When I used to be a child, my mom owned a Farberware meals processor that should’ve price a reasonably penny. The highly effective motor made a soothing whirr, and it was so well-built that it is nonetheless chopping away, nonetheless making that beautiful sound.
Once I left my dad and mom’ dwelling although, I did not actually use a top quality meals processor for 20 years. I by no means actually thought I used to be lacking out on something, however that may simply be as a result of each time I encountered a meals processor, it was a chunk of junk. For the final a number of years, my spouse Elisabeth and I’ve used her previous Cuisinart PowerBlend Duet, a lightweight, loud and underpowered factor that additionally doubles as an underpowered blender. Every every so often if I push it somewhat too laborious, it begins to scent like burning electrical tools. Recently, nevertheless, my good friend Shannon requested me about my favourite meals processor. Shannon is a talented dwelling cook dinner and when the one she had for years lastly gave up the ghost, I used to be curious to assist her discover her subsequent one, and began to surprise if I’d been lacking out.
As the highest choose for each America’s Test Kitchen and The Wirecutter, it is usually accepted knowledge that the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor CQ (aka the Classic Series 14-Cup Food Processor) is the long-reigning champion. At a $200 listing value, it will get stellar critiques and lasts for years. But Shannon wished to know if she ought to change to a fancier and dearer new mannequin—particularly a type of from Magimix, Cuisinart, or [Breville], the latter two having built-in mini processors, which, because of a bowl insert, helps you course of smaller portions of meals.
I did a little bit of analysis and referred to as in each the traditional 750-watt Cuisinart 14 cup, and the newer, fancier, 16-cup, 1,200-watt Breville Sous Chef ($500 listing), which each have the capability, energy, and heft to maintain a house cook dinner joyful for years.
Key to my testing course of was the 2017 guide Food Processor Perfection from America’s Test Kitchen, supplemented by a few Shannon’s favourite recipes. Using examined, trusted recipes allowed me to deal with what I used to be doing and to not fear that any defect within the completed meals was because of the recipe.
Cut to the Chase
I cackled involuntarily after I ran just a few stalks of celery by way of the Cuisinart and so they simply freaking disappeared into easy, uniform slices beneath the blade.
The evening the Cuisinart confirmed up, I used to be drained and cranky. It was additionally simply after Thanksgiving, a meat-filled vacation that went on for a couple of week and I figured I might spend that evening splayed out on the sofa. But I went upstairs and there was this shiny new meals processor on my counter, and I figured I used to be peckish and I’d simply make some hummus. From there, I made a shaved mushroom and celery salad and that in some way spun off into making inventory out of stuff in my freezer which had nothing to do with the meals processor and after that, I figured why not Processor Perfection‘s mushroom Bolognese, as a result of hey, it was solely 9 o’clock.
I used to be each cooking shortly, and beginning to cook dinner issues I did not usually make, an impact I actually loved.
“Classic Joe,” my spouse quipped, surveying the late-night kitchen-scape earlier than disappearing with some hummus.
All of it aside from that inventory actually obtained me into the swing of getting a succesful meals processor. I prefer to suppose that my knife abilities are stable, however holy smokes, I cackled involuntarily after I ran just a few stalks of celery by way of the Cuisinart and so they simply freaking disappeared into easy, uniform slices beneath the blade. Two kilos of mushrooms for that Bolognese screamed by way of the chute very quickly, and that is the type of factor that each takes eternally and makes a large number of your counter should you’re doing it by hand. Very shortly, I noticed the pace element of getting one in all these round, and sure you have to wash the bowl, however when issues transfer this shortly you are undoubtedly gaining time on a bigger undertaking. That mushroom and celery salad, a dish that is meant to serve six, ended up in a Tupperware close to my reducing board, and I ate the entire thing earlier than hitting the sack.
Even making these recipes for the primary time, which all the time slows issues down, all of them got here collectively in a relative flash. I used to be each cooking shortly, and beginning to cook dinner issues I did not usually make, an impact I actually loved. Clearly, I had been lacking out. The query then turned whether or not to stay with the traditional mannequin or go fancy.
A New Spin
Once the Breville arrived, I marveled at its sculpted, die-cast base and big field of blades and discs (this can be an excessive amount of Team Tiny Kitchen), and whereas I did not got down to do head-to-head testing, I noticed it was the one method to shortly perceive every machine and the way they dealt with related circumstances.
Making potato latkes, as an illustration, I observed that the Breville’s chute opening allowed for bigger potatoes, however it’s not all the time a fascinating factor, as meals can actually go sideways and you find yourself with flat bits spinning across the high of the blade. The Cuisinart made fast work of potatoes and onions, and on the finish there have been tiny quantities of scrap on the highest of the grating disk. With apply, I realized to concentrate to the way in which I put meals within the chutes to keep away from reducing sideways—a type of “know thy processor” factor.
I began taking to the Breville, maybe particularly because the mini bowl allowed me to riff and blitz one thing like a handful olives, which I added to some tasty cauliflower rice. It additionally helps should you do not thoughts working soiled, that is to say having just a few tiny bits of cauliflower or parsley within the bowl whenever you clobber your olives. Then once more, the Cuisinart and a separate mini chopper would take up much less cupboard area than the Breville and its accent field.
While making quiche, I discovered virtually no distinction within the dough making, every machine simply doing its job the place lesser fashions may pressure. When it got here to slicing leeks, I’ve gotta say the Cuisinart did a greater job with extra even slices, pulling meals in additional persistently. In phrases of completed dishes, it was turning into clear that there was little or no distinction between the 2 processors.
“This tastes professional,” Elisabeth stated consuming a slice of 1 quiche, a praise she’s by no means bestowed on me.
“I think this is the best quiche I’ve ever had,” my sister stated, consuming a slice of the opposite.
Next, I made a type of “vegetable-medley” sauerkraut, utilizing a head of cabbage, an onion, and a pair different vegetable scraps I scrounged within the fridge. Here, each processors have been supremely assured, succesful machines.
I sped on, making hummus, artichoke dip, fast pickles, deviled eggs, and extra of that mushroom and celery salad.
“This is a high point for celery,” Elisabeth stated, holding up a slice from her salad.
Making peanut butter, each machines have been assured, the Breville ending it a bit sooner. Mostly although, it struck me that watching the peanutty part modifications in every machine—nutty, chunky, agency, easy, then polished—in some way made me consider the peanut butter levels of grief.
Buttermilk biscuits emerged from the oven beautiful, heat, and so related that after I had one in all every machine’s closing product, I went again for a 3rd biscuit and simply grabbed one from the closest cooling rack.
As a closing check, I made pizza dough, a blender-buster of a recipe the place the gluten within the flour works to tug any machine to a halt. If any check might declare a transparent victor this—maybe adopted by a possible tie-breaking double batch—can be the one.
Of course, neither machine struggled with the dry elements, however the addition of ice water set them off on separate paths. The barely wider bowl of the Breville labored in its favor, mixing about as evenly as these items get. The Cuisinart was much less even out of the gate, a mass of not-fully-mixed dough forming like a snowdrift on one aspect of the bowl, the blades digging away at it comically like a tiny, diligent rabbit. After a 10-minute relaxation, all that was left was to include a tablespoon of oil and a little bit of salt for 30 to 60 seconds till the dough fashioned a sticky ball.
Elegant actually is not an choice with a one-pound mass of meals flopping round in a bowl, however the Cuisinart did simply wonderful right here, and I finished each machines on the early aspect to verify I did not overdo issues. It turned out that the Cuisinart was achieved and I wished to present the Breville just a few extra seconds, however the dough stated “no.” Like the bizarre pink goop used to briefly comprise the Hulk onscreen again in 2003 (Eric Bana!), the dough gripped the Breville’s blade and the machine might barely push it one other quarter flip across the bowl. I pulled the dough from every processor, kneaded them into balls, caught them in containers, and tucked them into the fridge. Neither machine deserved to face the indignity of a double batch.
Where did that depart me? It was a query I deliberate to ponder over pizza.
First and foremost, it meant that I had two unbelievable meals processors on my countertop. For each recipe I cooked, each machines have been an absolute pleasure to make use of: highly effective, assured, and nicely designed. The Breville has extra energy, however the Cuisinart’s engineering saved it buying and selling punches in each check.
I might definitely go down the tit-for-tat route for a spell. The Breville’s bowl is nicer, the Cuisinart’s paddle-style buttons simpler to function. The Breville’s slicing blade is adjustable, whereas every part however the Cuisinart’s base can go within the dishwasher (oddly, the Sous Chef’s pusher cannot). The Breville can typically get a bit rattle-y, however it chops some meals a bit extra uniformly. It additionally comes with an enormous field of accent blades, a few which can by no means see use in your house, whereas the Cuisinart demonstrated that three blades—chopping, slicing and grating—are most likely lots for most folk, a sage transfer by their Department for the Elimination of Doodads. Then once more, at the very least the Breville comes with a blade field; inexplicably, the Cuisinart doesn’t. Also, I’ve stated it earlier than, however Breville’s wall plug—with an easy-pull ring constructed into the plug head—is the cleverest on the planet and each tools producer ought to pay them royalties and use their design eternally and ever, amen.
What I did love in regards to the Breville that is not an choice within the Cuisinart was the detachable mini bowl, which made smaller duties—and particularly mayonnaise—a breeze. One evening, I made a salsa as a result of I had somewhat bowl of cherry tomatoes kicking round, and spooned a few of the sauce atop some heavenly, pillowy breakfast tacos within the morning. The mini bowl additionally has the complete 1,200 watts of the machine, making “grating” Parmesan chunks simple peasy. Stand-alone mini choppers are likely to have lower than 1 / 4 of that energy.
The Breville additionally prices twice as a lot because the Cuisinart, which is the place issues get sophisticated, or in my case, they turned somewhat clearer.
So here is my plan: Sometime quickly, I’m going to quietly retire the PowerBlend Duet. I’m placing a Cuisinart on my birthday want listing (Elisabeth just lately discovered one on sale for $115!) together with a $15 blade case. I’ll additionally maintain an eye fixed out for offers on a mini chopper for smaller jobs. But if I ended up with a Breville, I’d be simply as joyful. Whichever method, these are two unbelievable kitchen instruments.
Food author Joe Ray (@joe_diner) is a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of The Year, a restaurant critic, and creator of “Sea and Smoke” with chef Blaine Wetzel.