Crockpots. I have said some not so flattering things about them in the past. I like to tend to the stove. However, I am about to go back to work full-time, and the hubby is well, culinarily challenged. I was at the Goodwill and saw one for $4.00 so i snagged it. When I think of crockpot meals, I thing of blobs of goop flavored with condensed soups and packets of salty flavorings. Any ideas for some unique and tasty crockpot creations?
I would suggest that you read some of the countless crock pot/slow cooker threads once you determine the vintage and capacity of the one you bought. Older models run at different temps than newer ones, and the control options very from high/low to multiple settings.
You may also want to search this site for threads on slow cooker versions of specific dishes that interest you.
Personally, I would not leave the house with a *new* one plugged in and turned on, much less a used one with an unknown performance history. At the very least, take it for a spin on several recipes while you are home and keeping tabs on it.
You already have some good suggestions here on slow cookers. I have a thought about the older vs. the newer models. If you are going to just use the cooker at the same temperature for the entire cooking time, I'd use the older model. I have used both the old and newer slow cookers, both the actual Crockpot brand and an off brand (ie. cheap).
I have discovered that with the new slow cookers, warm is low, low is high, and high is really high, when compared to the older slow cookers.
After you use the older model for a while, you might wish to upgrade to one of the newer slow cookers where the heat and time are programmable.
I used to believe the rumor that the new ones were hotter but having bought a couple of new ones, I find that it depends on the model. What I would want from a new one is that timer that turns the crock pot to a warm setting. It's a good idea to test a crock pot to see how it works, with water, before making anything or leaving it.
Tagging on here, rather than start a new post, I'd look for recipes that start w/ searing the meat first and one that doesn't use the condensed soups/instant onion soup mixes (if you don't like them. There are people who do and they love the recipes w/ them--I always feel like I need to add that disclaimer). And, fatty, connective cuts of meat work best, just as they would for braising. But, that also depends on taste because there are plenty of people who like chicken breast w/ cream cheese and salsa put together in a crock pot. General rule of thumb, if you would braise it, then it'll be fine in the crock pot.
Lots of ideas in the homecooking site for slow cookers/crockpots. Here are a couple from the dozens of threads that have healthier options.
Oh my goodness, yes!!! Some of the great things you can make in your crock pot:
*Cakes & quick breads
*Soups & stews
*Main dishes with rice or pasta
I LOVE cooking in my slow cooker, and do it all year long. Give me an idea of what you'd like and I'll post a couple of recipes for you to try out. Have fun!
That's great you're so well versed in slow cooker - cooking! What tips do you have to keep food warm that was cooked in a slow cooker, while travelling? I'm thinking of a stuffing that would have already been made, but been on the warmer (I have the cooks illustrated-rec'd one) for several hours. Then need to drive 2-3 hrs. thanks!
Slow cookers have improved greatly in the last 35 years, and if you're serious about getting good results, you ought at least to consider upgrading. Cooks Illustrated did a comparative equipment test in 2010 and highly recommends the Crock-Pot Touchscreen ($130). Besides precise and even heating, it has features such as a programmable timer and warming mode, so that the crock-pot automatically throttles down on schedule but keeps the food warm until you're ready to serve it. This is the one I'd get if I wanted a slow cooker.
re: John Francis
A little more from Cooks Illustrated.
"Dried-out sauces and blown-out meat correlated with slow cookers that reached 212 degrees. In contrast, machines that never topped 190 degrees yielded watery sauces and tough meat. The best results came from models that cooked between these temperatures.
"We figured temperatures must be gentler on low settings. Actually, most slow cookers hit roughly the same maximums (within 5 degrees), and in two models the temperatures produced at low settings were the same as or higher than those produced at high. The difference was the time they took to get there. On high, most slow cookers heated up in two to three hours; on low, they took five to seven hours.”
Also, "All but three models automatically switched to a warming cycle after a maximum of six hours," not enough for "a French onion soup recipe that needs to simmer on high for 10 hours." The Crock-Pot Touchscreen "can run up to 20 hours, even on high."