* Prices may differ from that shown
Our slow cooker is basically one of the family. There's a lot of love connected to this little bit of kit; first of all it was one of many foodie Christmas presents from my wonderful mum, and secondly it is a gem for gently cooking to perfection all the chillis, pie fillings, casseroles and more that Mr Rarr enjoys so much. And me...more on that in a second.
Now, a quick word on design; my model is precisely the same as in the product photo here on Dooyoo; however a look on Amazon and Argos etc suggest that either the base design has changed or the exact model is not available new any more. However, what seems to be the updated version is available in the £30+ region, and I'm going to continue with this review in case it is helpful to anyone who is contemplating an ebay or second-hand purchase.
My advice in that situation would be positive; this is a great bit of kit. What you have is a stainless steel main body in which you rest a smart-looking, smoothly-finished black ceramic bowl. This has good-sized handles which mean you can lift it out of the main body with oven gloves if you need to. It's smooth finish means that it is easy to clean and it still looks like new even now - and I can't even recall how many years I've had this.
The main body has a brushed finish and can be slightly harder to remove stains from if any splashes occur during cooking stages, and there are some stain on the inside where liquid has bubbled over when I've overfilled the basin, but who looks in there?
Now to why a slow cooker suits me so well; I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch of anyone's overactive imagination, but I am quite selective when it comes to what I can eat with enjoyment. I appreciate the taste and health benefits of meat being included in a balanced diet, but I am very sensitive over the issue of texture. I am fully aware that meat products come from something that has lived, and anything chewy, likely to contain gristle or lumps of fat, or have a fatty texture overall, makes me feel physically sick. I don't know how Mr Rarr can eat every part of a pork chop, for example, and cheap mince is a no-go in this house.
What the slow cooker offers is a cheap and efficient way of slow-cooking down chunks of braising steak, which I can cope with when cooked to my definition of 'properly'. It also gives you hours of the house smelling of gorgeous food. The slow cooking process allows your seasoning and herbs to get into the meat, and you get a harmonious, beautifully tender meal at the end of it. Meanwhile you can get on with your day. If you're dieting it has the added benefit that excess fat rises to the top of the mixture, so you can scoop that away towards the end of cooking, once it has done its job as a flavour carrier.
Part of my ethical consideration of meat coming from living things is our approach to waste; stock is a regular bonus from this machine, every carcass is used in this way, along with any veg that needs using up. The result is stock for future casseroles, or soups. Even now and then the Rarr Hounds get a scoopful as a treat to moisten their mixture in their feed, although as our stocks usually contain onions or shallots, this is a rare and moderate treat.
This particular model comes with a black setting dial on the front; your options are Off, Low, High and Warm. If I'm in the house on a day off I'll use the high setting, although after several hours this can leave your mixture bubbling rather than gently cooking, so I would never leave this on whilst out of the house. I haven't actually left it on low and gone out for the day; for a start, work plus my epic commute would be too long, and secondly I'm paranoid. Not because of anything this item has done to make me worry about its safety, but because I'm the sort of person who has to turn the TV off at the mains and check I've locked the door twice before I can leave the house empty. However, I'm sure this product would be fine for hours on its own on low.
I couldn't be without a slow cooker. This one gets used at least twice a week between meals and subsequent stocks and I have never had a reason to be disappointed with how it operates. It is still going strong and at just over £30, it must have saved in electricity that and more over years. And the food it produces is the type of food that underlines my belief that the best way to show someone you love them is to cook them something that will both please them and help keep them healthy and well-fed. In doing so it basically does most of the work for you in a resource-efficient way. There is nothing I could complain about regarding this slow cooker, it has been hoisted in and out of cupboards and probably been treated a bit roughly and my god do we make it work, but there is no sign of damage, there have been no problems, and never once has it not shown up to work without a smiley little 'on' light beaming brightly. It's fantastic and I highly recommend this model.
I decided to purchase a slow cooker as I love the idea of coming home to a cooked meal after work and being able to leave meals to cook when I need to pop out for errands. I had previously had a bad experience with another brand of slow cooker but my friend recommended the Cookworks model as she had one so I was determined to give it another shot!
Ease of use:
I have the Cookworks 3.5 litre slow cooker which is just the right size to fit a large chicken in (full measurements available on Argos website). If you need to do any pre cooking on the hob, you cannot use the ceramic pot of the slow cooker so you will need to use a large casserole. Otherwise, you can just bung everything into the cooker and leave for as long as necessary. Unlike another model of slow cooker I have tried, the Cookworks slow cooker doesn't dry out food so it doesn't get burnt to the edges and I feel confident leaving it while I go out.
The Cookworks slow cooker has three settings: low, high, and warm. I have found that things will take exactly half as long to cook on high as on low which makes working out cooking times straight forward. The "warm" setting is particularly useful when people are taking ages to get to the table!
I have now cooked currys, stews and soups in my slow cooker and am totally addicted! Tough/cheap cuts of meat cooked on "low" come out beautifully tender and a chicken done in the slow cooker is fantastically moist. It hasn't failed at anything yet! Unlike another brand I tried, the food stays moist and doesn't dry out.
Easy to clean?
This slow cooker is particularly easy to clean. I simply soak the cooking pot for two minutes in hot water and any food that has stuck to the sides comes off with very little scrubbing. This is ideal as the whole point of a slow cooker for me is to be low maintenance so I don't want to spend ages cleaning it! The main cooking pot is white which I prefer as you can be sure it is lovely and clean when you're done with it.
Value for money:
The Cookworks 3.5 litre slow cooker is only £14.99 (Argos) which for me is incredible value for money. It works far better in terms of cooking results than a more expensive brand I tried. It is fantastically easy to use, has all the settings I need and is easy to clean.
I purchased this slowcooker about 4 years ago in Argos, for 10 pounds, which is a bit of a bargain in anyones book. It has a capacity of 3.5 litres, which is perfect for a family of 4 and it's even possible to fit a shoulder of lamb in there. The slowcooker has two temperatures, high and low, and a warming function. I use the slowcooker for a wide variety of recipes- mostly to make soups, or pot roast a lamb leg or shoulder. The slow cooker is perfect for the latter task, as you end up with meat that falls off the bone, without messing up your oven! It takes about 6-8 hours to pot roast lamb, and about 3 hours to make soup, but this is adjustable depending on whether you set the temperature on high or low. The great thing is that the nutritional content of the veg and meat are not adversely affected by the long cooking, as it cooks so slowly, and so more veggies are kept in.
The slowcooker has been very reliable and is still going strong! I would really recommend it.
Since living on my own I have become a rather big fan of slow cooking! I started off with a very small slow cooker from Asda and when that burnt out and gave up the ghost I ended up investing in a much larger one which I use ever such a lot for curries and casseroles....well anything really!
I didn't purchase this one though, I acquired it from my next door neighbours when they left and I decided that as it was even bigger than the one I usually use that I'd pop my other one in a cupboard 'just in case' and use this one instead to see how I got on with it. This never came to me boxed though the instruction leaflet was within the pot part and thats very informative indeed and it has a 2 year warranty with it too!
My slow cooker is currently on sale from the Argos catalogue or from the Argos website (www.Argos.com) and costs £24.99 and isn't the same as the one shown on the top of this reviews photograph. Mine is the 6.5L Cookworks 'Signature' version.
The Slow Cooker:
The outer casing of this is stainless steel, its oval in shape and rather large of course to be a 6.5 capacity slow cooker. It has a removable inner black ceramic pot which is dishawasher safe as is the tapered glass see through lid which has a black round handle on it. Its a none slip slow cooker with little black rubber feet to the bottom of it and it has a reasonably long power cable though these things never seem to have a really long able for some reason! Its a rather heavy unit this one but feels robust and not flimsy at all and on the front of it, in black wiriting we are simply told that it is cookworks and there is an easy to use dial on the front giving us the option to turn the unit off, warm, high and low heat options are given too.
Although this takes up quite a lot of room in my tiny kitchen this serves me so well and also gives me lots of food left to freeze should I want to. For me this is a really good slow cooker for a family and offers amazing value for money at just £24.99! Like I stated earlier I make curries in mine and casseroles, the only thing I do before popping anything in here is to fry meat off first if I'm having it as I never find meat to fully cook to my liking through slow cooking alone though you can of course only cook it in here if you want to but I hate mince not pre cooked in here inparticular!
It takes time to get used to any slow cooker in my experience. I always pop all my ingredients in the pot and sling it on high for a good while and then lower it to warm till I finish slow cooking my food and then just to keep it warm till I'm ready to eat it pop it on a low heat and depending on what your cooking and the portion size of the dish times vary which is what you need to get used to. If slow cooking at night I leave this on the warm option and if need be turn it to high for a short time before serving it, if I go out all day it stays on low however I am in today and got this on and my casserole will be ready to serve myself in about 4 hours!
This is a great, large unit. Easy to clean and food virtually cooks itself and with slow cooking the options of what to eat is endless. I will always have a slow cooker so I can use cheaper cuts of meat and sling in some vegetables to eat on old winter nights and don't even get me started on making your own home made soup in one of these...like I say the list of what to cook in one of these just grows and grows!
Solid and durable...yep thumbs up from me and my dinner guests!
Shop around for this at a decent price but I do think Argos is your best bet on this one right now!
This review is also posted on Ciao under this same username.
------ REVIEW IS FOR A 3.5 LITRE WHITE SIDED ARGOS COOKWORKS SLOW COOKER -------
---Why I Bought It---
In our household we all tend to cook our own meals as husband eats meat and I do not - and student son usually gets all his own food anyway.
Well being unwell i thought a slow cooker might be a good way of preparing food in the morning and putting it on to cook so as to have a hot meal later in the day with not much effort.
I had been considering one for a while as I had had one many years ago when I was first married and found it cooked well when I was out at work, so I was pleased when this was on special offer last year at Argos and son gave me a voucher to buy it.
Cookworks is a brand of Argos' which includes inexpensive small electric appliances and kitchen equipment.
This is a large slow cooker!
The slow cooker itself is white metal with a control knob on the front showing OFF, LOW, HIGH and WARM.
It contains a large removable stoneware bowl which fits inside and can be taken out to clean or to use as a serving dish.
The cooker comes with a small book containing 10 recipes and an instruction booklet.
* 200 watts
* Capacity 3.5 litres
* Removable ceramic bowl
* 3 settings low-high-warm
* Keep warm function
* Toughened glass lid
* Dishwasher safe
* Power light
* Non-slip feet.
* Dried beans need soaking overnight and boiled for 10-15 minutes
* Tinned beans should be added 30-45 minutes before the end of cooking
* Not recommended for rice, noodles or pasta (except pudding rice)
* Cook rice, pasta or noodles separately and add 30 minutes before end of cooking
* Defrost meat before using
* Brown meat/vegetables in pan before adding to slow cooker
* Place vegetables under meat in bowl as they take longer to cook
* Do not fill to brim
* Do not keep removing lid as this will extend cooking times.
LOW - for cooking throughout the day or overnight
HIGH - cooks at twice the speed of low
WARM - will keep food warm after cooking has finished.
---Converting Your Recipes---
If your recipe states 30 minutes allow 3-4 hours on HIGH or 6-8 hours on LOW
If your recipe states 35-60 minutes allow 5-6 hours on HIGH or 8-10 hours on LOW
If your recipe states 1-3 hours allow 7-8 hours on HIGH or 10-12 hours on LOW.
(All times are approximate.)
(Many more can be found online)
* 1oz butter
* 1 chopped onion
* 1 crushed garlic
* 2 lbs mixed vegetables (potatoes, carrots, swede, parsnip, broccoli)
* 1.5 pints vegetable stock
* 2 tablespoons tomato purée
* 1 tablespoon chopped mixed herbs
Heat the butter in a pan, add the onion and garlic and brown for a few minutes - then add vegetables for a few more minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.
Transfer to the slow cooker and cook on either HIGH for 2.5-4 hours or on LOW for 6-9 hours.
Around £10 when I purchased last year.
Currently the 3.5 litre Slow Cooker is £17.99 on the Argos website or £14.99 for the smaller 1.5 litre size.
These prices do fluctuate a lot throughout the year - they can often be under £10.
I was lucky to have had my slow cooker for next to nothing as it was on sale for around £10 last year and son had a spare £10 voucher - so it only really cost me the delivery charge.
I was debating which size to buy, the 3.5 or 1.5 - and it turned out the larger size was cheaper.
However I think as I only want to use it for myself I did make a mistake - but that is not the machines fault.
The smaller size would have been perfectly adequate for me, would have used less power and also would have been easier to store - as this large oval one does take up quite a bit of space both on the worktop and in the cupboard.
I do not eat meat so do not need the slow cooking fascilities to tenderise cheap cuts but I do use it for vegetable stews and porridge.
As I am not out all day I usually put it on the HIGH setting - meaning my vegetables take around 3 - 4 hours.
When I do vegetables I heat the large ceramic bowl with warm water and then heat the vegetables in a saucepan with some liquid so they are hot going in - you must not add hot items to a cold pot or it might crack.
The lid is clear glass so you can see the food inside and you are told not to remove the lid while it is cooking.
After the required time I just add some gravy granules and I have my stew.
The bowl can be removed for washing or to serve food on the table - I often wipe it out in situ as it is very heavy (but I am a bit weak too).
Luckily the bowl does clean very easily with some soapy water poured in and wiped with a sponge pad.
Personally I would not want to use the bowl on the table but if it was used for a huge family meal it would be OK to use and easier than transferring to another dish - but it does remind me of some old fashioned hospital utensil!
---Would I Recommend?---
Yes definitely - but perhaps buy the smaller size if you are only cooking for one or two.
5 Stars. No problems with its functioning.
my wife brought this not too long ago and it works a treat. we can put our joint of meat in the slowcooker in the morning when we get up and we are able to go out and do what we wish to do without worring about burning dinner. the meat comes out really tender too which is a massive bonus
we have made so many things in this slow cooker and the tast of the food has been great so far.
very easy to clean out and it looks very stylish in the kitchen too. its not an eyesore like many slow cookers i have seen.
makes a lovely stew and doesnt take too much space up on your worktop either.
great that its a 6.5 litre because not only can you put your joint of meat in you can also fit in your roast potatoes although they dont come out crispy so you have to finish them off in the oven
makes enough stew/casserole for at least a family of 4
cant place a thing wrong with it
I had wanted to buy a slow cooker for some time and when I placed an online order from Argos I saw the Cookworks signature slow cooker was on special offer for just £11 so added it to my basket. Unfortunately I did not check the dimensions of the product before ordering and ended up with the 6.5l model which has turned out to be too big for my needs but it is still a good quality product.
Slow cooking is a great way to cook stews, soups and curries as the long cooking time is economical in terms of fuel consumption and it produces extremely tender meat. You also have the added benefit of being able to place a dish on to cook in the morning and come home to a dinner which is ready to serve up when you get home from work.
The Cookworks slow cooker is one of the cheapest on the market yet despite this it still manages to perform well. It is attractive with its thick stainless steel outer walls which do become hot in use and simple dial and glass lid.
The inner pot is made of ceramic and is extremely thick and heavy. You cannot use it on the hob to brown meat and this must be done in a frying pan before adding it to the slow cooker. The ceramic pot has small handles on either side which allow it to be lifted but bigger handles would have been nicer to make it easier to grip as it is extremely heavy when full of food. The 6.5l pot will not fit into the sink easily for cleaning and I need to dunk one end at a time into a basin of soapy water but I have found that any food residue wipes away easily. It is dishwasher safe if you have a dishwasher big enough to hold it.
Once you have added your food to the slow cooker it is a case of choosing one of the heat settings and switching it on. You can either cook on high, low or keep warm functions, high is best until food comes to the boil and low continues cooking things more slowly. I have found it takes over an hour to bring half a pot full of ingredients to the boil and then I switch to low and continue cooking for several hours.
There is a small recipe book provided with the slow cooker but I never found it to be much use and recipes are easily available online. I have always guessed at cooking times and it is almost impossible to overcook things on a low heat. You need to remember to not add too much water to the recipe as so little will boil away during cooking and sauces will not thicken without adding something like flour.
The 6.5l slowcooker will probably cook enough food for 12+ main meal portions of food. I have recently bought a smaller slow cooker because I found it impossible to cook smaller amounts of food (i.e. 4 portions) in this one as it really does need to be at least half full to use it without the food bubbling away too hard and getting stuck to the crock pot. The 6.5l also doesn't fit into any of my kitchen cupboards so needs to be stored on top of my cupboards.
The Cookworks slow cooker is a great investment but make sure you only buy the 6.5l one if you have a huge family to cook for. I don't see any need to spend more on a different brand as the specs don't very much between them and the Cookworks one should last for years if cared for properly.
About five years ago my husband and I purchased a Cookworks Signature Slow Cooker, model number MDTHH35 from Argos in the sale. The price varies wildly, however we paid £15 for it, which was a great price.
The slow cooker has a generous 3.5L capacity, which is great for four adults easily. It has 160-190W Power due to the choice of settings (low, high and auto and a warming function) and a removable crock pot with tempered glass lid, which means you can take the crock pot right to the table and serve it from there. Handily, both the crock pot and lid are dishwasher safe.
The slow cooker is quite attractive and modern in stainless steel with black plastic handles, feet and rim. It looks the part in any type of kitchen, especially modern ones (as all our other appliances are stainless steel also).
Making a meal using the slow cooker is a doddle. I simply seal any meat (beef, pork and chicken work well) with some spices or herbs. I roughly chop and throw in veggies, and then put the lot in the cooker. Top it off with enough water to cover it all, with two stock cubes. Then stick on the lid, set it to high, and et voila, in a few hours (I usually leave it about six hours, as I put it on at 12 and we eat at 6pm) you have a hearty stew. You can put dumplings in, too, 30 minutes before serving and they will come up plump and tasty. Perfect. We make four servings from our slow cooker - two that night, and two for work the next day, or to freeze for the future. So handy. You can make so much in the slow cooker, not just stews - pie fillings, chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognaise, even whole chickens (I haven't been that adventurous yet!) - I would recommend you spend a few pounds on a slow cooker recipe book. as there's so much you can do.
Convenience wise it's brilliant for me - I prepare the evening meal when my daughter has her afternoon nap, it takes about 20 minutes for most slow cooker meals. Then, I can either go out for a walk or to meet friends, or simply get on with tasks at home. When my husband comes home from work, we serve up - it's as easy as that - even if extras like yorkshire puds, pasta or garlic bread need to be made, it still means a hearty home cooked meal can be on the table in under 10 minutes. Over the years the slow cooker has paid for itself as it's stopped us taking the easy route and getting a takeaway. It's also saved us money as we use up all our odds and ends of veggies and half tins of sweetcorn and lentils - it all goes in, and it's very hard to mess up!
I can't recommend getting a slow cooker enough, they suit everyone - and this Cookworks model is perfect for a family, couple, or even a single person who wishes to batch freeze meals to microwave later. It's a good looking slow cooker, both in the kitchen, and the stock pot on the table, and it is an absolute doddle to use. For the money, you can't go wrong with this model - and we are a testament to how well made they are, as ours has lasted years and no doubt will last years to come. A true lifesaver!
Cookworks Slow Cooker
Model 420/7490(D) from Argos
3.5 litre capacity
2 heat & warm settings
Removable ceramic crock pot
Neon power indicator
230-240 volts - 50 Hz 200W
This is not as illustrated but has the same model number & is the one on sale now (2010/2011).
I purchased the above slow cooker from Argos at a very good sale price to give slow cooking a try.
* The RRP is £19.99. I bought it last week for £7.99. It is now at £9.99. For some strange reason, Argos seem to be for ever putting their sale prices up & down then up again.
I had to ask at the counter as it is shown online & can be reserved for in store collection but is not in the Argos catalogue in store. They went behind the scenes & produced it for me but didn't seem to know why it's not in the catalogue but is online, if it is old stock because it's always on sale price or if it is a new line not yet in the current catalogue!
* Note - the much smaller & inferior Argos Value Range Argos
Value Range MD-YHJ20 is priced at around £13.99. so worth looking out for this reviewed one when at lowest sale price if you want a low priced slow cooker.
I fancied trying a slow cooker but wasn't entirely sure which type to go for. After spending hours reading reviews, phoning Morphy Richards & looking up prices & deals I decided to try this cheap version to see if I really needed the more expensive type with digital timer & auto cook & keep warm functions etc.
This Cookworks label is said to be exclusive to Argos, although I think Homebase use the label as well & I seem to remember seeing it in Woolworths when they were around. A couple of marketplace sellers on Amazon also have them but at a much higher price.
Slow cookers come in about 3 sizes. They are not always clearly labelled. You need to look carefully at the description as the model size usually refers to the total filled to the brim with liquid capacity & has an actual cooking capacity of much less as should only be filled to about 2/3rd. This cooking capacity varies with different brands.
The model being reviewed - Cookworks labelled 3.5 litre capacity. It is described on the Argos site as 8 cups capacity but has no mention in the accompanying instruction manual or on the box of actual working capacity. It is actually a working capacity of 2 litres. This model/size is only realistically suitable for 2/3 small portions, not the 4 person capacity you would expect it to be.
Most 6.5 litre models have a working capacity of 4 litres
Majority of slow cookers are stainless steel/chrome exterior with black inner bowl & glass lid & are oval shaped which allows for cooking a joint of meat or a whole small chicken. This particular one has the glass lid but is all white both exterior & ceramic inner bowl & is round & taller. It is very neat looking & takes up less work space than the oval models & is easier to wipe clean.
Suitable for 2/3 small portions.
Manual states that things like noodles, rice or pasta should only be added during last 30 minutes, or that yoghurt or milk should be added during last two hours.
I have not tried roasting chicken or joints of meat but I am dubious as to whether they would brown or just be boiled, although they would be tender.
More expensive models can cook puddings in individual basins etc., but there is no mention of that in this manual although there are a couple of simple sweet recipes.
~Now to my experience of this model~
As slow cookers are renowned for making cheaper cuts of meat beautifully tender & went for the cheapest I could find for the dish I was preparing. I used a pack of Irish diced beef from the Sainsbury's Basics range - described as old favourite cuts of beef ideal for slow cooking - cost £2.75 for 440g.
I prepared my veg in the morning - I large onion, 1 large green pepper, 1 large carrot, 1 sweet potato, garlic cloves, 1 green chilli - all chopped up. I fried the meat lightly until just browning on outside, then added onion for a few mins. I then added the rest of chopped veg & a beef stock cube & 1 ¼ pint of boiling water, pinch salt, black pepper, pinch dried ginger, shake of worcester sauce.
I found this amount if ingredients was just right for the working capacity of this cooker.
As the instructions state that the ceramic inner bowl is liable to crack with different temperatures & liquid must be boiling when put in, I was very careful. As outside temperatures are sub-zero at the moment I brought the new cooker out from the car the night before to make sure it acclimatised to the indoor temperature ready to use. I brought ingredients all up to boiling in deep frying pan before pouring into the ceramic bowl which I had sprayed with Frylight.
I then lowered the ceramic bowl into the metal cooker, put the lid on top, plugged in & switched onto high for half an hour, then changed to low & left for 7 hours. (a more expensive slow cooker with auto setting would have changed from high to low at the appropriate time & shut off when cooked to the keep warm setting).
There is a red light when turned on which gives a re-assuring neon glow throughout cooking.
You can see the contents through the glass lid but can't tell if it is boiling dry or needs thickening. Apparently lifting the lid of slow cookers during use will mean you need to add a further 20 minutes to the cooking time as it breaks the seal (but this particular model fails to seal anyway).
I had read a few reviews on this particular model & most said that the lid rattles on high setting. This didn't happen during my cooking time, although it did seem very loose. However, about 20 mins before the expected end of time I lifted the lid to see if it needed any adjusting. It was very thin so I added instant mash powder to thicken ( a Slimming World trick) & put the lid back on. It was still cooking on low but the lid started to rattle. I gave it a little nudge & moved it slightly which cured the rattle, but this proved that the lid makes no seal which all other reports & slow cooker books mention is a necessary part of the slow cooker procedure.
After about 25 mins I decided it should be well cooked & turned it off. The glass lid & ceramic bowl are easily breakable & everything gets extremely hot so oven gloves & great care are needed.
The inner ceramic bowl is heavy, so great care needed not to drop it!
I positioned it near to a socket, although there was plenty more usable lead.
I used it at the back of the work surface & so it was underneath cupboards, but there was enough clearance to safely lift out the hot ceramic bowl complete with contents.
It didn't seem to be slippery at all so I presume the feet must be non-slip.
After a few minutes of turning off cooker, I used a big ladle to fill a serving bowl with cooked casserole. It was still extremely hot & thin/watery. The meat was beautifully tender but not completely evenly cooked.
When contents had all been taken out & the bowl cooled down a bit, I filled with hot water & washing up liquid & left to soak in the sink (manual states must not be immersed in cold water) I made sure I washed both the bowl & the lid that evening & both were very easy to clean. The outer metal exterior of the cooker didn't need any wiping as I had been very careful, but I believe that the white would be much easier to keep clean than stainless steel which shows up every mark & finger print.
A very neat & space saving appliance.
Pleasing on the eye & easy to clean although no parts are dishwasher safe.
Nice to see the neon light on all the time.
Selector switch very positive & easy to use.
I think we could get this one on the Trades Description Act in that the description on the Argos site states that is has Auto Shut off when in fact it does not have anything like that. You can ask questions on the Argos site product page & the answers to that one state that 'No' it does not have Auto Shut Off!
It also has no proper keep warm facility although it states that it does. The warm setting can be used after the cooking time has been completed, but it will not really do the job that you hope it will, & can not be used for cooking on a medium setting.
The lid does not make the necessary seal. Therefore the food bubbles along gently for the amount of hours you choose, but is not really cooking in the sealed way that electric slow cookers are supposed to perform & therefore doesn't have quite the desired results.
The meat was very tender although not completely evenly so. The veg seemed over cooked.
The sauce/gravy was not very tasty, was very thin & not creamy at all.
(I wondered if to throw the rest away as it was so disappointing but I put in a Tupperware in the fridge overnight & looked at it the next day & it had thickened up & looked much better. I added some curry powder & warmed it up in a saucepan & when served with rice for two of us it was OK.
There was just enough left for one more helping, so it made exactly 4 very small servings. Probably not enough for more than 2 of you.
I would say that this model is ideal in size for 1 - 3 people. Just right for 2/3 very small servings, with a bit left over maybe for one persons lunch the next day. (this is assuming rice or potatoes or something is served with whatever is cooked in the slow cooker) but for a full main meal for average appetites would only serve 2 people.
The inner ceramic bowl is tall & round & quite utilitarian looking so you wouldn't want to have it on your table, better to serve on individual plates or in a more attractive serving bowl.
Models/makes of slow cookers not only look different, cook different amounts, have different functions, are different in ease of use etc., but will give different results, so don't think they all cook the same & make exactly the same gravy/sauce etc. They will vary in the thickness & creaminess of the sauce/gravy produced, the taste, & the even-ness of the cooked meat, also how they fare in keeping food warm ie if it dried out sauce or made meat dry on the outside, overcooked etc.
This one comes with very poor ultra basic manual & recipe leaflet.
You would need to purchase a slow cooker book with not only recipes but tips & instructions on how to use a slow cooker, adapt recipes for slow cooking etc which will cost you an extra approx £5 to £10 on top of the price you have already paid out.
Argos also suggests on their product page Q&A facility that you can purchase a simple plug in timer from Argos to use with it - yet more extra expense.
To use this slow cooker I have reviewed, you will ideally need to be at home with it most of the time - you may think what's the point in using a slow cooker if you are at home all the time but to get the same tenderness of meat you would need the main oven & fan if applicable going for many hours, which apart from the expense, the noise of a fan oven might get on your nerves.
It is best to start the slow cooker off at high temperature for at least ½ hour then turn down to low. If the lid rattles you will need to nudge it into position again. When cooking is completed it will not shut off automatically but will need you to do that & to turn the control to warm setting if you want to keep it serving temperature for a while, although this may dry the meat out and/or cause unwanted thickening to the sauce/ gravy as it's not a proper Keep Warm setting.
Although it can bubble away on it's own for the majority of hours, you will need to be there to turn it down after first ½ to 1 hour & I do not think I would feel happy to leave it totally unattended all day with the loose lid & especially if I was delayed in getting home unless a timer was used with it.
This cheap slow cooker does not produce the succulent results that more expensive auto & well sealed models do.
I think I would prefer to have a digital slow cooker with a programmable timer, auto shut off, keep warm facility, and able to use ceramic inner bowl in oven, on hob or in microwave & able to wash parts in dishwasher.
Unfortunately no one cooker seems to have all the required things, but choosing the functions that are important to you would be better than this one if you can afford the higher price (but take into account better manual & recipe book & tips/instructions & not having to buy a separate timer).
To cut a long story short - this slow cooker sort of does the job, but doesn't seal everything in & cook as slow cookers should. Basic functions only & small usable capacity. You get what you pay for!
What is it?
The Cookworks slow cooker is basically an oven that you are able to leave unattended. It's of a fairly decent build with a stainless decent casing although it is a little thin but for the money it's what you'd expect.
How much was it?
I got mine from Argos for £10 when it was on offer. Unfortunately it is not there anymore but the Internet is awash with offers should you decide to buy one.
What's it like to use?
Very simple, it comes with 3 options to cook the food, Low, High and Warm. Cooking in it is fairly foolproof as well. You simple add the food, some kind of hot liquid to cook it in and leave it to do it's own thing. They're perfect for stews and whole joints but they won't brown anything so you may want to consider frying food first to inject some colour into what you are making.
I find that I can't can do a stew for 4 people on a low heat and that can be left for a work day of about 8 hours without any problems. The main issue I have is how it cooks indiscriminately, it will cook broccoli just as much as beef which causes problems for texture and nutrition. As a result of that you will sometimes need to add food in stages.
The entire casserole dish can be removed for ease of serving and can just be placed in the centre of the table if needed, be aware that it will be very hot though so use a mat to put it on.
Yes, slow cookers are very economical and much more cost effective to run than a normal oven. If you're the kind of person that can plan ahead then this is perfect for you. Also these are great for cheaper joints of meat as the long cooking makes them more tender.
Although the food that is cooked in these is naturally very tender since it's been stewing in it's own juices for so long I find that you have to add strong flavours like onions and garlic to inject taste as it seems to leave the food after a day of cooking. Coming back on a winters evening to a lamb stew with dumplings after a hard day at work though is a luxury that I'll never give up, the slow cooker was worth the £10 for that dish alone.
They do a bigger size as well which is 6.5 liters, if you're cooking for more than 4 you may find that more useful.
When I fell pregnant with my little girl I got 'morning' sickness quite badly in the evenings and so preparing dinner was almost impossible for me to do. My lovely other half is a brilliant cook but works shifts and so was not always home to prepare an evening meal. Although I felt sick the worse thing I could do was not eat as that made me feel even worse. And so we invested in a slow cooker so that I could prepare meals in the morning and they would be ready by the evening ready to plate up.
The slow clooker we chose to buy was the Cook Works Slow Cooker. We bought it from Argos whilst on offer and paid less than £10 for it (18 months ago). This was the best £10 we have ever spent.
The Cookworks slow cooker is very basic and easy to use. There is one dial on it. You can turn it to either 'High', 'Low', 'Warm' or of course 'Off'. The ingredients are placed into the removable crock pot (easy to clean) and the lid is placed on the top. The cable and socket are a nice length but not too long that it gets in the way.
The slow cooker makes even the cheapest cut of meat tender, and delicious but the lid must not be taken off during the cooking time. The Slow cooker came with a small leaflet with lots of recipes in to give you ideas of what to cook. However there is lots of information and recipes on the internet so you will never be stuck on what to make. It makes life very easy and is very cheap to run also.
The best thing I have ever cooked in our slow cooker was a leg of turkey (very cheap from Asda, about £1.50), done in water, with carrots, celery and onion. This half poached/half steamed the turkey making it deliciously moist and it fell off of the bone. It also made a delicious stock which then was used in a risotto and a soup. Fantastic!
The worst thing I have ever made with the slow cooker was a spaghetti bolognese. I did not brown the mince off first and it came out most like processed spaghetti bolognese out of a can. The consisitency was horrid but it tasted ok.
I would recommend anyone and everyone to buy a slowcooker. Now that we have our daughter here it is so handy to be able to make a casserole in it in the morning whilst she has a nap, ready for the evening meal.
I bought this slow cooker a couple of years ago. I decided on a cheap one because I've bought so many gadgets over the years that I've been mad about for a few days, a few weeks maybe even a few months then they've ended up in a cupboard never to be used again! From the first time I used this (my first experience of a slow cooker) I was hooked and used it at least once a week - during the winter it was poss even 3 times a week! It is a fairly basic model but in my opinion has all you need. I have now upgraded to a larger model for 2 reasons - 1) I used it so much I wanted a larger model so I could freeze another family meal and 2) the crock pot developed a small crack. I wouldn't put that as a negative really to be honest - I paid £10 2 years ago and this must have been used hundreds of times!
I am currently on my second Cookworks slow cooker, after needing to upgrade to a bigger sized one as our family grew.
Both were bought from Argos, my first one is no longer available, I think they have changed it, but it was a smaller one that cost me £12.99. My latest one is a 6.5 litre one. The original price is £29.39, I managed to grab it on sale for £20, and I just had a look, and it has been reduced again, at the moment it is available for £14.69. I will add a link at the end in case anyone wants a look!
I use my slow cooker a lot, more so during winter as its good, hot food that takes little effort to prepare. In fact, I currently have a sausage casserole cooking away, filling my house with gorgeous smells and making me very hungry!
With a slow cooker, you get a base unit, which will usually have controls. This one has 4, low, medium, high, or auto. If I load mine up early in the morning, I will put it at auto, and maybe by about 4pm I will switch it to low, just to keep it warm until Im ready to dish up. If I dont load it till after 11am, I willput it at high to make sure its cooked for dinner time.
You also get a crock pot and a lid. The crock pot is where your food goes. The lid handle does get hot later on, so if I need to stir later, I make sure I use a tea towel to lift the lid to prevent burnt fingers!
Now,I tend to use the same recipes in mine. I have heard you can cook a whole roast in one,although I wouldnt have a clue where to start with that!
It is so simple to use and make food, I dnt add anything fancy, in fact, Ill give you a few of my recipes so you can see how simple it is.
Sausage Casserole (for a family of 5)
half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables
2 sachets of Colemans sausage Casserole mix
Add your veg, sausages and casserole mixes to the crock pot. Switch on. Stir as the day progreses. Serve.
The sausage casserole is one of my familys favourites, they absolutely love it and it really is as simple as that. Sometimes I will some chopped carrots and half a diced onion, but with just that recipe there, its beautiful.
500g diced braising beef
1 small bag of new potatos, chopped
Either half a bag of frozen veg mix, or some chopped vegetables of your choice
(My mum also buts some shallot onions in hers)
1 and a half pints of thick gravy
Again, just simply put all these ingrediants into the slow cooker. Cook for the day, and about an hour before serving, add some dumplings. They will take anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes to cook well.
I use lots of different meats and sauces with mine, but these are just a few ideas of what you can do and just how simple it is. You dont need fancy recipes to make lovely food, without all the preperation that involves spending hours in the kitchen.
A slow cooker is perfect for a busy family, or couple who work all day and dont have time to stand preparing food, and well, just everyone!
Argos catalogue number (I cant add the link :( : 422/8826
I have no idea how I lived without a slow cooker!
I bought this model when my fiancé and I first started living together as I'd heard it was a good way to turn cheap ingredients into great food. With money being quite tight and us both loving our food so much, this seemed a great compromise and the slow cooker was only around £13 so it seemed reasonable and a good investment. It's 3.5 litres so big enough too cook a full chicken or a 6-8 portion chilli or curry. I'd recommend it to households of up to 5 adults for everyday use.
The idea with a slow cooker is to put all your ingredients in it and abandon for a few hours or even all day, then come back at teatime and have a delicious meal already prepared. The cost of leaving the slow cooker switched on all this time is equivalent to that of running a light bulb apparently. I've certainly seen no increase in my consumption since this purchase.
There are various ideas about what's good practice in a slow cooker: some say if you are cooking meat then you should brown it before it goes in. I personally don't think this is necessary and have cooked many dishes with the meat thrown in raw. However, I think with red meat, browning before adding does contribute to the flavour of the finished dish.
Next the temperature. This cooker is quite average in that it has a high, low and warm setting. High is equivalent to simmering on the hob, low to the occasional bubble in a saucepan and warm is just that-it will keep the food warm but not really add to the cooking time. As a rule, it's a good idea to cook chicken and pork on High for a couple of hours at the start of the cooking due to the bacteria that needs to be killed off. Oh and the warm setting is also the one you use the heat your mulled wine at Christmas ;)
Next, ingredients. If you are making a dish with root vegetables (particularly carrots, I find) it is best to place these at the bottom of the dish so they catch up with the other ingredients in the cooking. Whatever you do, don't add too much liquid! Because the lid is on throughout the cooking process, very little water evaporates so what you begin with is almost what is left at the end. If what you are cooking needs a thick sauce, there are two ways to achieve this: add a thickening agent such as cornflour about an hour from the end of the cooking time, or take the lid off the slow cooker for the last half hour or so. You can also add lentils to thicken.
Many recipes will tell you to cook dishes for 6-9 hours, meaning that you can leave it on whilst you are at work. However, I usually only leave chicken or pork in for 5-6 hours as if it is a lean cut, it can go stringy if left longer. Beef on the other hand, the longer the better! Generally, cheaper, fattier cuts of meat are used in slow cooker recipes-this is because they respond well to the long, low heat-becoming tender and much more edible.
I consider stews to be the king of all slow cooker dishes. Take your ordinary recipe and cook it in the slow cooker and you will be amazed at the difference! Here are a couple of recipes of mine to get you started:
Beef, any cut, cut into chunks
Carrots, chopped into 1cm slices
Potatoes, chopped into approx 1 inch square pieces
any other veg you like (beware swede will taste the whole dish)
Mixed herbs/bouquet Garni
Salt and pepper
Dash of Worcestershire.
Chuck everything in and cook on high for 3 hours and turn down to low for four, or cook on low for 7-9 hours. Add dumplings for the last 35-40 mins if desired.
The beauty of slow cooking is that anything goes, substitute beef for pork or chicken, throw in cider, red wine or ale along with the stock (remember not too much liquid).
Chicken pieces (any jointed pieces or simply chunks of breast)
As much smoked paprika as you like
Any veg you like, potatoes if desired
Chuck everything in (are you sensing a theme here?!) except the cream. Add this about 20 minutes from the cooking time. Excellent served with crusty bread!
My all time favourite though is a whole chicken done in the slow cooker. Do whatever you would normally but no butter or oil to be added. Don't put any liquid in the slow cooker, just bung in the chicken and leave for 5 hours (I recommend a model such as this one as it's oval and therefore easier to fit the chicken in, but I've done it in a round one with a bit of squishing). You can also use the slow cooker to cook things in a style other than "Stew"-cook a cake by putting the tin inside the slow cooker. Or make rice pudding as you would do in the oven. I have made hotpot before, making the stew part first and adding potato slices for the last hour or so of cooking. Delish!
This model is basic (some come with a timer and a delay switch and extra settings) but it is everything you will need. There is now a newer, smaller round version which seems very reasonable. This is the most user-friendly kitchen appliance you will ever use.
Give it a go and you'll never look back!
I purchased this slow cooker on a whim last year in my pre moneysaving expert days and unlike the juicer acquired at the same time, i have found it not only incredibly nice to look at but also fabulous to use.
Being a mum to two children under the age of 2, it is a fabulous, quick and easy way to cook. I can also ensure that my children eat very healthily (no packet sauces for us anymore) and cheaply (cheaper cuts of meat taste just as fabulous as the more expensive ones). I also use mine for making home-made stock ensuring that my meat joints s-t-r-e-t-c-h to several meals and it always makes my kitchen smell very lovely indeed!!!
I have only recently begun to use my slow cooker for puddings as well and my entire family absolutely adore all the old fashioned puddings i am able to knock up on a morning whilst sterilising bottles or loading the dishwasher (it really is that quick and simple).
It is the most used appliance in my kitchen, alongside my breadmaker and i would definitely recommend it.