I don't think it's even been a secret that I've never quite understood the slow cooker craze that has been going on over the past few years. I've struggled to understand why I might need one and I've often wondered whether food would dry out quickly even though I've been told it's the opposite. Of course, this hasn't stopped me looking at them and almost buying one on several occasions - because as you might well know, I love a gadget and if it's a kitchen one that's even better, so when I was asked if I'd like to review a Crock-Pot slow cooker I jumped at the chance.
I was sent a 4.7 litre saute traditional slow cooker. Immediately I was struck at how different this product looked compared to other ones I had seen, for starters it has a removable pot that can be used on the hob meaning, for instance, you could brown your beef on the hob then simply transfer the pot to the slow cooker. That and the fact that you can also use it in the oven, freezer, fridge and dishwasher means it's a very practical bit of kit. The only real negative for me is this particular model doesn't have a timer - I think if I were buying one that would be a feature that I would look for. It's not a deal-breaker but it's a nice thing to have.
Basically the idea with a slow cooker is you prep the ingredients, sling it in and set the temperature (there are two settings, high and low). It's ideal for people who are out at work all day as it means a hot, tasty dinner can be at home waiting for you after a long day. I only work part-time but even I know what a godsend this could be.
I decided to try out a hybrid of a recipe that I've made a few times Chicken and Red Wine Casserole but without the dumplings. I wasn't brave enough to do this when I was going to be out of the house all day as for some reason I feel that need to check on it! (I'm sure I'll get used to the concept soon...). It turned out really well, it wasn't overcooked as I feared and if anything I felt like it the flavour was really brought out. I was very impressed with how well it worked, and because of the non-stick coating and the ability to throw it in the dishwasher I was also impressed with the lack of elbow grease required to clean it (a common problem I find with casseroles!).
I'm definitely going to try out more recipes in the slow cooker - I didn't realise there was so much you could do in them if I'm honest. I truly thought it was just casserole type dishes but I've since discovered you can cook desserts in it and even make chutney and jam! The next thing I plan to make in it is a curry, and I may even leave the house this time.
Am a complete slow cooker convert? At the moment I'm undecided. I'm at home a lot during the day so have plenty of time to prepare meals, but I am definitely being won over and perhaps I will now make more of an effort on my working days instead of grabbing a frozen pizza or bag of chips!
Crock-Pot products are stocked at Argos, John Lewis, Currys and Amazon, plus many more high street retailers and come with a 2 year guarantee.
I'm on the look out for great slow cooker recipes now so if you know of any, please do leave a comment and let me know.