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Old 05-14-2010, 08:56 AM   #1
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Why should I use my slow cooker?

We had a slow cooker as a wedding present about 8 1/2 years ago and I have only used it once. It is a largish oval one. Why should I actually use it? Is it really any different that just simmering something in a casserole on the hob or in the oven? Is it going to use less electricity? I just can't figure out why it would be better that cooking the ol'normal way!

Any tips therefore much appreciated!


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Old 05-14-2010, 09:30 AM   #2
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It's a set it and forget it appliance. "Shouldn't" have to worry about fire, can be left alone, etc.

We don't use ours much either, kinda nice for cheese dip, post roast, chili, but I can't say we use it for all those anyway.

We probably use it more if we are going to someones house and need to keep something warm.

I used it to make chili once, was kinda nice since I don't have a stove in my shop/office.

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Old 05-14-2010, 09:37 AM   #3
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They are great to use when you want to come home to a dinner that is ready to eat without you having to do anything. You set it up before you leave the house and when you come home you open the door and smell your dinner waiting for you. All you need to do is serve it.
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Old 05-14-2010, 09:42 AM   #4
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Just as BigAl and GB said, it's a set and forget convenient way for a working person to cook.

I use mine for chili, soups (I make homemade soup about twice a month), stews (it's perfect for a great beef stew), and for one or two person size roast that you want to braise.

I might suggest that you pick up an inexpensive book on Crock Pot Cookery and give a few recipes a try. I think the more often that you use it, the more you will come to appreciate it as a useful kitchen tool.
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:12 AM   #5
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besides ease of use, crock pots are especially good for braised dishes. so any recipe that calls for a long braise like pot roasts or other one pot meals are perfectly suited for the crock pot. i even like to trim away the fat on a pork shoulder and make pulled pork with it. it's not the same as real bbq, but with a little liquid smoke and bbq sauce, it's a near second.
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:13 AM   #6
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Thanks for the tips so far! Do you have a link to that cheese dip recipe BigAl?

So with something like soup or chilli you still have to brown the mince and onions and stuff but then just stick it in with the tomatoe sauce to 'cook in'? Is it best to cook everything on the low setting? Would the sauce thicken up enough? I mean the steam can't evaporate with the lid on can it?

Sorry for all the questions but I really want to get the hang of it. It seems such a waste that it's just sitting there in the box
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Old 05-14-2010, 10:46 AM   #7
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For something like chili, the only extra cooking I do is to brown the beef and or pork. I don't saute my onions, but you could in the same skillet after the meat is browned. Everything else goes straight into the crock pot. With my brand (West Bend) "Hi" means a medium-low simmer. "Lo" is a warm setting.

Many times, a long simmer will produce a thickened sauce from the breaking down of tomatoes, potatoes, beans or whatever it is that you're cooking. Yes, it thickens even with the lid on it. And don't be sorry about your questions. Friends help friends!
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:26 AM   #8
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Here's a tried-&-true favorite around here that doesn't require any "pre-cooking" (I HATE to have to do any pre-cooking for a crockpot recipe - for me that defeats the purpose). The only thing extra you have to do is boil the egg noodles for serving.

Breezy Crockpot Chicken and Noodles

One package boneless skinless chicken thighs - OR - one package
boneless skinless chicken breasts (in my opinion, the thighs produce a better & moister end product, but breast pieces work if you’re a white-meat-only fan)
½ a stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 can Campbell’s “Golden Mushroom” condensed soup
1 small packet dry Italian dressing mix
4 oz. container “Chive and Onion” cream cheese
¾ Campbell soup can full of dry white wine (Chablis, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc)
One 8-ounce package white button mushrooms, rinsed & halved
Chopped/minced fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add melted butter, soup, wine, Italian dressing mix, & cream cheese to crockpot. Whisk until relatively smooth. Stir in mushrooms & nestle whole chicken pieces into sauce, spooning a little sauce on top of chicken. Cook on
low for four (4) hours (no peeking!). Remove chicken, shred or cut into bite-size pieces, & return to pot. Serve over cooked egg noodles garnished with parsley & freshly ground black pepper.
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Old 05-14-2010, 12:06 PM   #9
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It omits less heat than a stove or oven does. However, it's not the healthiest way to cook meats as it cooks in all the fat.
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:02 PM   #10
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I'm not trying to hijack this post but what about size and brand of slow cooker? Should we go big and not be concerned about only filling half way? This is one of those items that doesn't seem to get that much attention and you really don't hear that much about brand names. I know All-Clad makes a great one but I'm not willing to shell out a couple hundred bucks for one.

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