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Breville Slow Cooker Review
Most of us would love to go back to the days where we came in to our dinners made at the end of a long day at work. For the most-part, this is merely a dream, particularly in today's fast paced, career driven world- the evening meal usually consists of some microwave meal that cooks while we shower before bed. But, it doesn't have to be that way!!! With a slow cooker, even those who live on their own can come home to a well balanced, tasty, home cooked meal.
I recently invested in a Breville VTP183 3.5L slow cooker as a way for myself and my partner to have a tasty mid week dinner, with minimal effort. As i finish work at 8pm, the evenings are precious, so as little time spent cooking as possible is best.
Can check food without loosing heat
Easy clean, Removable, Even heat distribution
Portable while cooking
Changes cooking time/ keep warm function
One of the main concerns when we considered buying this device was safety. I have heard of too many electrical fires due to blown fuses from washing machines and other electrical items left on through the night or when the house was empty.
On researching this- via lots of online searching- I found that there were no cases that I could find of a slow cooker causing a fire when it was properly maintained. I also discovered that these cookers were designed to automatically shut off if they overheated, and as a backup, the fuse would break the circuit.
Most of the safety instructions that come with the slow cooker are quite simple, and common sense would instruct you not to do them before anything else- i.e do not submerge in water when connected to electricity- ya think? And obviously, it gets hot. Steam will escape when removing the lid, so be careful!
One thing to keep in mind though, which was a surprise to me, is that you can overfill your cooker. Who knew the top of the pot was not the maximum! When it comes to filling, 2/3 of capacity is plenty. I have found that even putting over this slightly can cause the ingredients to boil over, and trickle down into the metal behind the ceramic pot. This is ok for the odd bit of sauce, but I would hate to try it with a lot of liquid over a day. Stick to the limits!
Also be aware that you do have to alter your recipes in terms of liquid, as the liquid is trapped within the cooker, you only really need to use half the amount specified in the recipe. Also for flavour: avoid using milk or cream, unless added near the end, as these have a tendency to split.
Other than those tiny concerns the slow cooker is safe and easy to use.
Do you think slow cookers are safe?
While pre-cooking or browning meat isn't necessary, I would recommend it if you have the time, particularly with mince dishes. With other meat such as chicken or cubed beef, there isn't much difference. When pre-cooking, it gives the meat a better look and feel to when slow cooked alone. Browning the meat seals it and locks in the flavour, which may be lost if slow cooking.
That being said, there are no health risks if you choose not to brown first of all, and any recipes where I have been particularly rushed have turned out absolutely fine! Just be sure to ensure all meat products are thoroughly defrosted before using in the slow cooker to ensure a consistent temperature and even cooking.
Cooking Times Conversion
50 mins- 3 hrs
One thing to keep in mind with any slow cooker, is that the food will cook slowly. Do not invest in this if you expect a meal to be ready an hour after you put it on, even though you used the high setting.
Be particularly aware that any vegetables will take particularly long to cook. In particular, starchy veggies such as potatoes will take an age, so be prepared for this!!
Most vegetables should be cut into small bite sized pieces and placed near to the sides and as close to the bottom of the ceramic pot as possible. Any meat can then be placed on top of the vegetables- this has two functions- it cooks the veggies well, while preventing the meat from sticking or burning on the sides of the ceramic cooking pot. Carrots should be peeled and placed where they will be completely covered by liquid. Any frozen vegetables should be thawed before adding to other foods in your slow cooker- I usually pop them in the microwave for a few minutes while I prepare the rest of the food.
I'm glad to say the Breville slow cooker only had 3 settings, so was super easy to navigate. You change the setting by turning the dial on the front. Settings are as follows:
LOW: Gently simmers the food for an extended period of time. It can also be used as a keep warm function. This setting is perfect for cheaper cuts of red meat.
HIGH: The high setting will cook food in half the time required for the low setting. The food will boil on the high setting and it may be necessary to add extra liquid depending on the recipe and cooking time. Food should be occasionally monitored and stirred to avoid burning at the sides when using the high setting. Use this setting for paler meats such as chicken.
AUTO: The auto setting will first cook on a high temperature and then reduce automatically to a lower heat setting. This setting is ideal for slow cooking meals overnight or when you are away for most of the day.
Best to use for?
I would recommend using this slow cooker for anything that has a stock or a sauce. You can use if for roasting if you like, but I prefer to keep it simple!
While the Breville Slow cooker is a small model, I find it fits perfectly with my needs. If I was upsizing my family, I may have to consider another simply because the fact that I can fill up-to 2/3 of the volume maximum means I am not really getting the full potential available. This is something I will look at in future, if need be.
As a slow cooker, it is very easy to use, and the removable ceramic pot makes for easy cleaning- although there are some occasions where a little bit of the food spills under the ceramic pot and leaves a staining on the metal underneath, which you cannot clean fully, so must resort to a damp cloth.
One thing I noticed about this model is that it had a tendency to burn at the back, left side when on the High setting for any length of time- this resulted in me having to open the lid and stir. That being said, it wasn't a massive issue, and the Auto function meant I could go to work, safe in the knowledge that my food wouldn't be burning.
All in all, I think that the Breville slow cooker has definitely bought me back some time in the evenings, and delivers a tasty, wholesome meal, every time. I would absolutely recommend it if you want some good home cooking back in your life, with minimal effort.
© 2014 Lynsey Harte