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slow cooker advice

(13 Posts)
bessie26 Tue 23-Nov-10 20:10:57

I'm thinking about getting a slow cooker, but have never used one & know nothing about them - any advice/opinions?

My hope is to chuck some ingredients into it in the morning, and come home to a house smelling of yummy food which DD can have for her tea at 5, DH & I can have more for our dinner later on, and any leftovers will go into the freezer for another day (am hoping I can just put these frozen leftovers into the slow cooker another day?)

There will be four of us soon, what's the minimum size I will need to get to feed 2 adults & 2 kiddies?

How many temperature settings are actually necessary?

What's the difference between a slow cooker & a crockpot?

Are they a pain to clean?

Are there any particularly good makes/models? or ones to avoid?

TIA!

dreamingofsun Tue 23-Nov-10 20:43:27

you need high and low so that you can either leave it on for 4hours ish or 6 hours ish - you might want it on low because you are out for the day.

i think a crockpot is something you put in the oven???

you need a removable pot - i soak mine and then put in dishwasher - same as casserole dish

mine is swan, was very cheap and is about 20 years old

its a bit trial and error at first. i don't bother browning anything. some things don't work well eg potatoes and big lumps of root veg as they can stay hard, and you can use normal recipes but much less liquid.

there's loads of threads on here with recipes and advice

i'd go for medium size and i wouldn't put anything frozen in it as it would take too long to heat up and i would be worried about food poisoning - but i'm bit manic about that.

catinthehat2 Tue 23-Nov-10 20:50:33

Get one.
They are not stupidly expensive. Dive in and do stuff that you would casserole or do in a sauucepan eg chilli, curry. THen branch out into whole chickens etc. YOu will get used to it very quickly.

Be VERY mean with liquid, and it's worth just heating up lumpy things like root vegetables in the microwave to start them off

shongololo Tue 23-Nov-10 21:12:04

chop everything up and brown it the night before and chuck it all into the pot. put in fridge.

The following morning, boil the kettle, make stock pour into pot and switch it on. Jobs a good'un.

Ideally you should leave on high for about an hour and then switch on low. It just ensures you have hated the liquid up before you put it on a slow simmer.

The one issue you may have is that the stews etc do not thicken. You may need to remove the meat at the end of the cooking time, transfer to a saucepan and thicken with cornflour or similar.

Shwartz have just introduced a selection of slow cooker packet mixes if you are stuck for ideas - haven't tried them, but good as a last minute option.

Oblomov Tue 23-Nov-10 21:43:54

like others have said there are so many threads. i brown sausgaes in the morning. add chopped veg, stock and toms. off i go to work. put it on low. come home and add dumplings. flippin fab.
same with beef casserole.
so very very easy. you are right. house smeels fab.
so easy.
go for it.

dreamingofsun Tue 23-Nov-10 22:10:50

i just sling it in and don't bother browning. if liquid is too thin mix some cornflour and cold water and add to pot 30 mins or so before end. i tend to use a tin of tomatoes as a basis for the liquid often and add stock cube or curry powder or other flavourings

bessie26 Wed 24-Nov-10 10:28:18

Thanks for your replies!

What size do you have? I will need it to feed 4, but would like it to be able to do a bit more as I like to stock up the freezer.

I'm veggie, so am hoping I wouldn't have to worry (so much) about getting food poisoning putting frozen meals into the slow cooker?

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 10:41:58

think mine is 2.5 litres - we are family of 5.

ref frozen question - i've never put anything frozen in mine so maybe not qualified to say. its almost like cooking with a lightbulb and if you put something that cold in its going to take ages to defrost/cook.

suggest experimenting and don't give up on first go - its quite a different method, but very easy once you get your head round what works/doesn't

BeanInMyBelly Wed 24-Nov-10 13:55:39

If you get one I have a delicious beef or lamb stew recipe that doesn't involve any browning, all just done in the one slow cooker - house smells amazing all day and the recipe feeds 4 very hungry adults, so you should have some leftovers too. As for freezing, I regularly freeze the stew, then defrost in the fridge during the day, and then re heat in a normal pan for about 10-15 mins, taste difference between the freshly cooked and the frozen reheated is negligible (or non-existent according to DH).

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 14:09:48

bean - i'm always looking for new recipes so please share. bessie says she's a vegi so might not work for her.

BeanInMyBelly Wed 24-Nov-10 14:33:55

Well its quite a versatile recipe in that I use a base set of veg, but also add any leftover veg that I have lying about the kitchen.
Beef stew ingredients;
-500g approx diced beef (or pack from supermarket)
-2-3 carrots
-3-6 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks (depending how many I have!)
-2-3 leeks
-2 onions
-600 ml stock
-1 stock cube
-couple bay leaves
-herbs
-s&p
-cornflour
-gravy granules

Lamb stew;
Substitute the beef for lamb (obviously!! grin)
Use (if you can) lamb gravy with a hint of mint, or lamb gravy and add mint.
I use rosemary and thyme herbs

Normally the night before I start the stew off, although I also do it all in the morning if I'm short of time. Tbh, starting it the night before gives it an extra layer of flavour, and only takes 10 mins.
I add the meat, 2 roughly chopped onions, one of the carrots, the stock, all the herbs and stock cube and some salt and pepper. I also add a bit of whatever other veg i've got, (eg; last time it was broccoli). I only add some of the veg because that way the stuff you add on the night is really soft and breaks up, where as the morning ingredients stay chunky and solid, but don't stay hard. Leave overnight on slow heat.
Next morning, add all the veg/pots, stir well and top up with water so that it barely covers the ingredients. I wouldn't say be mean with liquid exactly, but I've found that it doesn't really reduce. I find that if i just cover everything, then thicken later, I get a lovely rich gravy that also makes the stew go further.
Leave again all day on low.
About an hour before thicken using cornflour mixed into a paste with water, then add the gravy granules. Stir in and leave, or add dumplings half an hour before hand. Turn up to high for the last half hour. Serve with chunky fresh bread.
Don't know if i've made that sound any good, but its amazing. Was passed on from my gran who cooked farmhouse meals for 10 hungry boys for decades, and everyone who i've served it to has been more than happy! x

dreamingofsun Wed 24-Nov-10 15:16:11

thanksbeanin. a good meal for the cold weather we're having!

vesela Wed 01-Dec-10 20:10:43

Crockpot is a brand of slow cooker - very widespread in the US, which is why a lot of recipes refer to crockpots.

We got the oval 5.7-litre Crockpot a few weeks ago and are having a great time with it. It takes a bit of trial and error to see how much liquid you need for what.

One thing, though - you can't do beans in it (from everything I've read) - you need to boil them first, or used canned.

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