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Oh dear... slow cooker arriving today and there's loads of threads on here saying everything tastes bland and samey. Should I send it straight back???

(28 Posts)
IHeartKingThistle Wed 31-Aug-16 00:49:20

I am a good cook. I like strong flavours. Bland and watery does not work for me.

I should send it back and save up for a pressure cooker, shouldn't I?

1frenchfoodie Wed 31-Aug-16 08:16:17

You may have to experiment with liquid volume but there is no reason things should be bland - that depends on the ingredients. I do sear meat first, and if using a fair bit cook up a base of browned onions, carrots and celery I can use for a few different dishes.

Having said this my birthday request s already in for a Instant Pot - pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, rice cooker all in one.

Believeitornot Wed 31-Aug-16 08:17:13

Surely it depends on what you put in....

I cook lovely lamb curries, beef stews etc etc. Just use decent ingredients

Cakescakescakes Wed 31-Aug-16 08:24:32

You only need a tiny amount of liquid. Like about a fifth of what you'd put in normally. I do a lovely pulled pork in mine (the recipe from the She Cooks She Eats blog). I find things don't taste just as nice as if I do them in my cast iron casserole pot in the oven but sometimes the convenience outweighs that. Plenty of seasoning (more than normal) and tiny amounts of liquid are the key.

OpenMe Wed 31-Aug-16 08:30:50

I don't think things turn out quite as well as when they're cooked "properly" but that's the pay off for coming home to a hot meal. I wouldn't bother with it if there was time to cook properly.

The most successful things imo are thing with mince (chilli, bolognaise) where I just throw in all the usual ingredients plus a handful of red lentils to soak up the liquid and curries when I put in the meat, veg, either coconut milk or passatta and spices. Again lentils will help if it's watery or it can be thickened with cornflour.

Not perfect but it is easy and labour saving. I dont see the point of any slow cooker recipie that requires things to be browned etc first.

MackerelOfFact Wed 31-Aug-16 08:43:54

The best things in the slow cooker IMO are things like pulled pork, sticky ribs, brisket, oxtail - tough cuts of meat rubbed with robust seasoning and cooked in a small amount of thick sauce which tenderises beatifully. I think people make the mistake of just using it as a casserole dish and expecting delicious stews, curries, etc and it just ends up as overcooked, watery slop.

Piscivorus Wed 31-Aug-16 08:48:04

I think, like all cooking, it is down to the recipe and your technique. If you throw in chicken breast, veg and stock then you will get a pretty bland, soup-y stew but if you master the minimum amount of liquid you can use, brown meat for some recipes (although I try to avoid that) and use herbs and spices well you can get some great meals.
As others have said, not always as perfect as if you do it the long way but a good hot meal when you come home

cece Wed 31-Aug-16 09:46:16

I love mine. Make stews, do roasts and make cakes in mine.

ShatnersBassoon Wed 31-Aug-16 10:00:25

There is definitely a lot of trial and error. I've made some truly awful things in it, but the success rate increases over time and I've worked out how to avoid making everything come out as soup.

To be honest, I only make a slow cooker meal through necessity. We've never preferred a slow-cookered version of anything. They're brilliantly convenient, but I don't think I could ever impress anyone with what comes out of it.

IHeartKingThistle Wed 31-Aug-16 10:19:04

Ok so all may not be lost then? I'm still not convinced...maybe I need to look at this instant pot! smile

butterfliesandzebras Wed 31-Aug-16 11:57:02

I like mine.

Dishes are only watery if you add too much liquid because you are expecting it to 'simmer down' like it would on a stove. It won't.

Bland vegetables sounds like over cooking to me (I've heard people complain about having to get up at 6am to put food in and then being disappointed in what it tastes like at 7pm... after 13 hours what do they expect!) Most of my meals are closer to 3 hours so the veggies are still nice (exception being some meat only dishes that need a long cook time).

All tasting the same I don't get, unless people are only making stews?? Curry tastes nothing like bolognaise. Pulled pork doesn't taste like chilli or a red wine casserole...

Believeitornot Wed 31-Aug-16 15:12:01

I always do the browning thing first where necessary - because it is handy to do it before I go to work and I prefer leaving the slow cooker on than something in a pot.
It is great for cheaper cuts of meat and overnight cooking.

IHeartKingThistle Wed 31-Aug-16 17:58:29

It has arrived! It is very shiny! Think I'm going to have to keep it!

northender Wed 31-Aug-16 18:06:50

If I'm out all day and want a meal ready when I get in then I use the slow cooker with a timer plug (if it's something that will spoil if cooked for too long). If it's something like bolognese then it's fine on for hours. As others have said it takes getting used to but I love mine.

ThenBellaDidSomethingVeryKind Wed 31-Aug-16 18:49:45

Cakes - just looking at the pulled pork recipe - it sounds amazing! How do you adapt the recipe for a slow cooker?

ThenBellaDidSomethingVeryKind Wed 31-Aug-16 18:50:10

Sorry - cakes not cakes grin

IHeartKingThistle Wed 31-Aug-16 19:02:16

Bella your username nearly made me well up!

Cakescakescakes Wed 31-Aug-16 19:12:24

I made up the cooking liquid just by combining all the recipe ingredients then out the pork in the slow cooker and poured the cooking brine over it. I give it 6-8 hours depending on the size of the pork shoulder. Then when cooked take t out of the liquid, shred it and combine with the bbq sauce. This is what makes it so good. It is yum! I've done it in the oven too and you do get some nice crispy bits as per the recipe but it is so easy in the slow cooker. Try it on a crusty roll topped with melted cheese mmmmmmm (ps just a tiny bit of lea and perrins in the bbq sauce or it's a bit overkill)

TwinsplusAnotherTwo Thu 01-Sep-16 11:48:41

I have a slow cooker and also hate bland and watery. I hate that many slow cooker 'recipes' (especially on facebook!) seem to be 'throw in meat, add a jar of sauce' - that's not what I want to eat.

I do chilli, bolognese, curries (rendang is good in it), tagines and casseroles that can handle it like beef and olive, chicken, chickpea & chorizo. It's also good for kleftico. I like a ham done in the SC, but dh doesn't as the texture is different - it falls apart rather than slicing.
I've experimented a bit with things like sticky spare ribs, but never got them quite right. I always brown things first - you get better flavour and texture. It's a convenience thing for me - not quite as good as cooking on the hob/oven, but I don't always have the luxury of time.

KoalaDownUnder Thu 01-Sep-16 12:01:59

No, no - don't send it back!

I've just finished eating some amazing soup I made in my slow cooker. It was (roughly):

Lamb shanks
Garlic
Onion
Carrot
Celery
Parsnip
Tinned tomatoes
Beef stock cube
Bay leaves
Soup mix (dried pulses)
Kidney beans
Herbs (dried oregano, mixed herds, dried basil)

Some other stuff I've forgotten, but you get the idea. I made a massive slow cooker load of this, and then froze it into 8 or 9 single meals. Had it with seeded sourdough bread with butter. So filling, so delicious - cost me pennies per serve.

Slow cookers are also fab for veg curries (I have a recipe for a divine red lentil dhal), and coconut milk meat curries.

If recipes are coming out bland or watery, you need to reduce the volume of liquid and/or brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker, which helps with depth of flavour.

IHeartKingThistle Thu 01-Sep-16 12:08:57

Thanks for all the ideas! I tried it out yesterday and did lentil dhal. Not watery! Though it did not need all the time the recipe said!

sashh Fri 02-Sep-16 10:30:51

Buy a half shoulder of lamb and put it in the SC with nothing, no liquid, no fat, nothing.

Put on high for about 4 hours and you will be a convert, and shocked at how much fat comes out of the lamb.

gingerbreadmanm Fri 02-Sep-16 10:35:24

my best slow cooker recipe ive done was rice pudding. i just googled for a recipe. was beautiful.

i also do beef brisket in slow cooker. brown beef of first. chop an onion or two.in half. place in slow cooker. add the brisket joint. cover with water and add an oxo cube. cook on low for about 6 - 8 hours. the beef just falls apart and the stock cube really add flavour.

you can then use the water for gravy once cooked.

Buzzardbird Fri 02-Sep-16 10:37:36

Shoulder of lamb is lovely. I drizzle with balsamic and put in a hot oven for 20 mins at the end to get the crispy outside.

WellyMummy Fri 02-Sep-16 10:40:38

Yes send it back! Not because they're bad, I have 2 but have since discovered the Instant Pot which does sooo very much more than just slow cook, brilliant! Risotto in 12 minutes with no stirring!!

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