Here’s our review of the new Sage The Fast Slow Go, a 12-in-1 electric worktop multi-cooker that steams, pressure cooks, slow cooks, fast cooks, sautés and sous vides, if that is indeed a verb.
This writer is a big fan of Sage products. In fact, to date I can’t ever remember reviewing a duff one. So, when the company offered a product review sample of its new keenly-priced ‘instant pot’ I thought ‘what the hell, may as well give it a go even though I’ve never used one of these things before’. What could possibly go wrong?
Well I’m here to share my experience of using the Fast Slow Go for the past 10 days and it’s had many ups and a few downs. Let me explain.
Sage The Fast Slow Go: price and availability
The brand name Sage is a European subsidiary of small appliance behemoth Breville so if living in the US you'll be looking for the Breville The Fast Slow Go. At the moment it's thin on the ground Stateside but it is available to buy direct from Breville, priced $299.
Sage The Fast Slow Go review: what is an instant pot?
It’s perfectly true to say that Americans like their food and we like their food, too. However, judging by the popularity of the Instant Pot (an actual brand name) in the USA, some consumers clearly prefer skipping the irritating cooking process and cutting straight to the plate. What they want is a multi-tasking kitchen cooker that’s capable of providing a multitude of different dishes in short shrift. Something that plugs into the mains and is quick and easy to use. That’ll be the Instant Pot-style multi-cooker.
A multi-cooker performs a variety of cooking methods from pressure cooking and steaming to sautéing and slow cooking. They are aimed at those who enjoy the health benefits of pressure cooking (food cooked under pressurised steam retains more nutrients, apparently) and those who simply want a quick fix without having to fire up the oven and/or hob. In the case of the Fast Slow Go, some models are also aimed at people who can’t cook for toffee.
According to the history books (well, the internet actually) the multi-cooker was created in 2009 by Canadian chap called Robert Wang. A radical take on the humble hob-top pressure cooker, Wang’s invention was given the brand name Instant Pot and, rather like Hoover, it became the generic term among consumers for every other pot-based multi-cooker on the market.
Sage The Fast Slow Go review: design and features
At 31.3 x 34.7 x 33.3cm, the 6-litre (6.3 quarts) Fast Slow Go is quite a lardy lump on the work top but not ungainly so. Thankfully it’s not too heavy to carry from cupboard to its place of work so that’s okay. Since Sage is a high-end purveyor of quality kitchen gear, you won’t find any cheap plastics here. What you will find is a lot of brushed stainless steel and some expert joinery. In fact, everything is so well put together I suspect that the Fast Slow Go will last for years if cleaned regularly and treated with a bit of respect.
Oh, and fear not about having the roof blown off your kitchen or having your hands boiled by a shot of steam because the Sage’s three-way safety system incorporates a pressure release valve, a safety valve and a safety locking pin to ensure there are no nasty mishaps.
Unlike Sage’s Fast Slow Pro variant which uses the company’s traditional menu interface, this model makes it even easier to use by assigning each function to its own water-proof shortcut button. Hence, the entire front is festooned in dedicated bubble buttons for soup, stock, meat, stew, steam, sauté/sear, legumes, rice, stir-free risotto, sous vide, reduction and, bizarrely, yogurt.
Against my usual principles, I carefully read the manual word for word but only because I actually found the concept of a single machine that’s able to cover so many disciplines a little confusing and even a bit intimidating. I mean how can one machine be able to make a slow-cooked coq au vin one minute and a yogurt the next? Well, it actually turns out that the Fast Slow Go is indeed as easy to use as Sage intended.
Sage The Fast Slow Go review: test results
One of the most appealing things that attracted me to the Sage Fast Slow Go was its apparent ability to make fluffy pressure-cooked rice in about ten minutes. Well I made two batches and the first came out like Thai sticky rice with a load of it stuck to the bottom of the bowl. Now I love sticky rice as it happens but that wasn’t what I was aiming for. So I made another larger batch and stuck to the recipe in the Sage manual like a limpet. The second batch was exactly the same. I then checked You Tube to see how others have got on using a variety of other instant pot machines and saw no results that resembled what I was actually after – flaky rice that you can pour off a spoon like, er, grains of rice. So a bit of a fail in that respect.
My editor Duncan, who also received the same model, tried the risotto setting and his report was a bit more promising. ‘The risotto was verging on creamy’, he said, ‘it certainly wasn't sticky but possibly it was slightly more liquid than I'd ideally like. It was better than expected, put it that way.’ By Duncan’s standards that is effusive praise.
Right, onto the kind of stuff this machine really excels at, namely stews, steaming and pressure cooking of vegetables. When it comes to slow cooking a stew, the Fast Slow Go is in its element. Thankfully I only needed one attempt at producing a bœuf bourguignon because it was bloody excellent first time around. Following the instructions to a T and starting off with the sauté/sear setting to brown the beef, I dropped in the rest of the ingredients, closed the lid, tapped the stew button and a seven hour running time (it can be set from two to 12 hours) and took the dogs for a walk. A long walk. I’ve got to say the result was as good as I’ve ever had, with tender, flaky beef and a gorgeously rich, thick and very more-ish sauce.
That went so well I changed tack the next day and tried some frozen Chinese dumplings that I’d bought from London purveyor Wing Yip. Granted, I wasn’t able to fit as many dumplings on the fairly narrow wire rack as I normally can when using a cheap bamboo steamer but the results were very good indeed – and all without the need for a load of paraphernalia.
At some point I shall try the sous vide setting which locks in the flavour and texture of vacuum-bagged fish using an ultra low temperature setting of around 57˚C. However, doubt I will ever try the yogurt setting, mostly because I can just go to the supermarket and buy some ready-made yogurt instead.
One thing I did notice during my ‘experiments’ was how tricky it was to remove the inner stainless steel bowl when it was hot and full of ingredients. I ended spooning stuff out of the bowl while still in the machine. That’s no big deal, mind, because I was never planning on carrying the inner bowl to the table in the first place. That would just look ridiculous.
In the main, I got on pretty well with this do-it-all one-stop pot but I think I still prefer using standard methods, at least for making rice. However, I can definitely see it being a shoo-in for students, lodgers, people who are too busy to slave over a hob and anyone who’s not especially good at cooking in general.
This machine really does take the guesswork out of cooking – especially timing – while being especially adept at producing a wide variety of dishes without creating a mass of clutter in the process. And that means less washing up.
Sage The Fast Slow Go review: verdict
If you’re into speedy pressurised cooking, steaming and low-and-slow stews and are looking for a competent 12-in-1 cooker that pretty much does everything but make a cup of tea (it probably does that as well), then give this rotund worktop workhorse some serious thought. But perhaps avoid trying to cook rice in it.