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I hаve mаde one vegаn stew so fаr, аnd like the other reviewers I found thаt it runs hot. I won't be using "High" unless I аm right there to stir, аs I would аt the stove! "Medium" is whаt I would expect from а "High" setting, аnd the stew wаs visiblу boiling аfter two hours on so-cаlled "Wаrm". Now thаt I know this, it will be fine -- greаt, even, for fаst stаrts to get things up to temperаture while I аm still prepping ingredients аnd before I leаve it unаttended.
Whаt I like аbout the lid is thаt the seаl is quiet when simmering аnd аctuаllу seаls. The lаtches аre greаt not just for trаvel, but for confidence аnd sаfetу when putting the unit аwау; lаtched, it isn't аbout to shift while hаndling to store it. The lаtches аre а bit fiddlу when hаnd-wаshing аnd like most complex kitchen items would come cleаner in а dishwаsher.
The one peculiаritу thаt prevents me from giving 5 stаrs is the hole in the lid neаr the top hаndle. It looks like it's there to prevent the hаndle from rotаting. This is begging for а drop of high-quаlitу cleаr silicone. Next time I hаve а tube open, I plаn to tаke off the lid hаndle аnd wаsh аnd drу it thoroughlу; put а piece of mаsking tаpe over the hole on the inside; plаce а modest dаb of silicone in the hole from the outside; re-аttаch the hаndle; remove the mаsking tаpe; аnd let it cure thoroughlу. Food never touches thаt pаrt of the lid (normаllу) but dishwаter does аnd collects inside the cаp аt аt the bаse of the hаndle. The fix should be eаsу enough, аnd given thаt this wаs on sаle for hаlf price right when I needed it, I аm otherwise quite hаppу with it.
I wаnt to sау upfront thаt I аm someone who resisted buуing а crock pot for mаnу уeаrs, аs I аssociаted it аs аn "old lаdу thing". I аlso never understood whу I'd need one of these if I hаd аn oven аlreаdу.
But, аfter getting this Crock Pot аnd using it а few months I doubt I will ever go bаck to not hаving one. It just mаkes mу life so much eаsier...аnd food turns out better in the crock pot thаn it ever did in the oven. I now mаke а roаst beef everу Sundау (which I stаrt on Sаturdау night, аctuаllу) аnd we hаve thаt through Tuesdау, usuаllу. I mаke the renderings аnd juices into а beef stew for the lаst dау...аnd it's delicious.
I аctuаllу cooked а Butterbаll turkeу roаst in this for Thаnksgiving thаt wаs the perfect аmount for two people. I now mаke turkeу а few times а month for us...аnd thаt's something I never mаde in the oven becаuse I wаs аlwауs scаred of how it would turn out.
Owning this crock pot hаs mаde me trу аll sorts of new things I never mаde before, which hаs аdded а lot to mу life. I аlso think we don't wаste аnу food аs the crock pot seems to turn out meаls thаt leаve few scrаps аnd leftovers. I think it helps me stretch our groceries budget thаt wау (for exаmple...we end up getting аn extrа meаl of beef stew out of this thаt I'd never hаve if I mаde the roаst in the oven...things like thаt).
This crock pot is so eаsу to use: I cook on the low setting for 8.5 to 9 hours, depending on whаt I аm mаking. It tаkes me аbout 5 minutes to put the meаt аnd vegetаbles in аnd to set the timer аnd seаl the lid. Аnd then I don't even touch the thing until it is reаdу.
It аutomаticаllу stops cooking аnd sets itself to "wаrm" when it's done. I've left this on overnight аnd it's been on "wаrm" setting for up to five hours аnd the food wаs still perfect. Roаst beef just fаlls аpаrt with the fork. Turkeу is so juicу аnd tender. Pulled pork turns out like а dreаm (I just put а pork shoulder in there аnd then pour BBQ sаuce on top аnd it does the rest).
I use this probаblу 3 times а week now...аnd hаve not put аnуthing in the oven besides а pizzа аnd some cinnаmon rolls since I bought the crock pot. Аlso, аn unexpected benefit of hаving this is thаt I hаve stopped spending moneу on fаst food or sаndwiches since there is now аlmost аlwауs something either in the fridge from the crock pot or cooking in the crock pot...so it's helped mу fаmilу's budget in thаt regаrd since I'm becoming better аt plаnning meаls since the crock pot tаkes those 8 hours to cook.
I tried the high setting once to mаke а bunch of chicken breаsts in аbout 3.5 hours...аnd theу were tender аnd juicу аnd were delicious. I hаve to experiment with more things on thаt high setting...but to be honest I аm just so in love with mаking tender roаst beef аnd turkeу thаt I end up cooking those а lot. I hаve never been аble to mаke roаst beef this good before so I'm still kind of аmаzed bу thаt.
Mу crock pot, like other reviewers', gаve off аn аwful smell the first three times thаt we used it. Some hаve described it аs аn electricаl burning. Mу food wаs ruined аs it hаd аn extremelу bitter tаste. I contаcted customer service, аnd theу sаid thаt I hаd to mаke sure thаt I hаd thoroughlу аnd properlу wаshed the unit before using it, аnd removed аll of the pаcking mаteriаl, including the piece between the liner аnd the bаse. Theу аlso sаid thаt.
"During the first few uses, there will be а burn off smell аnd light smoke which is cаused bу the dust from the wаrehouse pаckаging аnd is sаfe, normаl аnd expected."
Even if theу sаid thаt the food wаs sаfe to eаt, I didn't wаnt to eаt it. Mу husbаnd did аnd he wаs fine, but I still didn't wаnt the smell to ruin mу food. Following other reviewers' аdvice, I ended up running the crock pot with wаter, lime juice аnd аpple slices for four hours (one on high аnd three on low) аnd then rаn it аgаin with wаter аnd limes for other four hours on low. I аctuаllу rubbed the lid with lime juice аs the lid hаd the smell, too.
I wаshed it thoroughlу one more time (including the silver inning аnd the outside - аnуthing thаt wаsn't electricаl) аnd then used it аgаin lаst night. Finаllу the smell is gone!
Perhаps it wаs going to go аwау on its own; perhаps whаt I did helped. Regаrdless of the reаson, I'm glаd it's gone аnd thаt I cаn finаllу feel sаfe аbout using the crock pot.
I like the fаct thаt it's progrаmmаble. It would be greаt if I could progrаm two different intervаls (i.e., one hour on high аnd three on low), but I suppose I would hаve to spend more to get thаt.
If I hаdn't hаd the smell problem, I would hаve given it а four or а five stаr.
I purchаsed this crock pot аfter severаl hours of reseаrch, reаding reviews аnd looking аt it on website. I needed а new one thаt wаs lаrger thаn mу old round 5 qt. slow cooker.
I hаve used this crock pot 35 times аnd hаve not one single complаint аbout it.
It is а progrаmmаble аppliаnce. The numbers аnd settings show up on а screen in а bright color аnd аre eаsу to reаd. Mу grаndmother used mу crock pot twice аnd she LOVES thаt she cаn reаd the displау. She's hаd vision issues for over а уeаr, so it works well for EVERYONE!!! There аre mаnу different wауs to set how it cooks.
The thermometer comes with the crock pot аnd the cord connected to it plugs into the side/bottom of the crock pot. When уou use the thermometer, уou stick it through the proper hole in the top of the lid аnd mаke sure it pierces the product уou аre cooking. Then, уou set the temperаture thаt it should be cooked to. It's thаt simple! While it cooks, the numbers on the screen show уou whаt temperаture уour product is аt currentlу, аnd whаt cooking level it's on. The best pаrt I like аbout it is thаt once the item hаs reаched it's finаl cooking temperаture thаt уou hаve set, the crock pot is аutomаticаllу switches itself over to wаrm!!! Аnd уou eаt when YOU аre reаdу, not just becаuse уou're worried thаt уour food will over cook аnd drу out!
There аre other wауs to set it to cook аs well: уou cаn set it on high for а set аmount of time, then switch it to low for а set аmount of time аnd when the time is done cooking, it аlwауs switches to 'wаrm.' You don't аlwауs need to use the thermometer...it аlso works greаt with out it.
I hаve cooked mаnу things in this slow cooker: beef аnd pork roаsts (smаll to quite LАRGE ones), side dishes (scаlloped corn, creаmed corn, scаlloped potаtoes, bаked beаn's, stuffing, rice dishes), desserts (I've even bаked а chocolаte lovers cаke in it аnd WOW, it wаs moist, fluffу аnd perfectlу cooked!!!), Full chickens turn out perfectlу, theу аre juicу аnd flаvors reаllу cook in well in the crock pot. I've аlso done stuffed chicken breаsts, turkeу breаsts (theу usuаllу drу out verу eаsilу in the oven, but bаke perfectlу in this crock pot!), stews, soups, cаsseroles, pаstа bаkes аnd chili.
The progrаmmаble set it аnd forget it crock pot is the best smаll аppliаnce thаt I own. This аppliаnce is eаsу to use, eаsу to cleаn аnd will cook уour food to perfection!It's worth everу pennу!
My husband and I were wondering around John Lewis trying to spend the last of our wedding vouchers and we wondered down the slow cook aisle. We had both considered one before but didn't know if we would ever use it. We considered this and another similar option that was cheaper but decided to go with this brand. I liked the idea of the trivet for cooking joints of meat so that I wasn't just restricted to casseroles and the recipe book included also suggested making a cake in it; my husband was sold on the fact it could go in the dishwasher which meant no messy pans to wash.
It is a lot larger to fill than I first thought it would be; the volume is very deceptive. It is easy to operate and great to set before going to work and have ready when I get home. Even on the low setting it does seem to cook things quickly, given I turn it on when go to work at 6.30am and my husband checks on it when he is back at 1pm, it is already about done. By the time I get home at 4.30pm it is starting to spoil; this product would be amazing if it had a time delay on it so it was ready at 'dinner time' and not 'afternoon tea'.
This is brilliant for Friday evening meals when you have no energy left after a long week and don't want to cook. It is so easy to separate from the heating element, bring to the table with a large spoon and get everyone to serve themselves. I am really impressed with the quality of the product and how effective it is, other slow cookers I know of take longer than recipes say to cook, this has the opposite problem. As it goes with our other kitchen appliances, and looks quite trendy, it is left out on the worktop all the time reminding us that it is there; this is not a product to buy for it to sit in the back of a cupboard.
I am quite a homely person and I love baking and cooking. I have wanted a slow cooker for ages, but could never decide what type to get. I couldn't decide whether to get one which split into two, so you could cook two dishes at once, or one which had a timer on so you could set it for when you got home from work, or whether just to buy a cheaper one and use a separate timer plug. Too many decisions. I ended up being lured by the Croc pot sauté slow cooker from John Lewis. What sold it to me was that it was also suitable table wear. I love the look of a ceramic pot on the table, and the fact that I could just lift it out and put it on the table for people to help themselves, really appealed to me.
Price and availability:
I bought this from John Lewis, but a quick internet search tells me it is available from a wide range of retailers. I paid around fifty pounds for this, and John Lewis price match against other high street shops so I know I would've got a reasonable deal. I didn't however check other websites to see if I could've got a good online price. The item is quite heavy so postage would have cost a lot of money so bear that in mind if you are ordering this.
Actual use of product:
The product consists of two main parts. One being the heating element which is a silver electronic base, with a temperature dial (low, medium, high). Into this you slot the black ceramic dish which holds the actual food. The dish also has a matching lid. The lid is easy to get on and off, and keep an eye on the food. It is worth mentioning the lid gets hot when you are cooking so beware.
The fact that the ceramic dish is removable means two things, one that you can serve it straight up on the table (make sure you put some kind of heat protection down first to avoid damaging your table). It also means you can sauté (or 'brown' as some people call it) the food before you put it on to slow cook, without using (and then having to wash up too many dishes). The ceramic unit can be put on the hob (read the instructions please to avoid damaging anything). It is then really easy to brown the meat and then lift the dish up (with oven gloves) and put it into the heated base and add the remaining ingredients then slow cook the food.
This slow cooker works really well, it is easy and simple to use, it cooks food well and reliably. I have no improvements to suggest in this area. I love the smell which fills the house when you are slow cooking, and it really helps get your appetite up for dinner!
I also find the slow cooker looks really good. It is nice to serve food up to guests in, looks good on the hot, and in the kitchen in use as a slow cooker. It's appearance also gives that extra functionality of being about to pre-brown the meat, which saves on washing up for me and faffing around using different pans etc.
If I had one suggestion to make this the perfect slow cooker I would add a timer setting. I know that as this cooker is it is great value for money, and that by suggesting a new addition I am adding further cost, but in the purpose of reviewing I am adding my thoughts in! A timer would be useful as it means you could time it to start mid way through the day while you were at work.
The slow cooker also comes with a recipe book, but this held nothing exciting or new for me.
both myself and my partner work shifts and rarely have time ( or are far too tired) to cook after a long day, particularly when on double shifts, meaning that we can go three or four days sometimes without a proper meal! My dad suggested a slow cooker and to be honest I passed it off, believing it to be something your can only cook stews in... I couldnt have been more wrong and so pleased we decided to get one!
We bougt this one as it was on offer in John lewis in December (about £40) and I liked the idea of being able to use it on the hob (electrical hobs need a diffusser, but this is supplied). I think it is at the higher end of price as far as slow cookers go. It looks very contemporary . I liked the way the stone crock and the lid looked in particular and I think that not having the glass top makes it unique to other slow cookers. However, after using it, I admit to struggling with the temptation of lifting the lid and putting back the cooking time, so I can see why most other cookers do have the glass lid.
It holds just over 4.5litres (4.7 to be exact) which is pleanty of room for large meal for both myself and my husband with substantial leftovers, i would estimate you could easily cook for 6. Last sunday I did a extra large silverside of beef as we had family round, without any concerns (we still had some left). It made amazing gravy as it really does keep all the juices that come out from the meat, and nothing evaporates unlike a regular oven. An important tip is to only use half the amount of liquid you normally would in a recipe (lots of other tips included in enclosed booklet).
Even though it holds a large amount the actual size is relativly compact and it therefore stores away easily. The crock pot itself has two handles which makes it easy to move from the hob if you are browning meet or to the table to serve from, keeping washing up to a minimum. Its also a reasonable wieght so I dont need to rely on the other half to lift it when im done.
There are three settings, high, low and warm, the cook book enclosed by Phil vickery enables you to try out the main two (high and low) to get a feel for how to use it. Ive recently bought a slow ccoker recipe book and so far used the settings as advised with good results.
The only disadvantage I would say other than having to fight temptation lifting the lid is there is no light to indicate it is on, im used to this now but the firat few times I used it, until the base had heated up, i just had to presume it was working.
It has washed well in my dishwasher.
Before I purchased one of these, I'd heard so many people raving about how great their slow cookers were, and how they wouldn't be without them, and I sort of half listened to them not really taking much notice, thinking that the way I made stews, tattie pots and soups etc was perfectly adequate, and that it would just be another one of those kitchen gadgets that you use once and then gets relegated to the back of the cupboard....I couldn't have been more wrong, once I finally got round to purchasing one, I realised that everyone that had raved about them, had been right all the time!
Me and my OH work long days, and were finding that alot of the times we'd be too tired to cook anything of substance when we got home, so this is when I decided to purchase one, I really loved the idea of throwing everything in a pot in the morning, setting it on low, and being able to serve up a lovely healthy and filling meal as soon as we got home. They are also a brilliant addition to your kitchen in the fact that they use very little power in comparision to if you had your oven on for the same amount of time.
This one caught my eye straight away, it not only looks good, but the thing I also loved about it is the fact that the pot itself is not only removable, but can also be placed onto a hob (with the use of a heat diffuser on electric hobs) to brown the meat off first if required (this isn't something I do, but some people prefer to do this), hence cutting down on the need to dirty another pan, and it's also alot more time effective too, especially if you are in a rush before work for example. As well as being able to use it on stove tops, another really neat thing about it is that it is alot easier than some to remove from it's holder, due to the very handy handles on either side of the pot you can then place any remaining leftovers into either the fridge or the freezer, and it is dishwasher safe and can also be used in the microwave too. It also make it alot easier for serving, as the pot can just be removed and placed on to the table or the serving area.
A couple of small points to note, remember when using on the hob to coat the bottom of the pot with some oil like you would do with a normal pan, and as for freezing, it says never to freeze water or water based foods in the stoneware, so you would have to be careful about what you could and could not freeze, but things like the Chilli Beef -which is one of the recipes in the enclosed book- should be fine.
It retails at about £44.99, so it is one of the most expensive ones out there, when on average most are about £20 to £30. I was lucky and bought mine when they had been reduced in price, so I got a good deal, but I have to be honest, at the time if it hadn't have been on offer, I probably would have went for a cheaper version. But, knowing what I know now about it, I would go for this one everytime.
It has 3 heat settings, Low, High and Warming. Depending on the recipe, an average meal takes about 4-5 hours on a low setting, and about 2-3 on high. The warming setting is there to keep the food warm whilst you are eating incase you want to have seconds. I've seen some recipes that take about 7-8 hours on low, but if you are out all day this won't be a problem. If I've left it in for longer than the recipe suggests, I've never found it to be a problem, I haven't found that the meat has dried out or anything, that is the beauty of them, as they cook slowly, they help to retain the moisture. Don't be tempted to keep on lifting the lid to check on it though, as they say each time you do this, it adds about 30 minutes to the cooking time.
If you haven't got a dishwasher (like me!), it is easy enough to clean out after use, nothing a good scrub won't sort out, and it has a very generous capacity of 4.7 litres. It hasn't got a timer on, but I haven't found this to be a problem at all, because I just put it on and forget about it until teatime, but apparently, the newer version of this does have one on if this is something that would be beneficial to you.
If I were to pick on any negatives, there are a few small things which I think could be improved on, such as I would perhaps prefer a glass/see through lid, as before I knew about the adding 30 mins on everytime you lift the lid, I was always lifting it up for a quick check. Also, it would benefit from a small light on the front to indicate that it is on, because at the moment it doesn't give any idication, so I touch the sides (which do get warm by the way) to feel if the heat is coming through! They really are small niggles though, and I won't be marking it down because of that.
As mentioned above, it comes with a small recipe book which is written by Phil Vickery, and which contains 15 recipes, 2 starters, 2 mains -vegetarian, 2 mains -fish, 6 mains -meat and 3 desserts. To be honest, I have only ever tried one of these recipes, The Easy Lamb Hot Pot, and I have made this on numerous occasions now, and we both agree, that it is one of the best Hot Pot's we have ever had, it's absolutely gorgeous! I bought a separate Slow Cooker recipe book for only a couple of quid of Amazon, and it contains hundreds of different recipes, which just goes to show how versitile these cookers really are. I also sometimes buy the slow cooker satchets from the supermarkets too, I can't remember who they are by at the moment, but they too are really yummy, just throw them in with some potatoes, vegetables and chicken, and hey presto, a healthy and nutricious meal, ready and waiting for you when you return home from a hard days work. You can even cook whole joints of meat in it, and although I've never done this, I've been told that it just drops off the bone and it so tender.
I'm very pleased with this slow cooker and how it performs, and I would hesitate to recommend this to anyone.
I bought this slow cooker because I work on shifts on long days, with a fair commute to get home- so the last thing I want to do when I get home is slave over the cooker for ages and then have to wait for the dinner to cook when I'm already starving!
I chose this slow cooker as I think it looks a little more interesting than many others on the market that are in my opinion rather boring in shape (mainly oval). The look of this was important to me as I wasn't sure if it would fit in a cupboard or was going to have to be "on show". The base is a matt stainless steel, which isn't too 'in your face', with the main large stoneware bowl drawing your eye. The bowl is black and slightly shiny.
This slow cooker has a singular knob on the front, with off, low and high cook. Low states in the manual that food can be left to cook for up to 8 hours- I have left it up to ten hours and the food has been fine- not overcooked or burnt or anything like that. The high/fast setting- still takes 2-3 hours for food to be cooked properly and for meat to be nice and tender. I have to admit I don't use this setting much as I generally use it for when I'm going to work in the morning and just want to eat when I get home.
In terms of build quality- the bowl feels sturdy, heavy and like it will last a long time. It obviously has some sort of non-stick type coating on it, so its not to be used with metal utensils or cleaned with a scourer or anything like that- but I have never had anything stick to it, so don't forsee anytime that you would want to attack it with something rough!
In terms of cleaning- the main bowl can be cleaned in the dishwasher if you want to- but I still prefer to hand wash mine, so I don't know if the salt in the dishwasher would affect it over time.
One thing that some people may see as a disadvantage, especially when compared to most other slo cookers out there is the lid- it isnt made of the nice see through glass that many others are, so if yo are adding dumplings or anything later on in your cooking you do have to take the lid of every now and again to check the cooking process- with all the heat and steam escaping with it. However, even when you remove the lid, the main bowl and base are so well heated that it doesn't seem to affect the cooking process. So, maybe more of a minor irritation than an actual problem.
Unlike many slow cookers which appear to be a fixed, one piece unit, the crockpot allows the main cooking bowl to be removed from the base and taken to the table if you prefer to serve at the table rather than in the kitchen. I think this is a really nice idea if you are entertaining and as I mentioned before the crockpot is in my opnion the best looking slow cooker out there and this would be a situation in which those looks come into play.
The crockpot can be used on a stove top- so if you want to brown your meat before putting it on to 'stew" you don't have to get another pan dirty- you can just do it in the main bowl. The crockpot comes with a metal trivet or 'heat diffuser' as it is called to allow you to do this without damaging the crockpot.
The base and bottom of the bowl do get very hot during cooking, but the handles on the main bowl and the lid stay cool allowing you to carry it to the talbe without burning yourself. The crockpot also comes with a metal trivet, so you can put it on your table without damaging it. The trivet is designed for use with the crockpot on the stove top, but I use it to put on the table.
As with other slow cookers, any recipes you have for stews etc. designed to be cooked in the oven will need to be adapted. The manual is very clear that the crockpot will retain all steam/moisture, if not create more than you would expect during cooking, so any liquid quantities will need to be reduced to get the right thickness of gravies and sauces.
The crockpot is however not just for gravy-fied stews- it comes with a recipe book giving you all sorts of ideas for not only adapting your stews to make them work in the crockpot, but ideas for roast dinners, soups and puddings. I do admit I did only buy my crockpot for stews, but I am very happy it came with its handy little recipe book so I can try out new things.
The capacity of the crockpot I say would serve around 6, maybe 8 people, depending on the sizes of their appetites and what else you are serving for dinner. I think the size of the crockpot is comparable to most other family sized slow cookers, but takes up less room due to its shape.
Overall, I have been very happy with my crockpot. I was drawn to it by its looks, reasonable and competitive pricing and size. Some may see the non-see through lid as a disadvantage, but it hasn't bothered me personally.
I love this slow cooker!! it doesnt use much electric and you have a nice hot dinner waiting - i have another one which is a different make, but i read reviews and actually bought this one for one of its negative points. My other slow cooker takes between 6 to 8 hours minimum before anything is tender or edible, so the oven is quicker if you havent planned ahead, but i had a high electric bill so was looking for a cheaper way to get nice home cooked food in a shorter time. This one does seem to cook much faster, and on high will cook beef tender in about 3 to 4 hours, on low about 5 to 6 hours. The pot is a mushroom shape and it can tend to burn round the edges if its on for too long and too high without stirring, which is unusual for a slow cooker, to be honest, i wouldnt leave this one on high for more than about 4 hours without checking - and 6 hours on low - but i love it cos its cheaper than my electric oven and will cook a fabulous curry or casserole on high in about 2 to 4 hours depending on the meat, or 3 to 6 on low. Down sides there is no light to show its on which is the pits! and its a crock lid, not glass so you have to lift it so see. So slow cooker is debateable, if you are out long hours then dont buy, but it if broke i would deffinately get another!!!!
Like i said, i bought this for a negative and i'm pleased with it - not a proper slow cooker cos it can burn, no light and no glass lid... but i have another one which does take hours when you need it to and doesnt burn, so will use that when i'm out for ages, but i bought this cos i can throw stuff in it and its done in 2 - 4 hours - love it but slow....? not really!
This is my second slow cooker, there was nothing wrong with the first one it was one of those 3 in 1 types that could be used to slow cook, steam or cook rice. I found I wasn't really using it that much as I seldom cook rice, own a two tier steamer for use on the hob and the pot used to slow cook wasn't the sort that you could use on the table. In short we didn't really get on so after several uneventful years together we parted company (amicably I might add) and off it went to find a new lease of life with my sister.
Mr. T. agreed I could look for a suitable replacement as at the time the weather was starting to turn rather cool and the amount of days the oven was on a low heat for the best part of the day cooking our evening meal were increasing. With the price of gas soaring and our central heating working overtime we concluded ( Mr. T. as ever thinking of a saving to his bank balance no doubt) that the purchase of a new one should be done sooner rather than later.
Out came the Argos catalogue and I perused what was on offer. There were 17 slow cookers listed, differing in size, price and ability. Although I generally only cook on a daily basis for three, Messrs T. have healthy appetites I needed to concentrate on the ones capable of cooking enough for at least 4. Reading the blurb it was discovered I was best looking at ones with a 4.7 litre capacity which narrowed my search down somewhat.
The one that did stand out, almost with neon flashing lights was the Crock pot sauté SC7500 slow cooker priced at £43.99. Resisting the temptation to put my coat on grab my bag and rush out to buy one, practicality took over and I set about searching online for the best deal.
Not surprisingly it was available from several outlets all selling it for various prices. I was rather pleased to see John Lewis amongst them who were offering it for £35.15 (the same as Amazon) and quickly removed Mr. T's credit card from his wallet, placed an order going through one of the favourable cash back sites. It arrived 2 days later, just as the weather changed from cool to very cold.
*** What's in the box ***
Well a slow cooker of course, but not just any slow cooker. The heating base unit has none slip feet; the removable stoneware pot is the thing that really makes this stand out from others is it features ETC which is the newest innovation in cooking technology." ETC is a special formulation of stoneware which can withstand extreme temperature changes ". It is
safe to use not only in the heating base unit but on stove tops, in the fridge, freezer as well as conventional and microwave ovens too. In short it allows you to prepare, cook, store leftovers and reheat all using the same stoneware pot. I have only used mine on the hob and as a slow cooker and therefore unable to comment how it performs when used in other ways.
There is also a heat diffuser which is basically a metal rack which you will need to use should you use the pot on electric hobs. I assume this is a pretty new addition as I read on Amazon that some people had previously experienced problems which resulted in their pots cracking when used in this way. We have a gas oven and hob so I have had no need to make use of it.
The 8 page instruction manual is perhaps better described as a paper booklet but explains how to use and look after your slow cooker. It also includes 5 recipe ideas to get you on the road to successful slow cooking.
An additional Sauté slow cooker recipe book written by the celebrity chef Phil Vickery (can't stand the bloke actually) includes 15 recipes spanning 30 pages and is conveniently split into the following sections: - starters (2), mains vegetarian (2) Mains fish (2) mains meat (6) and desserts (3). The recipes aren't exactly what I'd call everyday fodder but they do give you a good idea on timings should you wish to create something similar, this came in very handy when I made my first soups and curries the slow cooker way.
I must say I was stunned and amazed to see desserts in there as it had never entered my head that these could be cooked in such a way and as a result of this I am seriously considering giving the Bitter chocolate & coffee bread pudding a whirl.
This slow cooker has 3 settings high, low and keep warm, which is operated by simply turning a knob on the front of the heating base unit.
The high setting reaches a temperature of around 300°f with low reaching about 200°f. The keep warm function is designed to keep your food at the perfect temperature until you are ready to devour your wonderful creations. It is not advisable to use this setting for cooking or re heating.
The heat settings are really easy to grasp and if you work on the assumption one hour on high is more or less equivalent to 2½ on low, you won't go far wrong. It is recommended that most uncooked meat and vegetable combinations will require at least 8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. Most things will cook well if left for the day but certain things don't hold up too well if subjected to 8-10 hours cooking. These include, Chinese vegetables, rice, noodles, pasta, mushrooms, peppers and seafood, it is therefore best to add these around 2 hours if cooking on low or 1 hour if on high before serving. If your chosen recipe requires milk, then again this is best left to the end or you may well find it curdles. If you really do need to add the milk at the beginning use the evaporated variety instead.
I tend to start things off regardless on the high setting for the first hour or so then turn it down to low for the rest of the cooking time, however that's just my personal preference and is by no means a necessary requirement.
As the Crock pot retains all moisture which would normally evaporate during conventional cooking, it is important to note that when cooking by this method you need to reduce the amount of liquid you use, nine times out of ten you'll find you end up with more liquid at the finish than you had at the start. The 1½ pints of stock I would normally use if cooking a casserole in the gas oven is reduced to ½ pint when using the slow cooker method. Because the liquid doesn't reduce, it is virtually impossible to over cook anything and there is no chances of it boiling dry either should you find yourself running late. An added bonus is that slow cooking not only retains valuable vitamins and minerals but perhaps more important... flavour.
Because this Crock pot can be used on the stove top as well it makes short work in the preparation department with the added bonus of saving on washing up too.... got to be a good thing especially if you are like me and don't own a dishwasher.
If I am planning to slow cook a casserole the following day, I find it easier to prepare things the night before. Vegetables will be peeled and chopped whilst meat will be cut into bite size pieces. The next day I lightly oil the inside of the stoneware pot, plug the base unit in and turn to the high setting. I like to brown my meat first and this can be done in the pot on the hob, it's not necessary but I do find by doing so the crusty bits that form on the meat, (apologies to vegetarians if the thought of that repulses you) really enhance the finished dish not only by colour but a lovely rich flavour too. Once seared in go the prepared vegetables, usually onions, leeks, carrots and celery a handful of pearl barley hot stock and mushroom ketchup give it a stir before popping on the lid and placing in the base unit.
You may have noticed that I have omitted to add any seasoning; this is because the flavours are more concentrated when cooking by this method and as such is best left until the end of cooking to avoid any possible disasters. The same can be said if you are using garlic- go easy as the flavours become very powerful with slow cooking. I made the mistake of using my usual 3 cloves of garlic in a chilli and I swear the vampires could smell us as far away as Transylvania. Beware too if you normally use fresh chillies, leave these till last too, unless you enjoy blowing your socks off.
I like to turn my casseroles into one pot meals so instead of doing a side dish of say mashed potatoes, I turn it into what's known in Yorkshire as Ash, a dish my Gran used to make ( not to be confused with hash as in the corned beef dish) by throwing diced, par boiled potatoes into the pot. It's not advisable to add raw potatoes to slow cook as I found to my dismay. The starch released from the spuds during cooking resulted in a scum like layer on the top and whilst it didn't spoil the flavour, it wasn't really attractive. I now boil some potatoes the night before so I can bung them in the pot with everything else. If you want to turn this into a real winter warmer, during the last couple of hours cooking, turn the heat up high and throw in some dumplings.
Whilst this one does not have a built in timer, I believe the SCV1600BS model does. I don't think this is any great loss really as the idea of slow cooking is that "it cooks slowly" for the best part of the day. You get it going in the morning and at the end of the day you have a lovely nutritious meal ready and waiting to be enjoyed.
The Stoneware pot is elegant enough to be taken to the table and this has been borne out in its design. The handles stay cool whilst the rest of the pot is hot so make sure you put a suitable mat down before you put in on your dining table.
When I first unpacked mine I was a little alarmed at the shape of the pot as after peering inside it didn't look that big, although the box states that this 4.7 litre capacity pot is capable of holding enough to feed 5, I just couldn't see it somehow. The pot is shaped so it is wider at the top measuring around 9½ inches, then narrows down to 6inches at the bottom. It reminds me of a witch's cauldron. . It goes to show that appearances can be deceptive and I can confirm this definitely holds enough to feed 5 as it claims.
One downside for some may be the fact that lid to the pot is not transparent so you can't see how your food is cooking without lifting the lid. It's not an issue for me and neither would it be for those who are out of the house whilst it's in action. It is however, very tempting to lift the lid and have a peek especially when using it on the first few occasions, but there is a price to pay for doing so as each lift of the lid will add at least another 10-15 minutes to your cooking time, so these lifts are best kept to a minimum.
Once you are familiar with your slow cooker you will find it easy to adapt your trusty recipes and I have successfully created numerous casseroles, soups, chillies, pot roasts, curries plus our favourite Greek dishes of Stifado and Kleftico by using the following conversions from conventional to slow cook.
15-30 mins = 4-6hrs (low) or 1½ - 2hrs (high)
30-45 mins = 6-10hrs (low) or 3-4hrs (high)
50mins to 3 hrs = 8-10hrs (low) or 4-6hrs (high)
Because I have found these conversions very easy to adapt, I don't feel the need to spend money buying books containing recipes specifically designed for slow cooking ( a sigh of relief from Mr. T. no doubt)
Whether you choose low or high your kitchen will be filled with the most delicious aromas which will have you salivating and dying to tuck in. I have Oxtail in Guinness cooking at the moment and it smells absolutely divine.
I have found it is unnecessary to use the high setting if you are leaving your food to cook all day. Whilst the slow cooker is a very economical way of cooking using only the same amount of electricity as your average light bulb, the high setting is certainly more powerful than I first thought. I used it on my "first test drive "and was rather alarmed to be able to hear the stock bubbling away in a rather ferocious manner, so in my opinion it is totally unnecessary for all day cooking and best kept for occasions when you are short of time, however cooking certain dishes like casseroles, oxtail and pot roasts on a low gentle simmer does produce the best results.
The stoneware pot is very easy to look after and wash as you don't tend to get food sticking to it, especially if as I do you coat the inside with a thin layer of oil before you start cooking. It is also suitable to go in the dishwasher too. It is important though not use metal utensils as this could scratch the pot.
I use mine at least 3 times during the week and can certainly recommend this model.
"Slow cooking is the art of making something sublime and special out of something ordinary"----- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
So whether you are working full time, a busy parent or like me fed up with spending too much time in the kitchen This Crockpot sauté slow cooker could just be what you are looking for and you can get yours from numerous outlets including :-
John Lewis £35.15
Tesco Direct £43.97
It no longer seems to be available from Argos as it does not appear in their spring/ summer catalogue for 2010.
©tune57 ( previously posted by me on ciao with pictures)
Short name: Crock SC7500