Kitchen Equipment And Culinary Techniques: Cooking With Slow Cookers and Crock Pots
Culinary Basics - Slow Cookers and Crock Pots
Whether you call them slow cookers or crock pots, this is one essential utensil you will want to have in your culinary basics toolkit!
I have had many and various kinds over the years but at the moment, I have the All-Clad 6.5 quart pictured here and I absolutely love it. Even though it was a bit on the spendy side, I had various coupons and discounts and ended up getting it for around $129 at Macy's.
What I did not realize is that they came out with an even better one and if I'd known about that one, I would have definitely spent the extra money on it!
Using Slow Cookers and Crock Pots
Most people remember crock pots from the early days when we all used them to make up a pot of chili while we were at work that was ready by the time the gang all piled through the door after a long day of school, activities, sports, etc.
Well, the slow cooker of today is much more versatile and has many, many uses for the purposes of applying culinary basics.
I've used my slow cookers since I was in my 20's because it is an easy way to make food ahead - something that is vital if you are as busy as I tend to be.
Even though I work at home, taking the time to start a soup or stew, a roast chicken or even bread pudding can be an annoying task for me because usually I start it, go back to my office and forget about it! In the case of regular cooking on the stove top or the oven, this is not a good thing! However, I have always found that the slow cooker or crock pot allows me to get my meals started but then while they are leisurely cooking and simmering away, I'm free to finish my job or mush the dogs or go for a walk!
All cookers are not created equal and I have found that to be true over the years. I have had many different models and brand names - some of them cooked so slow you could leave a roast in it for a day and a half and it would still be cooking!
Some of the slow cookers I've had cook so hot and so fast that I never leave them on overnight or if I wanted to leave for a minute! They seem on the verge of bursting into flame because the temperature is so high. I actually purchased 2 of the same kind and they both ran just as hot.
The most important thing about slow cookers is to know your pot! This particular brand is a Rival crock pot and I still have both of them. I just have to be careful not to overcook foods and always run them on low. I use them to do roast chicken, a small turkey breast or roasts if I need to shorten my cooking time. I've also done a ham in those and they worked great.
The Rival crock pots that I have are large in size and for that reason, I've always kept them. They are nice if I'm doing a party and I need to cook several meats at the same time for sandwiches or dinner. The Rival crock pots also do not require water for chicken or meat to be roasting in them, whereas the All-Clad does.
What I love about the All-Clad is that it is huge for my purposes. It also cooks 'just right'. Not too hot and not too cold. I have tried everything from tapioca pudding to roasted chicken in it and everything always turns out perfectly done.
The only complaint I've ever had about the All-Clad was that it did not come with an instruction manual or 'recipes' per se. It had the basics on how to care for it and clean it, what not to do, etc. but no real recipes or ideas. I like having those just to make sure you're using it properly, as in roasting a chicken for instance.
While I could pretty much find recipes left and right to use in the crock pot, which I did, when I gave it to my mother, who doesn't use the Internet at all (gasp) and who doesn't have 200+ cookbooks like I have (double gasp), she had to pretty much trial-and-error to get the groove going on how to best use it.
What To Do in Slow Cookers
I use my slow cookers a lot. Here are some of the ways I find to use them:
- I make our lunch meat - I cook/roast either a chicken or a small turkey breast or a half breast
- I do a small beef roast
- I cook a bone-in ham then slice paper thin and freeze
- I make large batches of minestrone, navy bean soup, veal stew, beef stew, or chicken noodle or chicken rice soup, then freeze portions in freezer containers. There is always lunch or a quick supper available
- I cook up an enchiladas or spaghetti casserole - divide into freezer bags or containers, label and freeze for a quick and easy meal
- I use my crock pot all the time for putting together meatloaf and dinner entrees - all I have to do is add the ingredients and then finish it off in the evening with a salad or side dish
- If I'm having a get-together and want to have a chowder (German sausage chowder) I cook part of it on the stove top and then transfer it to the crock pot and it is ready all evening long. We had this on New Year's Eve with fresh biscuits and it was marvelous!
- If I'm planning a Super Bowl party or a big get-together where I might be featuring slider roll type sandwiches, I have 3 crock pots going overnight or over the course of a day and a half - one with pulled pork (shoulder roast flavored with root beer), one with beef (cooked in beer for pulled beef or BBQ beef sandwiches), and one with chicken roasting in Marsala wine (chicken sandwiches)
- I also have 3 or 4 mini crock pots that I use routinely for dips - this keeps a dip nice and warm. I usually have 1 cheese, 1 artichoke and 1 bean dip all going at once. (They have a great little triple crock pot at Costco I've had my eye on!)
- If I have a large crowd coming and want a simple dessert, I make a batch of tapioca pudding or rice pudding in the crock pot - no fuss and it's delicious right from the crock!
- Or I do up a delicious chocolate cake in the crock pot
- Or a bread pudding recipe
- If I want a breakfast that I don't have to fuss with when I get up in the morning or maybe I'd rather sleep in a bit, I put on oatmeal in the crock pot with apples or a breakfast casserole with eggs. All I have to do is add toast in the morning and I'm done
Mouth Watering Recipes for the Slow Cooker
The possibilities are about endless! I have made these things so far and still going:
- Stuffed Cabbage
- Meatloaf wrapped in foil
- Soup stocks of all kinds
- Various and sundry soups - any kind
- Every imagineable kind of stew
- Pulled pork (flavored with rootbeer)
- Roast beef - rib roast
- Pot Roast
- Roasted chicken or small turkey breast
- Stuffed turkey breast
- Swiss steak
- Sweet and sour meatballs
- Enchilada casserole
- Spaghetti of many varities
- BBQ Beef for sandwiches
- Corned beef and cabbage
- Pork roast
- Scalloped potatoes
- Roasted ham
- Baby back ribs in peach sauce
- Chicken cacciatore
- Baked beans
- Chicken wings
- Mashed potatoes
- Bread pudding
- Chocolate cake
- Cheese dips
- Rancho beans
- Apple butter
- Egg casseroles
- Corn bread
As you can see, there is not too much that can't be made in a slow cooker or a crock pot! The sky's the limit. All you need is a recipe or use your imagination. There are literally thousands on the internet or see many of the fine cookbooks listed.
Summing Up Slow Cookers and Crock Pots
As you can see, crock pots and slow cookers get a workout at my house! I like to do things the most efficient way possible and having a slow cooker or a crock pot just makes my life that much easier but still allows me to make delicious meals from healthy recipes.
I improvise a lot. I have a sense about what will work in what or in what form and I just experiment. I've not had anything really go wrong on me yet. I find the crock pot an invaluable part of my culinary basics simply because I am so busy.
It is also a wonderful utensil to have when the temperatures are 90-100 and I want to cook baby back ribs! I only have to prepare my peach sauce and set them to cooking. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth version of a popular favorite.
That's the other most notable thing about slow cooking - because it is slow cooking, you can almost guarantee that the end result will be tender and delicious.
My only wish was that I had seen the other All-Clad before I bought mine. We bought the Williams and Sonoma version for our daughter when she got married last summer. The insert to the crock pot is removable like mine but the insert for this model goes on the stove top. You can braise or sear meats, create a roux, etc. before you put the insert into the crock pot and begin to cook.
Both are programmable and both are stainless steel. They are a beautiful addition to your kitchen counter as well as one of the most useful utensils in my kitchen!
All-Clad Slow Cooker
Using a Slow Cooker
All American Pot Roast Slow Cooker Style
Five Great Slow-Cooker Recipes
Great Sources for Crock Pot and Slow Cooker Recipes
- Booking Mama: Review: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook
- Fix-It And Forget-It 5-Ingredient Favorites: Comforting Slow-Cooker Recipes by Good, Phyllis Pellman
Fix-It And Forget-It 5-Ingredient Favorites: Comforting Slow-Cooker Recipes, So who has time to prepare food these days? We time-starved cooks need recipes that are guaranteed to be--Quick to fix Easy for anyone to make whether youre a cook or not D
- Crock Pot Recipes, Slow Cooker Favorites, CDKitchen Recipes
Over 4200 crock pot (slow cooker) recipes including entrees, soups and stews, beverages and even desserts! Visit CDKitchen's main recipe database of 100000 recipes for all your other recipe needs.
- How to Use a Crockpot - Slow Cooker Tips and Crockpot Tips Cooking Lessons 101 - Crock-pot Hints Tip
Learn the basics of using a crockpot or slowcooker. Crockpot and slow cooker recipes and tips in a lesson format.
- Crockpot Recipes - More than 1400 Crockpot Recipes for the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker
The crockpot recipes index has over 1400 recipes for appetizers, beef, ground beef, chicken and turkey, pork, desserts, vegetables. Also dessert and cheesecake recipes for the Crock Pot or slow cooker.
- CrockPot Cooking
Recipes for your CrockPot. You simply place the ingredients in the CrockPot, plug it in, and turn it on. A delicious homemade meal ready in one pot.
- Williams and Sonoma
- Betty Crocker Slow Cooker Recipes
- Macys All-Clad Slow Cooker
More Hubs on Crock Pot Cooking
- Crock Pot in the kitchen: A short history.
The Rival Crock Pot is to the history of home kitchen slow-cooking what Walt Disney is to the history of family theme parks. Since 1970, the Crock Pot has been making meal preparation so much easier for...
- Hearty Vegetable Stew, Crock Pot Recipe
I think the best part about cold weather is the abundance of soup and stew recipes. This vegetable stew is truly hearty. The best part, though, is that it is easy to make (thanks to the crock pot). 2...
- Easy and Inexpensive Crock-Pot Meals
My husband is a frustrating man. Aren't they all, you might say. Mine is not much of a communicator, but I have learned over the last ten years, that he likes dinner ready when he gets home. I have not...
- Adapting Your Recipes For The Crock Pot
Now that you've finely taken that Crock Pot you got last Christmas out of the box and set it out on the kitchen counter I bet you've wondered if you can adapt all your favorite recipes to the crock pot....
- Crock Pot Recipes For You
Yes Crock Pots can really help you out greatly and if you find a crock pot recipe or crock pot recipes you like on this hub page please feel free to post a comment below. My situation is not at all unique. I...
- WEIRD CROCK POT RECIPES: Some of the more unusual sl...
I am a recent inductee into the world of Crock Pot cooking. Even before I started playing around with my slow cooker I was aware of how popular slow cooking really is. The fans of the Rival Crock Pot are...
- Crock Pot Chili Con Carne Recipe
I am a huge fan of chili and collect chili con carne recipes as a result. I came up with a great combination of flavors by experimenting with several easy chili con carne recipes. Here is a crock pot chili...
- What are some good crock pot recipes for a work at h...
Crock Pots (now called by the generic term
- How to Make Crock-Pot Pulled Pork Barbecue
This recipe uses a Crock-pot to simulate slow-roasted pit barbecue. The slow cooker can turn a Boston butt or shoulder roast into juicy pulled pork sandwiches while you are at work. This recipe for pulled...
- Rival Crock Pot Tips
Size does matter, and being part-specific could save you money - and frustration.
More by this Author
Bread pudding with whiskey sauce recipe. Quick and easy bread pudding recipe.
Learn how to use your food processor to do all kinds of cooking. They are not just for blending!
- EDITOR'S CHOICE2
I learned the hard way not to put an ice pack directly on my skin. Here's how to treat ice burns quickly, and how to avoid them as well.