Article: The Necessary Slow Cooker

8 Feb

If there is one appliance that busy families – or really, ANY cook – can NOT do without, it is a slow cooker, or “crock pot”. I can’t begin to tell you how many times having this one simple device in my possession has saved the meal, saved the day, and produced rave reviews. Indeed, the slow cooker is enjoying a renaissance as cooks everywhere rediscover its uses, expand its repertoire, and recall from their youths the meals it’s capable of producing.

The slow cooker can literally be left to its own devices all day long. With a few simple steps performed in the morning before work, school, or errands, it can welcome you in the evening with a home filled with delicious aromas. The time it takes to go from pot to plate with a few simple side dishes is the work of moments – even faster than the time it takes to get through the line at the drive-through of some fast-food joints! And which would you rather have – tender home-made roast beef, or a luke-warm patty of “mystery meat” on a bun?

There is a very simple concept behind the success of the crock pot – meat/veggies + liquid = delicious. It seems the longer the meal is cooked, the better it becomes. It’s almost impossible to “ruin” a meal made in the crock pot! A whole fryer chicken when placed in the crock pot with two cups of broth, cooked on low all day (typically in my household that means from about 7:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night) produces juicy, moist, flavorful meat that falls off the bones. A pot roast seasoned and covered with beef broth and a splash of wine results in the tenderest beef, at the end of the day, you will ever experience. For either recipe, piling a bunch of potatoes and carrots or other veggies in the bottom of the pot before adding the meat will provide a ready-made side dish.  And the broth left over thickens quickly and easily with a few tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in milk, broth, or water.

Absolutely nothing is beyond the capability of the slow cooker – meats, vegetables, soups, stews, casseroles, beverages, desserts – the possibilities are endless. Trust me on this, if you don’t have one, GET YE HENCE THIS MOMENT and purchase one.  They are inexpensive (ranging from $20 to $100 and up depending on the size and amount of “whizzy-bang” capabilities), yet priceless.  The particular model I use is a Rival 6.5 quart, with just three settings – low, high, and off.

There are multiple recipes for the crock pot listed on this site – simply click on the “crock pot” category to the right, and enjoy a fast, easy, delicious meal!

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