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Dec 22, 2008 07:39 AM

Are Crockpots Lame?

Santa has offered to bring me a crock pot, but I have to admit I've had an (unfounded perhaps) aversion to them. I haven't eaten much crockpot food in my life, but I have always assumed it all tastes similar - mushy beef stewy. I don't know why I think this, as many things benefit from a low, long cooking.

My main arguments for one are that we purchased a 1/4 cow this fall, and I am now working outside the home part-time and it seems like it would be useful. But, I am curious what other chowhounders think. I have had a now-defunct pressure cooker, but I did find most of the (vegetarian) meals that came out of it tasted similar.

If you do like them and have a cookbook recommendation, I'd appreciate it.

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  1. I love my crockpot! I do all kinds of things in it. I make my homemade stocks in it, process pumpkin for pies, and make soups and chili with it. I've seen recipes for baking cakes and breads, but I haven't tried any yet. I honestly could not live without my crockpot.

    3 Replies
    1. re: northside food

      I finally started using my crock pot after a year for the same reasons as northside--fresh pumpkins and stocks (it scares the in-laws less than having the stove on for a day or so).

      No luck in the meat department, however. All I got was dried out meat suitable for dog biscuits (flavourful tomato soup, though).

      If you're worried that you might not like it, get the smaller, classic Crock Pot to test with instead of one of the enormous ones.

      1. re: Caralien

        Really? I've had great luck with pot roasts, and pulled pork dishes. The trick, I think, is choosing fatty cuts of meat with lots of connective tissue. The melted collagen makes a terrific mouth feel.

        1. re: northside food

          I've done really well with my pork shoulders in the oven (220F for up to 20 hours depending on the size), and my husband might kill me if I were to do it any other way.

          I might try it for a pot roast one more time during the summer, but when it's 13F outside, I have no problem turning the oven on. :)

          FYI: Crock Pot is a brand name of slow cookers

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. There is an excellent Beef short rib recipe that was on America's test kitchen in the early fall - but make it in a slow cooker, not a crockpot and it will taste MUCH better ; )

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bigley9

          Uhhh..."Crockpot" is the brand name of the original slow cooker. Your post makes no sense.

        2. lame? no, some people like them

          something I use, or like? no.

          Mine sits in my basement collecting dust until I have a large party, and I need to keep something warm. I do not use mine to cook, and never will. I have also had food from a crock pot at others homes, and found the food pretty bad. Buy a large stock pot, and you will be a happy.

          different strokes.

          6 Replies
          1. re: swsidejim

            Now, Jim, a while back you said that you'd never say "never"!

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              you are correct, never is a pretty unbending stance, but in the case of preparing a meal, or a stock in a crock pot , I think I am safe with that statement (give me my uncovered stock pot, and hours of time cooking in the kitchen any day). lol

            2. re: swsidejim

              I couldn't agree more. I've had all manner of dishes cooked in crockpots and NONE of them were anything more than pedestrian meals.

              That's just my opinion, so please no dogpiling.

              1. re: Scagnetti

                No dogpiling, but do you think it could be user error? It took me years, closer to a decade, to appreciate what a crockpot can do (and even more important, can't). I mean, my SIL's stove and oven produces terrible food but I'm not blaming the appliance. Ooh, snarky.

                1. re: chowser

                  Hey, it's just not me. I've had plenty of crockpot food made by OTHER people and it's all been mediocre.

                  Also, if you're telling me it's going to take 10 years to "appreciate" a crockpot, then I'm out.

                  1. re: Scagnetti

                    Ooh, sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it was you. I've had terrible crockpot meals made by others. I think people who can't cook tend to gravitate towards things like crockpots because they think it's easy. Throw it all in, add a can of condensed soup and, voila, dinner. That's why almost every crockpot recipe I've seen is pretty bad. It took me 10 years to start using my crockpot, not 10 years of playing around with it. I bought it, tried a few things and hated them all. I put it away for a decade and only the past couple of years started playing with it and discovered it could make a good meal. But, it's not quick and easy. It gives me the option to prep/cook when I have a chance (middle of the day/early in the day) and come home to a hot meal.

            3. I love my slow cooker, I'm using it right now. There are some great ideas at the crockpot ladies website. She has even made curry dishes in her's.
              Most meats I cook, I sear them first. Fatty and cheap cuts of meat work really well.