Meg is a trusted home cook.
I've never owned a slow cooker. I have done 40 years of dinners in the oven: "slow-and-low" with great success.
I second BigPan's comment. The oven is the original slow cooker. And most of today's ovens have a start and stop feature for timed cooking. Nothing easier. Resist the urge to buy a slow cooker.
If the oven (I agree, btw) is the original slow cooker. What do you call a pressure cooker or rice cooker?
Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking
Third. I love long and slow cooking but have never once wanted a slow cooker.
If you have a pot which seals tightly, you can use a very low oven - slow cookers are designed to retain moisture as well as heating slowly. I would set the oven to at least 225 or 250 - you do want it to eventually get all the way to 212, which it can't do if the oven temp is only at 200.
Why exactly would I want every dish to get to 212F?
I bring the meat containing stews I cook in a low ovento a boil on top of the stove and then put them in a two hundred degree oven.
I have one that I'm often disappointed with. I'd like to be able to set it cooking in the morning and have dinner ready 10 hours later when I get home from work but honestly, very few things really stand up to cooking that long. I'd be glad if it did dried beans well, but it doesn't. They don't seem to hydrate properly at a relatively low temperature, even all day. If you do chicken and some other meats, you have to brown it first in another pan, an annoyance. Sometimes a pot roast turns out well, but other times it manages to be both dried out and greasy. It is invaluable for a chili recipe that I make once or twice a year. It can be useful on a buffet to keep a dish hot, but I could live well without it.
Perhaps you should "upgrade" your slow cokker for better results - they have come a long way baby!
In my experience, slow cookers are great for people who don't have a lot of experience cooking. It seems easier and safer to just throw a chili together in a slow cooker and let it go for hours. Another benifit is that they make great warming trays for buffet or pot-luck style dinners (which is the only time my slow cooker gets used, but I usually cook in the oven and bring the food in a slow cooker)
I don't know if its just a psychological thing or not, but I think slow cooking in the oven produces tastier results.
No, but if you have the storage and you want to be gone during the day, it is nice. Doesn't do anything an oven won't but you can throw something in in the morning and come back at night...so it depends on your lifestyle
"In my experience, slow cookers are great for people who don't have a lot of experience cooking. It seems easier and safer to just throw a chili together in a slow cooker and let it go for hours."
What a misconception!
You may not need a slow cooker, but is great if you're a full-time worker, not a fan of leaving or babysitting the oven/stovetop for hours on end, and cost concious of gas/electric bills. However, my slow cooker has an insert that is stovetop safe for browning proteins and scrapping tasty bits. This time of year I have a full supply of declious beef stews, short ribs, home-made stocks & broths and "slow cooked" red sauce. I store away in the warmer months. FYI - I'm an very experienced home, health conscious cook that uses great ingredients. Small invest for a huge return, if you ask me. I recommend an All-Clad slow cooker. Nay sayers, sorry, I disagree whole heartily.
It's a phychological thang...
I stand corrected. My statement was a "all spheres are circles, not all circles are spheres" type. I know that many great, experienced cooks use them, I was just stating that they are also great for inexperienced cooks because they seem safer. That's my general inductive observation anyway.
I love my slow cooker for making stock and beans. I do not trust leaving an oven on all night or while I am away.
What would happen to an oven that would not happen to a slow cooker? I have left my oven on all night and left it on at home during the day and so far no issues but interested in knowing.
No, especially if you live in a small space (I know what that's like). Although crock pots (just another name for slow cooker) are great as mentioned here for keeping food warm for large groups - mashed potatoes, soup, etc. Dorie Greenspan has a nice story about how, when she first moved to Paris, her kitchen only had two hot plates. She used enameled cast iron pots with lids - since they're "ovens" - to cook pretty much everything. I wouldn't leave the house leaving a pot bubbling away on a hot plate, but you get the point.
Using a slow cooker saves electricity over your oven so that is one advantage, the new slow cookers that you can pull the insert out of and put on the stove top to brown meat and veggies are very cool. I just got the new Breville Risotto maker and it is a very cool mulit function toy. It is a rice cooker, risotto maker, slow cooker, and steamer. And the pot gets hot enough to saute in too. Its not that expensive and if you read a follow the directions it works awesome. I have to say I really like it and plus its just cool to push a button and 30 mins later get risotto with no stirring. I have made chili in it way better than my $20 crockpot.
Gotta check out that risotto maker! Whenever I'm angry or stressed (OFTEN, LOL) making risotto on the stove top is so theraputic.
Oh and I forgot that the risotto maker is smaller and lighter than the slow cooker.
As a fan of slow cooking in my All-Clad, I've yet to make chili or beans in it or used cram of whatever soup! Oy!
Thanks for mentioning that Breville risotto maker, Mlc1977. Surlatable has been pushing it this week, and I was wondering how good a job it did. Automatic risotto is something I might be able to get behind.
Thanks! i'm holding the Breville and All Clad for my possible Xmas list, depending on what the kitchen looks like after our garage sale.
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