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Tell me about slow cookers. Will getting one change my life?

(26 Posts)
Ilikepie Sun 02-Nov-14 07:28:28

Have been mulling over the idea of asking for a slow cooker for xmas.
But will i use it? we have a small kitchen and i don't want to clutter it up with an appliance that doesn't get much use.
i know nothing really about SCs. I do make a fair number of long-cooked stews and casseroles in the oven, and worry about the electricity bill.
How much do you use yours; is there more to it than just casseroles?

lavendersun Sun 02-Nov-14 07:37:01

I have one, love long cooked stews, but don't like food from the slow cooker. The texture isn't the same. I find I can cook with the same ingredients traditionally and love it vs cooking in the slow cooker and finding it sufferable.

I use it a few times a year when I have to - like if we are out for a long family day in the winter and I have taken something out of the freezer that needs cooking that would otherwise be wasted.

I have started cooking ahead more - putting two big le creusets of different things in the oven at once and freezing three meals/eating one so we always have something cooked if we need it.

I have tried, bought a couple of good cook books for it but I just don't like it enough to use it often.

My parents use theirs all the time though.

Snowmonkey77 Sun 02-Nov-14 08:00:11

Good for slow cooking cheap cuts of meat and best therefore for casseroles but I agree that the results are for some dishes (eg. Soups and Lentil Dal). It's not the same as traditional cooking on the hob. I find them just too watery so I end up using the hob to drive off some of the water at the end to get more flavour. I haven't used mine as much as I expected. On the other hand if you are organised it means you can add the ingredients in the morning and come home to a lovely home cooked meal after a long day - just needs some forward planning and organisation! I would suggest getting one with a programmable timer that starts/stops without you for maximum flexibility.

pregnantpause Sun 02-Nov-14 08:38:53

shock Shocked at the responses.

Mine did literally change my life. I adore it. And use it pretty much all year round. There's loads more than stews and casseroles, and hundreds of recipes out there in books and online. ( though why anyone would do scrambled eggs in one is beyond me)

Hot pot, or any layered sliced potato and meat type dish cooks really well- just shove under the grill for ten minutes when you get home ( or blowtorch the top)

Aubergine or courgette lasagne is lovely slow cooked and again browned at the end

Soup is great in it. Pasta sauces. Dhal and curries.

Lamb marries well with slow cooking- shanks/ half a leg cook beautifully tender and dependent in whats gone in with it very flavourful ( lamb kleftico is a favourite here)

tagines ( yes a stew by another name but a different type of stewwink)

in the summer I do baked potatoes, stuffed red peppers, and salmon chermoula in it.

Mulled wine at Christmas

Honestly there's loads- go for it

A chicken cooks very nicely in one too- but the skin becomes useless and it doesn't look as nice. Never dry though.

dreamingofsun Sun 02-Nov-14 09:54:52

i use mine a lot. you have to adapt the way you cook though and the first 2 posters don't sound as if they have. use practically no liquid - for example, with a bolognese i would use the hob recipe but just the stock cube thing and no water.

i like the fact that i can put on in the morning and leave. i can produce meals for people that want to eat at different times - they just help themselves from the pot. i like that i can just shove a load of ingredients in and stir a couple of times

Isabelleforyourbicycle Sun 02-Nov-14 10:05:56

Have you considered a pressure cooker instead? Makes marvellous stews and casseroles in 20-30 minutes, using very little gas as once pressure is reached, you can turn the heat down. A pressure cooker pot is also versatile to use in the kitchen, without the lid it is basically a big pot!

I'm always amazed pressure cookers aren't more popular, they are very safe to use and economical.

Notbythehaironmychinnychinchin Sun 02-Nov-14 10:07:55

Yes, use much less liquid than you would for any other way of cooking.

I mainly use mine for family gatherings - can stick a curry or chilli on in the morning and just leave it. Also good if I know we're both going to be late at work - coming home to a lovely piping hot stew is brilliant, especially this time of year.

Haven't been much more adventurous than that though.

MrsAtticus Sun 02-Nov-14 10:15:35

I have one and I do find it wonderfully useful, if you've got a busy day out of the house you can bung in the ingredients, switch it on and come home to a house that smells of cooked dinner!
I agree though that meals you cook the normal way don't necessarily transfer that well to the slow cooker, and so it's best to buy a special slow cooker recipe book and play around a bit. I find it great for cooking meat on the bone, it just falls off the bone, chickpeas (dried ones soaked over night) and winter veg like squash.
I tried porridge in it one night and it was like baby food.
I have a tiny kitchen but keep slow cooker in cupboard in dining room and just get it out when I want to use it.
Doesn't use much elec.

question for dreamingofsun i often end up with more liquid than I want. If you use no liquid, do things not stick?

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 02-Nov-14 10:22:31

I use mine all the time. I have a sear and stew so I can sauté off veg and brown meat in the same dish used in the slow cooker.

I'm. Out alot and I find it enables me to have a nice proper meal ready for the kids no matter how busy our day is.

You do have to thicken things up and yes some things are better in the oven BUT offset that against having dinner at a reasonable time and not having to rush around cooking when you get back and it's a very small sacrifice to make.

Plus as it's so easy I male plenty for left overs.

<awaits shit mum award for living off left overs>

A toner plug is also a god send.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 02-Nov-14 10:25:25

Timer plug

Also being able to use cheap cuts like brisket is handy too

dreamingofsun Sun 02-Nov-14 10:52:18

mrsatticus - no. only thing that stuck was porridge which i tried to do overnight once - never again. I sometimes add a tablespoon of water at the end of bolognese to loosen it a bit, but it sticks no more than if you do a casserole in the oven. at the start it will look terrible, you will think this will never work, but try it.

Ilikepie Sun 02-Nov-14 14:58:39

Thank you all. Isabelle, does a pressure cooker make stews and tough cuts all lovely and tender and caramelised in such a short time?

RogueV Sun 02-Nov-14 14:59:46

Don't like the texture of food from my slow cooker either

ilovepowerhoop Sun 02-Nov-14 15:06:28

Prefer the pressure cooker to the slow cooker-it's faster too

Lindor Sun 02-Nov-14 15:12:51

we dumped our slow cooker. Everything came out looking like brown slop. Nobody liked it. Tried lots of different recipes to no avail. Was great for keeping large amounts of chocolate nice and melty. It went to the dump. Might try a pressure cooker though.
My mum used hers almost daily

evelynj Sun 02-Nov-14 15:22:04

I think it's habit forming-like a toastie machine. If you work full time esp it's so much easier to chop veg night before & throw all in in the morn. House smells great & by that stage feels like someone else has done the cooking smile

574ejones Sun 02-Nov-14 18:50:27

I use mine all the time and love roasting beef, chicken and pork in it (wasn't a fan of roast gammon). I make things like Thai Green curry, bolognaise, lasagne, Moroccan meatballs, soup, rice pudding, as well as chocolate brownies and cakes. To be honest the only thing I didn't like was the gammon. I couldn't be without it now.

When I first got mine, I got some slow cooker books from the library to get me started, but just adapt my normal recipes now.

LakeFlyPie Sun 02-Nov-14 20:41:30

I've got a slow cooker and pressure cooker and would recommend the pc over the sc every time.

chocomochi Sun 02-Nov-14 21:49:42

Am surprised not to be using mine as much as I should. But as pp have said, most stuff does taste of mush and is too watery. Having said that, I love doing jacket potatoes in mine (wrap in foil and put them in in the morning); bolognese with minced beef, lentils, veggies; curries. When I have the time, I do prefer the taste of the food from the hob.

OneSkinnyChip Sun 02-Nov-14 21:58:19

I am a recent convert. I recommend the sear and stew one as you can start and finish it on the hob. This is handy when you are getting used to it as if you use too much liquid you can reduce it on the hob for ten minutes while your rice or potatoes are cooking.

You'll get great tips on some of the Facebook slow cooker pages. I make cakes in mine as well as curries, casseroles, stews. They take all the work out of dinner. They are great for mulled wine too smile

mkmjimmy Mon 03-Nov-14 15:04:10

I used slow cooker books and recipes and everything - just came out as slightly odd tasting just a slightly weird taste. Tried to use beer in it to make a beef stew - and what would come out of being slow cooked in the oven as thick and tasty and slightly caramelised just wasn't nice.

Love it for stock though - and also for cooking a shoulder of pork for pulled pork. But that's all its used for. I would quite like a pressure cooker though...

sashh Mon 03-Nov-14 16:49:30

I have 2 and use them at least once a week. Not just for stews but to roast meat - just stick a chicken or leg of lamb in and leave.

As others have said you need to really reduce the liquid you start with, the liquid in an oven or on the ob evaporates, the opposite is true in a sc, the liquid you start with will be at least as much as you end up with, you may have more as liquid cooks out of meat and some veg.

Ilikepie Mon 03-Nov-14 20:38:10

This is really helpful folks, thank you!

willowisp Mon 03-Nov-14 20:43:01

I cooked chilli con cane in mine this weekend..prepared it on the hob & then added to slow cooker for at least 5 hrs on low & was fab. Also butter chicken, chicken mulligatawny, beef stew, lamb stew, sausage casserole + dumplings (they cooked in 20 mins)

None of it slop & all of it tasty & VERY hot. I think they're fab !

willowisp Mon 03-Nov-14 20:44:41

Oh & pulled pork, which was delicious & the DC ate without a fuss.

I also cook the chicken carcass overnight on low for Monday nights casserole <smug>

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