In the 1970s, Crock-pot came out with a slow cooker that became the big trending kitchen appliance of the decade. Having a reasonably priced appliance that enabled you to cook a hearty hot meal while you were at work and have it ready for your family when you got home was a dream come true.
Since then, the slow cooker has become a kitchen staple for cooking at home and for parties. These countertop electrical cooking appliances simmer at a lower temperature than other cooking methods, such as baking, boiling, and frying. This allows unattended cooking for many hours of dishes that would otherwise be boiled: pot roast, soups, stews and other dishes. A wide variety of dishes can be prepared in slow cookers, including ones typically made quickly, such as cocoa and bread.
Slow cookers come in a variety of sizes, shapes and price points, so you need to think about how you will use it before purchase. If you typically cook a meal at a time for one to four adults—especially if your kitchen has limited storage space—then a small slow cooker that holds between three and four quarts is your best bet. Larger families or those who want to stretch leftovers throughout the week should opt for a slow cooker in the five to six-quart range.
You also need to consider the slow cooker features you want: do you want a high-heat setting to sear or brown your meat in the cooker before adding other ingredients? Do you want to take advantage of steam, simmer and sauté capabilities? Some of the best slow cookers on the market can also handle more than one cooking technique—a bonus for adding depth of flavor to your recipe without washing extra pots and pans.
Not only are these appliances great for your family meals, but they are terrific for your entertaining needs. You can use the slow cooker to prepare part of the party menu items while you are working on the others. The cooker allows you to use your other stove and oven at the same time.
Slow cookers are great for preparing party foods such as chili or stews for football parties or tailgates. They are useful for keeping many foods and drinks like mulled cider warm on buffet tables. When you have a bounty of ripe fruit on your hands, use slow cookers to make jams and fruit butters. Slow cookers can also be used for desserts like baked apples, cobblers, cakes and brownies. Hundreds and hundreds of great recipes are available are on the Internet.