Author Topic: Slow cooker talk  (Read 4024 times)

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Slow cooker talk
« on: 19 July, 2021, 09:30:43 pm »

I'm thinking of getting a slow cooker. Now I'm working from home, it would be great to be able to start something off in the morning, and then eat minutes after shutting my laptop at the end of the day.

I'm predominantly cooking for one, so I'm thinking a small slow cooker in the 1.5l range[1].

Has anyone experience of slow cookers? any features I should be looking for? any features it's not worth getting?

J

[1] Current top of shopping list is: https://bol.com/nl/nl/p/russell-hobbs-24180-56-slowcooker-chalkboard/9200000082451177/
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ian

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #1 on: 19 July, 2021, 09:44:46 pm »
I'm not sure you need anything fancy, the entire point is turn it on and forget about it. We have a basic one that cost about £15 and has three settings called 1, 2, and 3. Basically, leave whatever you are cooking at number 1 for several hours.

General rules apply, some (many) recipes benefit from browning meat, sauteing the onions etc. beforehand, and green veg benefits from being added towards the end of cooking. You can still overcook things.

Reduce the amount of liquid added, you'll generally get plenty released from the ingredients – often you might need to reduce the sauce on the hob or leave the lid off for an hour or so (turn the setting up).
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Kim

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #2 on: 19 July, 2021, 09:49:18 pm »
I'm not sure you need anything fancy, the entire point is turn it on and forget about it.

Forgetting about it left as an exercise for the reader.  It's generally easier if you can be where the cooking smells aren't.

hellymedic

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #3 on: 19 July, 2021, 09:50:41 pm »
Whatever you decide to get, remember chilli beans MUST be boiled FAST before 10 minutes before slow cooking...

Mrs Pingu

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #4 on: 19 July, 2021, 09:54:43 pm »
Or use tinned ones.
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ian

  • why would any decent person have such thoughts?
Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #5 on: 19 July, 2021, 09:56:06 pm »
Unless you like farting, of course, and are planning on turning professional.
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mmmmartin

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #6 on: 19 July, 2021, 09:57:20 pm »
We have one, it's really useful. Brown the meat by heating in oil containing chopped onions, put in slow cooker with curry sauce, go back six hours later, turn off. Wait a few hours for it to cool down, divide into portions, put in freezer. Dead easy. I choose to turn it on in the shed with the bikes so the kitchen doesn't smell of food (someone else in the house doesn't like that).
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Jaded

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #7 on: 19 July, 2021, 10:16:31 pm »
Not sure about a small one.

We tend to do a big fill, then freeze portions. Certainly brown meat a bit before putting it in. Not a lot of liquid. Having had a on/off one and our current one which has High. Low. Keep warm (and goes to the Keep Warm setting after a programmed time) I'd say that three settings is good.

Kim, as often, speaks sense. There are smells from it.
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quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #8 on: 19 July, 2021, 10:27:17 pm »
Not sure about a small one.

We tend to do a big fill, then freeze portions. Certainly brown meat a bit before putting it in. Not a lot of liquid. Having had a on/off one and our current one which has High. Low. Keep warm (and goes to the Keep Warm setting after a programmed time) I'd say that three settings is good.

After years of cooking for me and 3 friends called freezer, I'm kinda fed up with it. I don't mind it once in a while, but sometimes I just want to cook one meal, for one day and that be the end of it. Today I did a single oven dish chicken, potatoes, and veg, it took just over an hour, and all I have to wash up is the oven dish, the measuring jug, and the plate I ate it off. No having to leave a pot to cool down, and then suddenly remember just after I went to bed, and then have to get up and portion what ever it was I ate into freezer bags. There is a place for batch cooking, and I do still do it, but it's not something I want to do all the time. One of the reasons for thinking a 1.5l slow cooker is that should be enough for today's dinner, and left overs for tomorrow lunch. If I want to cook a big batch of something, I'll use my lovely cast iron casserole pot.

Quote

Kim, as often, speaks sense. There are smells from it.

The way air flow in my flat is setup, air flows to the Kitchen, through it, and out the back window. Which should help.

J
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Jaded

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #9 on: 19 July, 2021, 10:31:53 pm »
I do like the way that, once set up, you know to within 2 hours or so as to when the meal will be readily edible. So no panic about when to eat.
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Gattopardo

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #10 on: 20 July, 2021, 02:23:41 am »
Hello,

Couple of questions.  Do you eat meat? As the most I use a slow cooker for is meat and poultry and soups.  Not sure of any veg that benefits from slow cooking.  But then I'm not that knowledgeable.

But you are right on the dinner and lunch idea.

In the warmer months I rarely use the slow cooker, only for home made chicken stock.

Recently got a second hand instant pot, which is a slow cooker/pressure cooker of sorts.  But you can sear stuff and use a timer.  But they can be expensive so look for second hand, as I got mine for less than £20 but was a US voltage one with the transformer.  You can make meals for one, which I have been doing.  The instant pot has a timer, but for slow cooking it is not necessary.

The instant pot was to get rid of my rice cooker and slow cookers.  We will see what happens in my life.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #11 on: 20 July, 2021, 05:14:16 am »
I agree with ian. Our slow cooker cost £10 from Aldi, I think. It has three settings - High, Low and Warm.

It’s big enough to cook a full dinner for four people. You could probably get away with using it to cook smaller quantities but I would suggest adding extra liquid to the recipe in that case, to avoid the risk of drying out - the benefit of an Instant Pot here is that the lid is sealed so less danger of that. Being sealed probably means the smells won’t be so pervasive either. Though surely the smells are part of the joy of slow cooking?

One of our favourite slow cooker recipes is Chinese style ribs. Fatty cuts of meat work very well in the slow cooker.
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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #12 on: 20 July, 2021, 10:39:48 am »
Obligatory curveball suggestion:
I bought a https://www.yumasia.co.uk/panda-mini-rice-cooker-with-ceramic-bowl at the start of the year.

It has a slow cooker mode which you can set for various durations and, for things like grains when there's a definite end point to the cooking time there's a finish-cooking-in-n-hours function. As well as just rice, I've been using it loads for one-pot rice based dishes with everything chucked in at the same time, cakes, failed attempts at gluten free bread, slow-cooked pasta sauces, steaming veg... A friend uses his daily to have his porridge ready for him when he wakes up.

The things-you-can-cook-in-a-rice-cooker-that-aren't-rice corner of YouTube has been quite a revelation!

It beeps when it's done cooking and will generally then switch to a gentle warming mode. I tend to main meal at lunchtime and it's been great to set up in the morning, not have to worry about whilst I'm working in the attic room, and then be able to grab a meal in the break in video calls.

it's got a 10 min countdown for the last phase of cooking - that's quite useful for knowing when to get cooking any additional meat or veg or to wrap up whatever I'm doing while I wait.

Size is great for me. 1 cup of rice does me for two meals. It's rated for 3.5 cups, so there's scope for scaling up for guests.

There's some steam generation, so I have to pull it forward of the overhanging cupboard.

Cleaning might be a bit more involved than a regular slow cooker, but it's not really onerous.


So, a thumbs up for the general approach, and maybe some things to think about re useful functions that might translate across to your situation.


ian

  • why would any decent person have such thoughts?
Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #13 on: 20 July, 2021, 10:53:08 am »
I'm not sure how small ours is – it's the smallest they had – but I cook for two, and it's fine for that.

Excellent for casseroles and curries, but yes, it's mostly a winter thing. Makes an awesome bolognese or ragu sauce.

The smell of a slow-cooking meal on a winter day is lovely, though it does make me drool well in advance of eating. I usually start it at about 2 pm and then eat at about 10 pm, so that's a lot of drool.
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quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #14 on: 20 July, 2021, 10:55:07 am »
Couple of questions.  Do you eat meat? As the most I use a slow cooker for is meat and poultry and soups.  Not sure of any veg that benefits from slow cooking.  But then I'm not that knowledgeable.

Yes, I am a meat eater.

J
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T42

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #15 on: 20 July, 2021, 02:08:51 pm »
Funnily enough, we just bought a genuwyne Crockpot since we had a gift certificate on the place wot were flogging it. 3.5 litres the thing is. It's sitting on the kitchen table waiting for one of us to feel like trying it.
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ravenbait

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #16 on: 20 July, 2021, 02:44:55 pm »
I've got both a dedicated slow cooker and a Yumasia Bamboo rice cooker. I make a lot of sushi and other rice dishes (see previous comments about RB2 -- the secondary brain in my gut -- being a brat), so prefer to keep the rice cooker for rice, although I'd be prepared to use it for overnight oats or something else that wouldn't leave non-rice aromas in the parts of the cooker that just get wiped rather than washed. If you have a particularly sensitive sense of smell/taste (I do), I wouldn't recommend using an expensive rice cooker as your slow cooker.

We have a big 7L Crockpot, even though there are only two of us. When I bought it, I looked at a bunch of slow cooker recipes first, and some of them use the cooker pot as a bain marie, so it needed to be big enough to put other containers inside it. You can make a small amount of food in a large slow cooker, but you can't fit 4 crème brûlée ramekins in a small one.

The most important thing with the slow cooker is to cut back on added liquid more than you think, and don't be fooled when the ingredients look dry. Do not let them trick you into adding just a half a cup of stock, maybe. You will be left with a soup.

There are few vegetarian recipes that make it worthwhile. Maybe a lentil chilli or some sort of root vegetable tagine. Only if you have complex flavours that need to blend and harmonise. Otherwise, meat dishes work best, although there are a good number of puddings that also do well in a slow cooker. Also, some things do best on High (or 3), some on Medium  or Low. I got myself a book of Slow Cooker recipes, mostly because it goes into some detail about choice of timing and setting. I keep meaning to try it for yoghurt.

Sam

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Gattopardo

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #17 on: 20 July, 2021, 03:35:27 pm »
Oh forgot I have toshiba rc10 jm rice cooker


Bought for the japanese 110v transformer for testing if a technics 1200 deck I got a while ago.  Think it is similar to the thing nikki mentioned.  Not sure how to use it..

Wowbagger

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #18 on: 20 July, 2021, 03:44:27 pm »
We had a very large slow cooker which I used occasionally when I wanted to make industrial quantities of beef stew, about 75% of which went in the freezer for future reference. It cost about £30 and I loved it. It paid for itself very quickly by allowing us to buy cheap cuts of beef (mostly ox cheek) which simply fell apart after about 8 hours' cooking.

Then, when we had the kitchen decorated 2 years ago, we decided to ditch our really useless old gas cooker and switch to an induction model. You get such wonderful control over the heat that we gave our slow cooker to our daughter. My experience with every cooker I had previously owned was that you simply could not turn the gas down to the extent that stuff would cook, without getting a burned patch of stew in the centre of the stockpot's base. That doesn't happen with the induction cooker.
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ravenbait

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #19 on: 20 July, 2021, 03:45:50 pm »
Oh forgot I have toshiba rc10 jm rice cooker

Bought for the japanese 110v transformer for testing if a technics 1200 deck I got a while ago.  Think it is similar to the thing nikki mentioned.  Not sure how to use it..

Looks like one of the small Zojirushi rice cookers, on which my Cook Japan rice cooker (that I had prior to the Yum Asia one) was based.

Do you want to know how to use it? Here's an English manual with a picture of all the buttons: https://manualsbrain.com/en/manuals/780863/?page=4

Sam
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Regulator

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #20 on: 20 July, 2021, 03:56:38 pm »
As jaded says, browning meat before sticking it into the slow cooker improves flavour immensely.

I find it good with tougher meat (I love doing oxtail or lamb shanks in the slow cooker). 

I've also become something of a fan of the pressure cooker as well (although the dog hates the sounds it makes).
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #21 on: 20 July, 2021, 03:57:51 pm »
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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #22 on: 20 July, 2021, 07:42:48 pm »
If you get one, make sure the pot can go onto the stove. Makes browning things, or sweating onions or what ever a lot easier and reduces washing up.
Ours is very simple, no timers or fancy controls, just low, medium and high settings, but it works very well.
A pot roasted lamb joint from there is absolutely gorgeous.
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Gattopardo

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #23 on: 20 July, 2021, 11:50:12 pm »
As jaded says, browning meat before sticking it into the slow cooker improves flavour immensely.

I find it good with tougher meat (I love doing oxtail or lamb shanks in the slow cooker). 

I've also become something of a fan of the pressure cooker as well (although the dog hates the sounds it makes).

Jaded is right, to a point.  And that point is when I start cooking.  Onions and garlic do taste better (in my head) cooked off but in my opinion you need to deglaze the pan, either water or a wine as that makes it taste better in my head.  Also try and use the same fat as the meat going in to the pot.

Regualtor, isn't the point of slow cooking using the tougher cuts of meat.  The oldest toughest mutton comes out as melt in the mouth.

If you get one, make sure the pot can go onto the stove. Makes browning things, or sweating onions or what ever a lot easier and reduces washing up.
Ours is very simple, no timers or fancy controls, just low, medium and high settings, but it works very well.
A pot roasted lamb joint from there is absolutely gorgeous.
Ah like this one https://www.amazon.co.uk/Morphy-Richards-Cooker-460012-Slowcooker/dp/B07B6MZW9F think that vailiant has one similar.

The cook thing is that the pot won't crack as I had a clay slow cooker do that.

But there is really nothing to slow cookers.  Some have low medium and high and some (like mine) have low high and auto settings.  No idea what auto does, think it does the high for a bit and then the low.  But then never needed to use that setting.

If you were closer I would have given you mine.

Gattopardo

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Re: Slow cooker talk
« Reply #24 on: 21 July, 2021, 12:19:39 am »
Oh forgot I have toshiba rc10 jm rice cooker

Bought for the japanese 110v transformer for testing if a technics 1200 deck I got a while ago.  Think it is similar to the thing nikki mentioned.  Not sure how to use it..

Looks like one of the small Zojirushi rice cookers, on which my Cook Japan rice cooker (that I had prior to the Yum Asia one) was based.

Do you want to know how to use it? Here's an English manual with a picture of all the buttons: https://manualsbrain.com/en/manuals/780863/?page=4

Sam

Thank you, I have that manual and have used to cooker to make rice but i did something wrong as the water spilled over.  Not used it since and used my usual rice cooker.

It was fun using google translate live on my phone to see what the buttons do.