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Query: Slow cookers

Our friend and reader Ellen wants to know:

I am considering buying a slow cooker (also known as crock pot, but that sounds odd to me) because I have been told that they are great for winters dishes that are ready when you come home from work.

Do you know anyone who uses these and can advise on how easy they really are ? I don’t want to have to fry up ingredients in the morning really, but not sure if you can dump raw things in and just let it cook them. I also don’t want to end up not using it and regretting the purchase. Do you have any posts or info. on this ?

My own ended up in the shed after the pot broke, but I’ve been eyeing up a new one for ages. I always found them good for meaty dishes but not great for fish, chicken, or veg. Readers, any recommendations?

13 Comments

  1. I considered one but the thought of leaving something turned on all day does not appeal to me.

  2. Slow cookers are great and I miss having one. They’re best for soups and stews and such. You can put everything into it raw but some things will taste better with a bit of pre-browning such as chunks of beef. They’re perfectly safe to leave turned on all day (certainly safer than your oven) and even on low power the food will be at a safe temperature.

    FYI, it’s called a crock-pot for the same reason a vacuum cleaner is called a hoover–it was popularized under that brand name.

  3. I use an Argos Value one for cooking my porridge overnight – waking up to ready to eat creamy porridge every morning!

    I haven’t used it for cooking anything else yet but intend on trying. I think the small Argos one is only €15 so might be a good place to practice and not a huge loss if you hate it.

    I also use a simple plug timer in case I sleep-in, to prevent overcooking disasters!

  4. Thanks for posting this question – am having an internal slow-cooker debate myself! My sister uses hers to cook rice but honestly I’m happy with how my rice turns out cooked in a regular pot so not sure if I would really get the use out of it. I did read on another blog that you can make bread and cakes in it, but think they would turn out the oval shape of the cooker? I also read they are very good value in terms of electricity usage but I think the internal debate will continue a little longer………

  5. Ahhh, I understand the name better now. Thanks 🙂

    I am thinking it is all to do with lifestyle really. If I can be organised enough to plan ahead with food, it would probably be a good addition to the kitchen for winter.

    I might look at cookery books on the subject and if I can find one with enough variety I may invest and see how I get on. The Argos one might be a good starter model.

    Thanks for the feedback. Ellen.

  6. Thanks Ellen, some useful comments on the Cheapeats Facebook page too.

  7. They are meant to be great for using cheaper cuts of meat, something on the bone. So a good way to save money in the long run. My mother aways says the cheaper cuts have the best taste anyway.

  8. I’ve used mine for soups, stews,and porridge. Next project old fashioned rice pudding, like Mama used to make for hours in the oven. They are really great in terms of saving time and money and nothing beats the smell that greets you when you open the door on a dark winter evening.

  9. I love my slow cooker. Great for slow veg curries, and good long tomato sauces (throw them on early, make up some dough, and ignore for a few hours, savage pizza).

  10. Like several others, I’ve been considering getting one of these. I did read in a review somewhere that one aspect of them is that you don’t get that nice charred flavour you get from food done in the oven Just wondering if this is true?

  11. I bought one last Christmas at half price in Argos. It has a huge pot! I have used it for stews and cooked pork and chicken in it too. The food is lovely because of the slow cooking. Need to brown beef first. Great for bolognese too! Highly recommend one. Lots of recipes on the internet, just google slow cooking.

  12. I love my slow cooker I find it is great for any dishes that need time for the flavours to develop like stews and chill is. I also cook chunky soups, lentils etc. One of the best things I made were barbecues shredded pork burgers. I used Donal skeins recipe for the sauce and it was fab, I usually only brown beef before cooking in the slow cooker other meats don’t need the browning process as much