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Slow Cookers

Posted by helen 
Slow Cookers
April 02, 2019 10:00AM
I bought my slow cooker some years ago but find it spends more time on the pantry shelf than actually being used.
I think that its because by the time I have browned meat, sweated veg etc.. then I just keep cooking with my oven.
Do you own one and if so what do you use it for most?
Re: Slow Cookers
April 02, 2019 11:14AM
I bought a large one to use at a catering job, where it was very useful to keep a curry hot as part of an In*ian banquet. I'd expected to use it quite a lot at home for stews, but after trying it several times for lamb shanks and shin beef I couldn't be bothered to get it out of the cupboard because I didn't really like the pasty texture of the meat cooked in it. I haven't used it for several years now.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 02, 2019 09:55PM
I use mine a lot - especially when I know I have a heavy workload and can be working till late. I never sweat the vegies or brown the meat - to me that goes against the grain of using a slow cooker. Love corned beef done in the cooker, lamb shanks, uncrumbed pieces of schnitzel, pork pieces, boneless chicken. I just adapt recipes for these meats. I couldn't live without mine - yes it's in a cupboard but it comes out and even during summer.

When we go to the beach for long stays, I take the slow cooker with me. I can throw something in the morning and we have dinner organised, without the fuss of cooking and especially in a strange kitchen with few utensils etc
Re: Slow Cookers
April 02, 2019 10:39PM
Mine gets used for poaching quinces, stewing rhubarb and apples. The low heat ensures that everything keeps it shape when bottled. I waterbath the jars afterwards. I use it for lamb shanks and stews too but do brown the meat and onions etc first.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 02, 2019 11:05PM
Mine lives in a cupboard in the spare bedroom (inadequate kitchen storage) and I use it very rarely. I prefer oven cooking but can appreciate how useful it is in your situation Irene. And I'm delighted with Meganp's info re poaching quinces...will try that very soon!
I can't remember what I last used it for...
Re: Slow Cookers
April 02, 2019 11:32PM
I have a $22 Warehouse brand slow cooker, and the only thing I use it for is pulled pork shoulder, and it is fabulous for that. I tend to not like the texture of meat done in a slow cooker. I bought a really cheap one because I knew I wouldn't use it much, about 4-6 times a year.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 12:55AM
I have had mine for many years and it gets enough use that I wouldn't want to part with it. As with Irene, it gets used in the summer. So often it is too hot to want to turn on the oven or stove top. Definitely lamb shanks, silverside, beef stews, whole chickens flavoured with lemon and honey. I haven't cooked quinces for many years but I do cook rhubarb and apples. Thank you for that suggestion.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 02:10AM
I have a 40 year old crock-pot which is still going strong. The thing about the original crock-pots is that they cook at a lower temperature than the more modern slow cookers.

I use it mainly in the winter and just for certain things eg lamb shanks, pork shoulder, pea and ham soup and it does a nice rice pudding. Like TPANDAV, I'm not a great fan of the texture of some meats cooked this way, eg. corned beef which I always cook in the microwave.

While it has its place I'm not sure if I would bother replacing it when it finally gives up the ghost.


Barbara Anne
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 02:57AM
Barbara Anne, I had an original Ralta CrockPot which I bought in 1976 (they changed their name later to Sunbeam) but sadly it got damaged when my powerpoint 'blew' and damaged the crockpot. Apparently, when I had the power point fixed, we found a mouse had been hanging around the back of the powerpoint and when I plugged in the crockpot and he got electrocuted.

Anyway, I loved my crockpot. I used it for all the reasons mentioned by other slow-cooker lovers plus I cook my dried legumes and grains in bulk (a whole packet at once) in the slow cooker then freezer for instant use when I need them. I have since replaced the crockpot with a Breville Fast/Slow cooker which I haven't used a lot as it's a hassle trying to remember all the fiddly bits and pieces to make it work. I've done a couple of pressure cooker meals, which turned out quite nice, but haven't yet tried the 'slow' function. With winter coming, no doubt that will change.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 03:40AM
My partner bought a slow cooker and he uses it quite often but I've used it only once or twice as I find the flavours get muted or destroyed entirely. For instance lamb shanks done in the oven have beautiful flavour, but done in the slow cooker they hardly have any taste at all.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 06:54AM
I use my crockpot a lot. I have a Breville with the metal insert. You can sear the meat and brown the onions etc in the the crockpot liner then add the other ingredients.Vegetables can be added at the beginning or later. I believe you must sear the meat and brown the onions otherwise the flavour is insipid. Be sure not to add too much liquid as the temperature for the slow cooking does not evaporate liquid to increase the flavour.(As cooking on the stovetop or in the oven does) More liquid comes out of the meat and the vegetables! You do need to add spices or herbs for flavourings. I am not fussed on using meat with bones as I dont like the texture if bones are in the stew. It is also great as a rice cooker and keeps the rice warm when finished cooking. I find it great with just the two of us and always make enough for extra meals which I then freeze down.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 07:00AM
I have a large one that someone gave me, I'm contemplating giving it away. I only use it for corned beef. I also don't like the texture of meat or vege done in it, and find the flavours just become samey and bland. In fact, now that I've posted that I think I'll list it on the local Neighbourly site, it's just taking up room, and it's really too big for just myself and Mr Griz.

I did buy a new one for my son and his fiance, it's one that browns then slow cooks, and was a good size for them. They both prefer soft meats/veges (common among folk with special needs, they often like food that doesn't really need chewing) and it works well for them.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 08:26AM
Interesting Lizrick that you can brown the meat etc in the metal liner and then add other ingredients which makes sense. My oldie has a ceramic liner and lid (which was designed to put straight on the table or even use as a casserole in the oven) so you have to brown the meat in a pan first, which, as Helen alluded to in her original post, means that the point of a slow cooker is lost, as you may as well use the oven.

Lorna, speaking of mice - when we first moved into our current home almost 17 years ago, it had an old banger of an oven - a free-standing Atlas, with the switch panel at the back - which was on the top of our priority list for replacement. However very soon after we gradually became aware of a wafting smell of decomposition. We searched high and low, inside and outside and had almost given up when one of the oven switches started arcing and making a crackly sound. MOH dismantled the switch panel only to discover a very dead mouse. We figured that it had been electrocuted in the first instance but its decomposing and shrinking body had slipped down and had started to arc the switch. Although I realise it's warmth that these little guys are seeking, I cannot imagine how they can squeeze into such small places.

Anyway, back to slow cookers...
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 08:57AM
Am I the only person in the FL world who does not brown their meat etc etc, and enjoys the meat and finds nothing wrong with the texture? Feeling very much a slow cooker pariah here sad smiley
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 09:40AM
Irene I think the browning of meat depends on the dish one is making. The flavour created by browning adds complexity and umami, but there are also delicious meat dishes like Lancashire Hotpot where browning is not necessary or desirable. I love the flavour of unbrowned lamb and make a lamb and vege soup with shoulder chops which doesn't involve any browning at all.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 10:27AM
Irene I tend to brown pretty much everything unless it was a chicken dish and yes Tapandav for some lamb dishes I guess I wouldn't.
I had forgotten that some of the new slow cookers have the browning option too I think.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 11:51AM
Irene, I don't always brown the meat, especially if it is for something such as a curry or a beef stew.
However, I think back to the days when I had a pressure cooker, dishes such as beef stew always tasted better the day after, much the same goes for when I use my crockpot.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 03, 2019 03:36PM
I've heard meat has a weird texture in a slow cooker but I've never tried it. On the rare occasions I cook meat slowly I use my Le Creuset in the oven. I do regularly use my slow cooker though, for steel-cut oats. I love the way I can put them in at night and they're gorgeous in the morning.

Edited to correct "steel-cut oars". LOL! Cat on keyboardsmiling smiley.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/03/2019 03:37PM by CarolynC.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 04, 2019 01:21AM
Irene, I've done it both ways - browned the meat and skipped that step. I've never noticed a taste difference in the end result so now don't bother.
Like you, it is a great holiday home addition. I bought one for the apartment in Canada and come in exhausted from a day of skiing to a warm winter meal.
I think the complaint about the texture results from how long you leave your meat in the slow cooker. A lot of people say they leave it on all day but you wouldn't do that with a casserole in the oven, even if it was on a low heat. And as mentioned, slow cookers on 'low' are much hotter than they used to be. I believe the altered texture of the meat is from overcooking as the heat source around the ceramic liner is no different to that of a ceramic casserole in the oven.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 04, 2019 02:10AM
Actually that's a good point regarding timing Lynette. My cooker has high, low, keep warm settings. I start off with high, then put it on low, and finally leave it on warm. There has been absolutely no difference in meat texture
Re: Slow Cookers
April 08, 2019 11:56AM
Irene, I don’t brown either. Too much like hard work. Janet
Re: Slow Cookers
April 08, 2019 10:32PM
Hubby bought me a fast slow breville cooker, which has turned out to be an expensive rice cooker!! I have used it to make a risotto, which was pretty good. Must try and utilise a little more. Agreed with the muting of flavours not sure why?
Re: Slow Cookers
April 08, 2019 11:31PM
Karen, with winter coming I'm hoping my Breville Fast Slow cooker will come into it's own by being key to producing meat casseroles, corned beef, etc that is meltingly tender. I hope my trust isn't going to be misplaced. Has anyone else got one that they use regularly? How does it work for you? Was is a good buy?
Re: Slow Cookers
April 11, 2019 05:39AM
Mine is a Fast Slow but I must admit I haven't used the browning option or even the pressure cooker aspect of it yet. I really do need to get to grips with the pressure cooker - I used to use one years ago but now I'm intimidated by having to re- master yet another appliance.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 11, 2019 11:59PM
Meganp, thank you! Quinces, slow cooker, done! I feel a quince and frangipane tart coming on.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 12, 2019 01:43AM
Quince and frangipane tart???? OOOOOhh could you pop some in the post for me please Steph. Just a slice or two. I feel a hunger coming on.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 17, 2019 10:44AM
I have the old Ralta one, I hate stews and casseroles cooked in it but it is the most wonderful accessory in my classroom. Every year for longer than I can remember, the children I teach use it to make bread. I can happily leave them to get it on before 9 and it is ready to eat at lunchtime. Nobody is in danger of getting burned or cut so I have no input at all- some loaves are great and some are frisbees and we all learn how to read and measure.
Re: Slow Cookers
April 17, 2019 11:15PM
Oh, Stephanie, I'm envious of you still having your Ralta Crockpot. I sorely miss mine and curse that bloody mouse every time I want to slow cook something!
Re: Slow Cookers
April 20, 2019 10:48AM
There's not many slow cooker recipes I like but I highly recommend this one we found a couple of years ago. We usually use Greenlea premium beef short ribs for it.

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs
¼ cup plain white flour
1 tspn salt
1/4 tspn pepper
1.5kg beef short ribs (bone in)
50g butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup water
¾ cup red wine
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sweet chilli sauce (we use the version with ginger)
2 tbspns tomato sauce
2 tbspns Worcestershire sauce
2 tbspns minced garlic
1 tspn chilli powder
12 small white button mushrooms (about 250g)
2 medium-sized carrots, chopped (or about 15 baby carrots if you have them from the garden!)

Mix flour, s&p together and coat ribs with it. Brown ribs in half the butter in a frying pan. Put ribs in slow cooker. Add remaining butter to frying pan along with onion, water, red wine, brown sugar, sweet chilli sauce, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and chilli powder. Bring to a boil, stirring. Pour over ribs. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. At halfway point (i.e. after 4 hours) add mushrooms and carrots to slow cooker.
Note: After the 8 hours cooking, you can remove the bones prior to plating if wished, and you can also skim the fat off the top of the liquid if you wish. We serve the meat, mushrooms and carrots, and only a little bit of the sauce if desired. The leftover sauce can be used as stock or flavour for other dishes, etc.

Re: Slow Cookers
April 22, 2019 05:39AM
I need to do a slow cooker chicken recipe (using a whole chicken) with canned tomato, olives etc...
My concern is the chicken fat that is released during cooking, will that just mix in the sauce around?
I don't want a greasy sauce.
Any suggestions?
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