-in-1 Stirring Cooker has an automated arm that stirs risotto for you.

The Bad The cooker does a lousy job at just about every other task.

The Bottom Line Skip this cooker -- unless you're really into risotto.

6.1 Overall
  • Performance 6
  • Usability 6
  • Features 6
  • Maintenance 7

Risotto is a hard dish to master, mainly because it requires time, attention and a good amount of stirring to steadily let your rice absorb liquid. The $70 Black+Decker 6-in-1 Stirring Cooker addresses some of the tedium of this dish with an arm that automatically stirs the contents of the pot. The pot makes a decent risotto, but that's about the only thing that makes it worthwhile.

The removable stirring arm sits on a knob at the bottom of the cooking pot. The knob rotates when the cooker's on risotto mode.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The cooker has six settings -- rice, pasta, slow cook, sauté, warm and risotto. That last feature was a surprise standout during testing. To use the risotto setting, you place a small stirring arm over a knob on the bottom of the cooking pot. Fire that risotto mode up, and the knob will start turning the arm.

I wasn't sure how well the arm would stir a batch of mushroom risotto I made; the rice gathered into a pile as it expanded, and the arm just slowly scooted the mass of starch around the cooking pot. But the pile eventually collapsed, and the arm steadily stirred the expanding rice. The risotto was better than I anticipated; a little past al dente, but better than I could have cooked myself.

The cooker won't alleviate all your kitchen woes, though. Even though you don't have to stir your risotto manually, you still have to stand over the pot and gradually add your liquid until the rice absorbs it. And the cooker's other settings were disappointing. It's hard to sauté in the cooker because of the knob at the bottom of the pot. It also took more than 18 minutes to get water boiling for pasta, and water couldn't get hot enough to sustain a boil after I added my noodles. This resulted in noodles that were still partially raw after cooking them according to package instructions.

The cooker does help when it comes to making risotto, but it's not great at the other five tasks the product claims to tackle. Unless you just love a good risotto, pass on this cooker.

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