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Slow Cooker/Crock Pot: Recipes and Techniques


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Can anyone help me in using my le creuset dutch oven as a crock pot/slow cooker? I am curious about cooking times and temperatures - for example if a recipe geared for a slow cooker says "18 hours on low", how would I equate that to using my le creuset dutch oven in terms of oven temperature and cooking time? Will the overall results be similar or very different? I had read somewhere that the non-tight fitting lids of most slow cookers actually contributed to the excellent results. So given that the LC lids are so heavy and tight, I wasn't sure whether the cooking effects would be the same or not. Thanks for the help.

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Whoa.  For that price, I think I'll stick with browning the meat on the stove and transferring to the slow cooker.

Yea, that's why I am coveting and not gloating. Maybe Santa will be kind this year :)

I run a couple of Cuisinart slow cookers now. I am starting to appreciate wanting to skip the brown and transfer step in the process.

What I understand from reading the materials, the browning step still happens on the stovetop. It's just that it happens in the (nonstick-coated cast aluminuim) insert rather than in a separate pan. The hot insert still has to be carried over to the slow cooker and placed inside after the food is browned on the stovetop. So it's not as though the cooker is turned up to a high temperature for browning inside the unit, and then turned down to slow-cooking temperature.

--

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Yes, it's just the cleaning part I want to skip. One less pot to scrub...and I'm man enough to admit I have made quite a mess in dumping a pot roast on the counter..and then the floor trying to make the transfer to my stoneware cooker.

I did go down the WS to look at the unit. I was not completely impressed with it, but still think it's nice. I was expecting something more substantial in the outer stainless, something like the rest of my All-Clad, but it's sort of thin. The aluminum non-stick insert is really light. The digital readout is nice. It has the standard low/high/warm settings, but the manual doesn't give a temp for the settings.

Now, what's the story on non-stick coatings not doing justice to the Millard Reaction? That would be a deal breaker.

Edited by pounce (log)

My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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Now, what's the story on non-stick coatings not doing justice to the Millard Reaction? That would be a deal breaker.

Well, for sure they're not as good at browning. Anyone who has cooked in nonstick will tell you that. You're also limited as to the temperatures you can use (too high damages the coating).

--

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  • 3 months later...

I had the day off yesterday, so I tried an experiment:

1 rack ribs

1 handful, Cooper's BBQ Seasoning mix, well rubbed-on

1/2 bottle Cooper's BBQ Sauce

1 Broiler

1 Crockpot.

I rubbed the seasoning on, then broiled the ribs for about 10 minutes (I didn't time, just checked them twice). After that, I cut them into manageable pieces (~3 ribs per piece), put them into the crockpot, and doused them with a little sauce/liquid smoke combo. 6 hours later, they were juicy, meaty, and very tender. Dipped into the sauce again, like they do at the pit in Texas, they were awesome.

'Next time', I'll definitely add ketchup to the sauce, as the bottle directs for 'thicker sauce', for the final douse (just before consumption). The ribs were great, but not enough BBQ sauce flavor for my better half.

"Give it to Neil. I'll bet he'll eat it."
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One thing that is fabulous in a crock pot is slow cooking Irish Oatmeal (do not use quick oats or any other evil oat mutation!!!!) Start it at bedtime. Use the amount of water on the tin or box but substitute Half & Half for about 1/3 of the water. SO nice and creamy plus zero stirring. You will never eat regular oatmeal again.....I start mine on high for about 1 hour then low all night.

I also do pork butt roast in it with loads of garlic and whole peppercorns and then make my own slow simmered BBQ sauce on the stove from apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, molasses, cracked black pepper and brown sugar. Cook about 8 hours and then "pull" apart pork roast w/ fork and add sauce to taste. ~Mol

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  • 3 months later...

I use my crock when I'm out running around all day with the kids and can't be home to tend to a regular pot. I made a killer brisket for father's day in it. I also sometimes throw my Sunday Sauce in there if we will be out , and it comes out great. Then we just boil up the pasta when we get home. Very handy! :rolleyes:

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  • 5 months later...

I've wanted a crock pot for AGES. I recently took a new job which meant no more working for home, so finally I had a good enough excuse. So, I thought I would revive this thread and give my thoughts so far.

I opted for a Rival VersaWare model. I have not had any problems with it spitting as previously reported on this thread with other rival models.

The reason I chose it is mainly that it can be used to brown on the stove top. To me, a critical feature. I'm used to doing all my browning in a le creuset dutch. I've never used a second pan to cook aromatics and brown the protein.

Unfortunately the base of the versa ware insert is slightly domed, so the fat pools at the base of the walls instead of nicely coating the base. This makes browning a little less than a completely satisfying experience.

I've only cooked in it twice so far, first a faux-cassoulet (no confit) and veal osso-buco. Both were fantastic. Tomorrow I will do short ribs. All in all I'm quite satisfied. The crock is an excellent cooking vessel except for the domed base. The unit does get quite hot on the outside, but that doesn't bother me like it does a few others. The cord is short too, but that doesn't bother me either.

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I've wanted a crock pot for AGES.  I recently took a new job which meant no more working for home, so finally I had a good enough excuse.  So, I thought I would revive this thread and give my thoughts so far.

I opted for a Rival VersaWare model.  I have not had any problems with it spitting as previously reported on this thread with other rival models. 

The reason I chose it is mainly that it can be used to brown on the stove top.  To me, a critical feature.  I'm used to doing all my browning in a le creuset dutch.  I've never used a second pan to cook aromatics and brown the protein.

Unfortunately the base of the versa ware insert is slightly domed, so the fat pools at the base of the walls instead of nicely coating the base.  This makes browning a little less than a completely satisfying experience. 

I've only cooked in it twice so far, first a faux-cassoulet (no confit) and veal osso-buco.  Both were fantastic.  Tomorrow I will do short ribs.  All in all I'm quite satisfied.  The crock is an excellent cooking vessel except for the domed base.  The unit does get quite hot on the outside, but that doesn't bother me like it does a few others.  The cord is short too, but that doesn't bother me either.

You can solve the short cord problem by using an extension cord that is rated for higher wattage, that is one that is rated for heavier appliance use.

They are always 3-wire and will have a tag with the wattage rate right one them. I have several, from 24 inches to 8 feet - the latter has 3 sockets on the female end and is rated at 2500 watts. The single ones are rated at 1875 watts.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Although I haven't read through this entire thread - where the answer to my question may well be - I recently (finally) purchased a cookbook specifically for slow cookers (This isn't your mother's slow cooker cookbook - for small slow cookers) - so my question is this - I have a large model - I think around 3 quarts - and all the receipes in this book are for 2 people - in a 1.5 to 2 qt model - should I just break down and purchase a smaller pot? Would it be so bad to have a 2nd slow cooker? Heck even as I'm writing this, I'm thinking, "boy how rhetorical." - But I need a second (or third) opinion....

Live and learn. Die and get food. That's the Southern way.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Please... anyone have a GOOD recipe for slow-cooker Boeuf Bourguignon? I found one on the internet that seemed too basic. Not that I need an overly complex recipe. Just a good, solid recipe that doesn't leave out essential flavors. I know someone out there in egullet-land has a kick-ass boeuf bourguignon recipe that doesn't suck.

Thanks! I can't wait to give it a whirl!

-James Kessler

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  • 2 months later...

Ok, so after slogging around for a few years selling stuff and writing stuff, I'm back in the game that is, frankly, the one thing that I know how to do well. While I truly love my my new job, and it's likely that I will keep it until I REALLY retire, I really, really miss eating a decent meal when I get home. I am too shot to cook anything more than 30 minute meals (which, heh, I could kick Rachel's ass all over the kitchen with), but sometimes you want something more complex. Also, something that the leftovers from are worth taking in for lunch, even in a different form.

To that end, I have been dorking around with this swell, new crockpot. Now, just for the record, this didn't start out as my idea. My paramour, Ann C from DC, got one of these things as a kind of joke gift (trust me, giving Ann kitchen gear is, truly, the finest example of coals to Newcastle ever presented) and, bizarrely, decided it would be fun to play with. She has made some bomber, world class, Beard winner stuff in it and I can do all of her recipes now. What I am interested in is broadening my spectrum.

he equipment itself is pretty amazing. It's six quarts, the controls are really easy to operate and understand (unlike, for example, the alarm on my cell phone) and it works like a champ. I think that it might be something that could be massively fun to play with as long as I have some new ideas, tips, etc., to go along with it.

I am, as many of you know, a Southern boy and, in particular, a Louisiana boy. Happily, many, many of the dishes that are considered really traditional here are one pot dishes and, with a bit of adjustment, they lend themselves really, really well to this fine piece of machinery. While I can happily eat gumbo, ettoufee, sauce picant, chicken fricassee, and all of my homelands other favorite daily meals, I am looking to make some stuff that might be a little different and that will be ready when I come home so that all I have to do is make some rice, or some pasta, whack out some green stuff in a sautee pan, heat some bread, and sit down and use my carbon covered hands (that's hard to get off-someone, somewhere, when you are drinking your fine spirits and reading this ramble, is at home trying to scrub the activated carbon off of his hands-it's tough) to fork some fine food into my gullet.

So, what I am looking for is some advice from some folks who really know how to make these things sing. I eat anything and everything, so menu limitations are few. I will be willing to use recipe gullet (something I am phenomenally bad at following through on, but I will really try) to post some amazing recipes that we have already put together if some of you will be willing to help me out with recipes, hints, whatever might turn me into a crock pot whiz instead of a crock of ....

There's not much better than coming home to great smells and the basics of a delicious meal. Help me out here. I would really appreciate it.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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French onion soup! Peel and cut of ends of onions (how many depend on the amount you can fit in your crockpot) and put them into the crockpot. Add a stick of butter. Let it cook all day or overnight. You will get beautifully caramelized onion with a flavorful stock. In a separate pot, combine some of the onion (cut into smaller pieces) and liquid, along with beef or chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste and optional wine and herbs (like thyme) and you'll have a wonderful onion soup.

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There was a thread a while ago about paprika that advocated a crockpot method of cooking chicken thighs. You layer sliced onions and the chicken. Start with onion layer. The thighs are massaged in a bag with the paprikas of your choice so that they are looking coated like chicken for frying. Figure salt and pepper in there. The smoosh of onion, paprika and dark meat chicken works anywhere a meat ragu would. Over pasta, polenta, potato, etc. In my old crockpot it would be an all day affair.

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I have discovered that just about any braised recipe can be successfully done in a crock pot, once you realize that any preliminary browning/searing/sweating/sauteing of ingredients needs to be done beforehand in a separate pan and then loaded into the crock pot for the actual slow-cooking portion of the program. Never fear that you're abandoning any fond left in the bottom of that separate pan--you just deglaze, and then dump the deglazing liquid into the crock pot along with everything else.

So for instance: with a stew, just sear off all your stew meat and place in crock pot; sweat all your aromatics/mirepoix/etc. and place that in the crock pot too; deglaze the pan with your booze/broth/stock/etc of choice, and into the crock pot with that too; add your herbs and seasonings, and remaining liqud per your recipe; and then just slap the lid on the crock and let it go until it's done.

You might have to adjust recipes to decrease total liquid--there isn't that much evaporation in such a closed-lid system, and often, in fact, a net gain of liquid as your ingredients, especially the vegetables, release some water. I also tend to season relatively lightly at the start, especially if it's the first time I've tried a recipe in the crock, and then correct seasonings as needed at the end. By trial and error you'll discover how much evaporation to expect with your particular slow-cooker, and then you can make adjustments accordingly.

The main thing you have to watch with a crock pot is to resist the urge to take the lid off unless/until absolutely necessary. Any lid removal lets heat escape, and at the low temps they run at it takes a long time to build up to cooking temp again, so lid-lifting even to stir will slow things down significantly--and adding cold ingredients, or even room-temp ingredients, will really slow things down. So I try to get everything in at the beginning, and then try to not budge that lid until the dish is approaching its estimated "done" time--and then I try to get the lid back on as soon as possible.

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misducky hit the nail on the head. My favorite thing to braise in a crock pot is beef cheek meat. It takes 20-30 hours but is worth it. It's very rich and falls apart. I like it on hot tortillas with lime and maybe some salsa verde.

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I like to use it for whole chickens cooked with no added liquid at all. I only use a crockpot when I'm in NZ, you'll have to reinvent the dish, as I'm hazy on the details, but the texture of chicken cooked this way means that it's great cold in the next day's lunchbox.

However, since it's simply steaming in its own moisture, it needs judicious seasoning in the first place.

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Someone, I'm not sure who donated this book to the eG heartland gathering last year. I picked it up and its great. I've made the pulled pork and some of the soups( although I'm sure its getting warmer now in NO). It has pretty good reviews on Amazon.

eta:

The main thing you have to watch with a crock pot is to resist the urge to take the lid off unless/until absolutely necessary.

See, I've found this to not be true. The author of the book above, even says it doesnt really hurt to lift the lid and give things a stir. I do that frequently, and I dont notice any loss of taste or texture.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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the only thing I really ever have made in a crock pot are beans ..and I love them in there! all types of beans ...ham hocks and beans ..beans and greens ...greens and ham hocks (no beans are wonderful too) then add cornmeal dumplings at the end of the cooking...and just plain old pinto beans with very little seasoning ..come out so good in a crock pot ...low and slow ...

roasting raw nuts in the crock pot is not a "while you are at work thing" because you do have to stir them ...but talk about tasty! you can add seasonings and make the best spiced nuts ever ..and your house will smell wonderful!

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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..

roasting raw nuts in the crock pot is not a "while you are at work thing" because you do have to stir them ...but talk about tasty!  you can add seasonings and make the best spiced nuts ever ..and your house will smell wonderful!

Tell us more, never roasted nuts in the crockpot before.

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I use venison roasts for this, but I know that beef roasts would work just as well. I like to use a package of Lipton dry onion soup mix, a bit of dark beer, a ton of sliced onion rings and some beef broth or beef bullion cubes. Throw all of that in the crock on low--I'm usually gone for around 10 hours. By the time I get home it's fall apart tender. I put it on crusty buns, topped with some onions and cheese and use the juice for an awesome French dip sandwich.

I also like to put a pork roast in with some good BBQ sauce and have BBQ pork sandwiches.

edited to add the beef bullion

Edited by Shelby (log)
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The main thing you have to watch with a crock pot is to resist the urge to take the lid off unless/until absolutely necessary.

See, I've found this to not be true. The author of the book above, even says it doesnt really hurt to lift the lid and give things a stir. I do that frequently, and I dont notice any loss of taste or texture.

Oh I guess I should clarify--no, lifting the lid doesn't harm the taste or texture of the finished dish at all; it just slows the cooking down even more because it takes a good while for the cooker to return to temp after losing heat when the lid was lifted, which can really throw a monkey wrench into one's planned dinner time. Or at least, that's what's happened to me with mine. :biggrin: So I guess my point should be amended accordingly ...

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  • 1 year later...

I've only ever used my slow cooker for savory dishes, but saw a recipe in Family Circle for this applesauce cake cooked in one , and it got me thinking about desserts. I hope I didn't miss this earlier in the thread.

A girl from work is leaving tomorrow (we're having a carry-in) and my cousin brought me a huge grocery bag full of pears from her tree. I thought I'd make a pear crisp or maybe this cake (with pearsauce v. applesauce). Would a crisp work? I'm not sure on how brown the top would get, but the recipe I make doesn't get super crisp anyway.

I'm really just wanting something that will keep the dessert relatively warm till lunch. The cake recipe only takes a few hours, so in theory I could mix the ingredients together and then plug in the cooker at lunch.

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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I don't know about a cake, but from my experience with crockpots, they tend to really keep in the moisture, resulting in lots of condensation and dripping from the lid. I can't imagine that would be very conducive to producing a crisp crisp! I think crisps are delicious at room temp, and would just skip the crockpot all together...

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