Coffee Maker Cooking: Brew Up Your Next Dinner
A few months ago, we introduced you to the wild world of dishwasher cooking. Poach salmon while cleaning dirty plates? No problem.
But some of you expressed concerns about having your sockeye sit so close to soapy water and the high energy cost of running a dishwasher.
Well, we've stumbled upon another wacky cooking method that may overcome these issues: using your coffee maker.
From steamed broccoli and couscous to scrambled eggs and poached salmon, the possibilities appear endless.
The chefs at Chowhound have brewed up entire breakfasts and lunches in the coffee maker. And the kitchen wizards at the blog developed recipes for pumpkin soup, chutney, even cinnamon buns, all made in the humble appliance.
So why in the heck would anyone not living in a freshman dorm ever want to do this? Well, if you're a soldier deployed in a war zone, a coffee maker might be your only option for a home-cooked meal.
"My nephew came home from Afghanistan complaining about the food in the mess hall," says Jody Anderson, a retired photographer in southern Oregon. "But the soldiers were allowed only to have coffee makers in their rooms."
So Anderson started developing recipes for the coffee maker, including ones for mac 'n' cheese, short ribs and chicken soup.
"I put all my recipes in a little book and sent it over to the boys in Afghanistan," she tells The Salt. "I also sent split peas and canned ham so my nephew could make split pea soup." Anderson also posted some of the recipes on Facebook with a few tips.
As Anderson describes it, the design of a traditional coffee maker gives you three basic cooking techniques:
Here at NPR's Science Desk, we tried making the classic coffee maker meal: poached salmon with steamed broccoli and couscous. The veggies steam up in the basket while the couscous and salmon take turns in the carafe.
The salmon looked a little scary while it was poaching. But the whole meal actually turned out pretty tasty.
Was it gourmet? No. But it was healthful and quick to prepare — about 20 minutes total. And the cleanup was superfast.
Overall, we thought the salmon poached in the coffee maker was slightly better than the one we cooked up in the dishwasher. And coffee maker cooking is clearly more energy efficient than running a dishwasher cycle or heating up an entire oven.
What about compared to frying the fish in a pan? Well, that's probably more of a tossup.
Coffee makers run at about 1,000 watts, while the stove puts out about 1,500 watts, depending on the type or brand. So the coffee maker might be slightly more efficient, but both cooking methods contribute such a small amount to a home's electrical bill that the difference is just splitting hairs.
Besides, for Anderson it's not about efficiency but about the joy of cooking with a Mr. Coffee. "It's just so darn fun," she says. "I tell you this: I will never be hungry in a hotel room again."
Recipe: Coffee Maker Dinner With Poached Salmon, Couscous And Steamed Vegetables
Note: We had a hard time getting the cooked salmon out of the carafe. So we used our hands. But if you have any other ideas, let us know in the comments.
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