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Sam is a trusted home cook.
IMHO none. I think they suck a lot of the flavor out of meats. Mostly because they're used far too long cooking them.
Given that..you might want to look at ones that have a timer function that can shift from high to warm after a set time.
Kristen is the Creative Director of Food52
My mom loves hers: http://www.williams-sonoma...
She balked at the price when my dad bought it, having fed us for years using a much cheaper model, but now she's hooked on browning stuff like pot roasts directly in the insert on the stovetop, then plunking it in the machine without having to wash another pot (or suffer gray meat).
Have to agree with kristin miglore's recommendation of the All-Clad with the cast-aluminum insert. I went through three inexpensive crock-pots within one year because the ceramic insert cracked on the first one, the glass lid broke on the second one and for the third, the darn thing just stopped working! I have had this for two years, use it frequently and aggressively and I've never regretted it!
i would love to have the williams sonoma one above, but couldn't afford it on my student budget! i think being able to cook stove top, but then put it into the slow cooker is fantastic. if settling for a cheaper model, i would say try to find one with a timer to turn it off. i've been pretty happy with this one for the past year: http://www.amazon.com/gp...
Victoria is a Recipe Tester for Food52
I agree with both Kristen + brooklynsam. I've had the All-Clad cast-aluminum insert cooker for nearly three years and love it. Many slow cooker recipes call for browning the meat first, so when the browning happens in the same pot that it gets slow-cooked in, the lovely caramelized flavors don't get lost. I also really like the fact that it has a timer and warming option. Once the set time has finished, it goes onto a warm mode until you get home to turn it off. Granted, it is a little pricey, however definitely pays for itself in taste + handiness over time.
I have a panasonic rice cooker with a slow cooker setting. I love it, since it is not a single task item. It can also bake a cake, which I've never tried. And, it has a warmer function, so I can set it to work in the morning when I leave, and I have rice (or dinner if I throw some veggies in with the rice) when I get home after work.
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