Confession time – I am a tad (ok more than a tad) scared of slow cookers. I just envisage me going out leaving the slow cooker ticking along and it catches fire and my house burns down with my pups in it. Ok probably a bit melodramatic but I don’t fancy the idea of leaving things cooking unattended, particularly since a friend of my Mum’s had a disaster with a bread maker and lost large parts of her kitchen.
I was therefore very interested when offered the chance to try out the Billyboil Thermal Cooker. The Billyboil insulated outer pot to keep food hot once it has been heated on the stove. No leaving cookers plugged in to the wall and the added bonus of saving on electricity. Given what is happening with electricity prices, anything that helps keep these down is definitely worth investigating.
To test out the Billyboil, I went looking for slower cooker recipes that I would normally avoid. Not all of the ones I looked at seemed suitable – particularly those that required ingredients to be added part way through the process and I thought the new ingredients might not get cooked.
I selected this sloppy joe recipe, in part because it seemed to meet my needs but also because I had been intrigued by the idea of a sloppy joe after reading too many US based books. When I was growing up a sloppy joe was sweat shirt. Definitely not something you wanted to eat, so I was keen to see what all these characters in books were eating.
And this sloppy joe is probably not something I would want to eat in public or when I was wearing white clothes. It is definitely not a neat dish to eat. It is the sort of dish that has magnetic attraction to white clothing. But the meat was cooked beautifully, it was lovely and tender but not dry and the tomato flavours had the time to fully develop.
To make this for one I used the following ingredients:
- 140g of minced beef
- ½ tbs of olive oil
- ¼ of a brown onion
- ½ tsp of minced garlic
- 2 tbs of tinned tomatoes (you can use tomato puree – sauce if you are in the US…)
- 1 tbs of tomato paste
- 1 tbs of tomato sauce (ketchup if you are in the US…)
- 1 tbs of packed brown sugar
- ½ tbs of soy sauce
- 1 hamburger bun
To make this in the Billyboil I heated some oil in the inner Billyboil pot and browned the beef with the onion and minced garlic on a medium high heat. I then popped in all the other ingredients, except of course for the hamburger bun. I then cooked it on the stove for 15 minutes until everything reached a constant temperature and then popped the inner Billyboil pot in the outer part of the Billyboil. I then left it for three hours.
It wasn’t a complete success with the Billyboil. The meat wasn’t very hot when I took it out but a quick minute in the microwave warmed it back up and scooped the meat into the hamburger bun. I am sure that used less power than a slow cooker would (but I am no expert). The idea with the Billyboil is that you heat everything on the stovetop and then pop the inner pot in to the insulated pot to keep cooking. The first time I made this I had it on the stove for about 5 minutes after browning the meat etc. I left it fifteen minutes the second time in case the temperature hadn’t reached a high enough constant temperature to keep cooking but it still wasn’t hot when I opened the Billyboil after 3 hours.
I wondered if part of the issue is that the recipe did not have enough liquid so I am keeping my eye out for another slow cooker recipe that is more of a stew/casserole type.
So not perfect but for someone like me who is not a slow cooker fan and is looking to save money, it is a good alternative if you want to try out some of those fabulous looking slow cooker meals. I have made one other recipe in the Billyboil which was equally delicious which I’ll share in the next week or so.
This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare and about 3 hours and 20 minutes to cook but most of the cook time is in the Billyboil when you can do anything else that you like without worrying about things boiling over or catching fire.
The Billyboil itself feels well made and not flimsy at all. There is very little on it that could break and I can see it lasting. It was also very easy to clean after making this recipe.
If you would like to purchase a Billy boil they are available through this link at a cost of AUD89.95 plus postage. They ship worldwide.
Note: I received the Billyboil as a gift but the links above are not affiliate links and I receive no benefit if you decide to purchase one.