this thing's incredible

I’ve Cooked Ratatouille and Risotto at My Desk With This Portable, Battery-Free Slow Cooker

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer.

Six months ago, a targeted Instagram ad caught my eye. The Swivlit, it said, was a portable slow cooker that could prepare my lunch on the go — with no need for batteries or electricity. I had to know more, so I bought it.

My first foray into Swivlit “cooking” was a veg risotto. Before leaving for work, I added the dry Arborio rice, onion, and garlic into my Swivlit, then poured on vegetable stock. I blasted this in the microwave for 90 seconds before removing, stirring, and adding the peas, spinach, Parmesan and a bit of butter. After heating for another 30 seconds, I stirred once more and screwed on the lid, then left the house.

Come lunchtime, I was all set to go on an emergency Tesco run. But, after pushing the small air-release mechanism in the top and unscrewing the lid, I was greeted by a perfectly cooked risotto. There was no puddle of stock, and the rice was cooked all the way through. Even the spinach was wilted, rather than mush. It came pretty close to my regular on-the-hob result — but it took two minutes to cook, rather than 40 minutes.

I started with the recipes on the Swivlit website, but after four or five different dishes I grasped the basics. Even “hard” foods, such as pasta, rice, and potato don’t need to be precooked, and frozen fruit and veg works just as well as fresh; while the amount of stock varies according to what you’re cooking and how much other food is packed in.

So far, everything I’ve tried, from baked eggs to ratatouille, has been a success — although aim to eat your lunch within six hours after the initial zap in the microwave, as after that time the food starts to slowly cool (something I’ve fallen foul to a couple of times when meetings have overrun). Recently, attracted by the scent of my tomato-and-mozzarella pasta a few weeks ago, my deskmate, Anna, asked where I had bought it from — and couldn’t believe it when I said it had been cooking away all morning in the innocuous pot perched next to her. She bought one immediately.

Some other Strategist-recommended slow cookers

With over 2,500 ratings on Amazon, Morphy Richards’s Sear and Stew slow cooker is the best rated. In total, 82 percent of reviewers gave it five stars, and it’s received praise from rookie cooks to home chefs alike. It might be considered especially good for beginners, though 340 reviewers mentioned that the four cooking settings made the slow cooker easy to use.

This is the best-rated option at a lower price, coming in at under £30, with 81 percent of its 1,151 reviews being five stars. Reviewers praise its versatility — one says it’s a great option for tagine-style stews, while another says they use it to make bone broth for their dog, so you could say this cooker has the range.

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I Cook Pasta at Work With This Tiny Battery-Free Slow Cooker