For this week’s Slow Cooker Thursday entry I’m posting some tips in addition to a recipe. All of my information and recipe are coming from Family Fun.com
To see more Slow Cooker Thursday entries, please visit Sandra over at Diary of a SAHM
|Buying a Slow Cooker|
Removable liner or one-piece unit? A removable stoneware crock makes for simple clean-up and transport and is convenient for storing leftovers or ready-to-be-crocked meals in the fridge. One-piece units reportedly heat up quicker and cook faster.
Round or oval? Long cuts of meat like brisket and whole chickens fit better in an oval crock, although you can often trim most cuts to fit in a round crock. Round crocks might fit better on the counter.
Programmable or manual? A preset timing function lets you set both the heat (high or low) and the cooking time (6 to 10 hours). When the food is done, the unit goes to a warming mode. This is great if you’re going to be away from the kitchen all day or suffer from episodes of amnesia. Manual models, which you simply turn to low or high, generally cost a little less.
What brand? There are many familiar names to choose from (Proctor Silex, Hamilton Beach, West Bend, and, of course, the company that started it all, Rival). According to the ratings on Epinions (epinions.com), you really can’t go wrong with any of them. The device is so simple it seems hard to make a bad one. Prices range from $20 to $60.
But browning is where Natalie Haughton draws the line. “I think that defeats the purpose,” says the author of THE BEST SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK EVER. “My theory is, if you’re using a slow cooker, you want it easy, and you want it finished and ready to serve when the pot is done.”Haughton reserves browning only for ground turkey and ground beef, because this step adds color and prevents the meat from cooking in clumps.
“I feel safe using a slow cooker,” says Todd Chandler, a Web site production supervisor in New York. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving a stove on for a long time, much less when I’m not home.”
|A Stirring History|
“First of all, they’re ugly,” says Lora Brody, author of LORA BRODY PLUGGED IN. “Some people equate it with old-fashioned kinds of things, but not old-fashioned in a good way. Old-fashioned in a sort of dowdy way.” Brody has learned to overlook the slow cooker’s appearance and loves what it has to offer. It has become one of the teaching tools used in her cooking classes. “People think they’re going to learn the hottest, hippest thing in the world, the new thing to come down the pike,” she says, “and then I put a slow cooker up on the counter.”
The first slow cooker was introduced in the early 1970s by Rival, under the trademarked name Crock-Pot. Today, two models of this appliance exist on the market: multicookers and the original slow cooker. Multicookers can be used to deep-fry, steam and slow-cook.
The crockery is an excellent insulator and keeps the cooking temperature even, so it doesn’t require constant attention. Because multicookers heat from the bottom, food must be watched carefully and continuously stirred to prevent scorching. Slow cookers, which range in size from eight ounces to six quarts, have a crockery insert that may or may not be removable. The insert rests in a metal housing unit that heats from the sides.
Here’s one of my favorite things to do with the crockpot…..
Pork (or Beef) on a Bun
The following recipe is so easy, it seems almost fraudulent to present it here as something original. But it’s just too good to keep secret. If you love pulled pork or brisket that’s been slow-cooked by a genuine barbecue joint, you’ll be amazed at how close you can get with a slow cooker. The final flavor will be determined largely by the brand of barbecue sauce you select, so use a fresh bottle and consider one that has a touch of smoke flavor.
|1 3- to 4-pound pork-butt roast or beef brisket|
|Salt and pepper to taste|
|2 medium onions, sliced|
|1 16-ounce jar barbecue sauce|
Carefully trim the meat of visible fat and season it with salt and pepper. Place the onions in the bottom of the crock, then lay the meat on top of them. (You may have to cut the brisket in half and stack the pieces.)
Pour about a half cup of the barbecue sauce over the meat and flip it around to coat it. Cover and let it cook for 9 to 10 hours on low.
Carefully remove the cooked meat from the crock and pour out the fat and juices, retaining the onions. For the pork: Using two forks, shred the meat into stringy chunks, discarding any fat.
Put the meat back in the crock, mix in the remaining barbecue sauce, and let it cook another half hour or so. (You could eat it now, but it’s better if it soaks awhile.)
For the beef: Slice the brisket across the grain and place it on a platter, discarding any fat. Cover it with sauce and let it sit for 10 minutes or so if you can bear it! Serve on soft rolls, onions on the side. Makes 8 to 10 servings.