Crockpots

A crockpot, or slow cooker, is a very handy gadget to have in one's kitchen. They allow a cook to load it up with ingredients and let it cook with very little tending.

Slow cookers can be intimidating to the new cook, but they shouldn't be. I prefer the kind with the removable ceramic liner, which can act as a handy serving container when the dish is finished and is easier to clean.

I've had my slow cookers since the early 80s, right after I graduated from college. I originally picked up a 4 pt model that is on a base with a metal container, similar to this one:



One really handy thing about this style is the container can be used for in the regular oven. Which I have done on occasion when I needed a cooking dish that size.

Shortly there after I picked up a 6 qt slow cooker with a ceramic liner:



The two slow cookers really give me flexibility in cooking. The smaller one is great for small roasts and the other is great for big batch cooking and soups and stews.

Today I have two pork roasts in my 6 qt cooker which have been cooking since 8:30 am this morning. I keept it simple as the pork will be used in a variety of dishes, so I simply seasoned with a bit of kosher salt.

I am glad I got my slow cookers before the manufacturors fiddled with them. A number of people who've been slow cooking for years with them who've had to replace their old reliable ones have discovered the new ones cook at a much higher temperature, so recipes that could go all day suddenly scorch and burn in half the time. I've heard reports of soups and stews at a rolling boil when set on low!

Luckily there are slow cookers that are programable to switch to a "warm" setting once the cooking is done. My 6 qt job has a low-high-auto switch, so when set to "auto" will start cooking on high for a couple hours and then switch to low where it simmers until I am ready to serve dinner. If I ever had to replace it, I would go with the expense of getting one that will set itself to warm after a set time.
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