Comments: Cook's delight or just a crock?

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Crockpots take getting used to. As you probably know, I prefer the pressure cooker--the same idea, worked in the opposite way, but i like my crockpot, too.

Here are a couple of posts with my own crockpot recipes you might like.

One is for flageolet bean stew:

http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/2005/04/20/bean-cuisine-i-country-french-flageolet-stew/

The other isn't a recipe per se, but a description of how I threw some beef, leeks and parsnips into the crockpot to make a nice braised beef dish. Again, I think you would like it and it is plenty easy.

http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/2005/03/24/what-a-crock/

You will get the hang of it, Meg, and once you do, you will enjoy it.

I thought all crockpots had to be that awful dark yellow color. Yours sounds moderately attractive.

When my mother passed, my dad made crockpot beef stew every week. I got sick of it eventually, but it was very very good.

We've got several. I haven't used it yet and haven't been impressed with what my wife has done with. I do however, use the smaller of the two for keeping gravy warm at the table during the holidays!

Biggles

Barbara, I'll definitely take a look at your recipes - thanks! Barrett, I'll try to take a photo of the whole thing later and link it in the post.
Dr. B - Ingenious idea (and my mouth is watering at the amount of gravy you must make to fill even a small crock-pot!!).

And Dr. B's idea leads me to another musing...fondue savoyarde?? On the low heat, it might just work. Too bad you can't put the stoneware insert on the stovetop, though - would need to melt the cheese in another receptacle I would guess.

Thanks for the recipe, I think I'll give this one a try. Overall, I've been disappointed with the crockpot -- I just haven't found many good recipe ideas.

It does work really well for hot drinks during the holidays though :)

There is a crock pot that has an insert that is stove top usable. It was shown on one of America's Test Kitchens show last year. Perhaps their website lists it in its equiptment testing area. I cannot remember who makes it, but it would eliminate dirtying a seperate pan for browning foods prior to placing in the crock-pot.

Meg, this Ask Metafilter thread of favorite slow cooker recipes could hardly be more timely.

Cyndy, sounds like a great improvement - not only fewer dishes to wash but also it would make it easier to include the browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan.

Elsa, thanks for the link! There were a lot of good ideas and I've bookmarked the site to consult later!

I have one like you bought and a Rival that can go on the stove top. I grew up in crock pot house and my Mom always doubled the spices (except salt) and halved the liquids. But she ws using a 70's crock pot cook book. Maybe the recipies are better now? After you use it 6 times or so you will get your own method down.

I have used crock pots for years and love the, you can find tons of good recipes on the internet if you look...I love using it to cook short ribs and roasts and all kinds of beans

.Don't give up on your crock pot..It is great feeling to come home to a house that smells good and a hot tasty homecooked meal that is ready to eat the minute you walk in the door.

Hi Meg, I have 2 crockpots/slow cookers and use them all the time. bolognaise sauce or chilli con carne are so no fuss just brown the mince and onion and garlic really quickly I also cook the tomato paste to take away the floury taste, then add the usual ingredients ( wine, stock, tomato sauce spices ) just watch the salt. cook on low 4-6 hours.
the internet provides masses of recipes and hints. I made stuffed baked apples from an internet recipe yesterday so easy, core approx 8green apples stuff with sultanas and sugar and cinnamon dot tops with butter and add 1cup water cook on low for 4 hours, very nice all the best with your crock pot endeavours

The lamb crock pot recipes sounds great, thanks for the recipe.
Regards-Steve

http://www.easy-crockpotrecipes.com

I just moved to Munich from the U.S. and would like to find where to buy a crockpot. Have had no luck in German stores. We are going to south eastern France in 2 weeks...where can I find one? Thanks!

Crock pots are great, but you have to know how to use them. It isn't the same as making a stew or braise in an oven, because:

- The liquid doesn't boil off, so you have to use a lot less. Just leaving the lid off at the end won't compensate, as it will take a very long time to boil down. Experiment with your own slow cooker, but you should probably half the amount of liquid if using a stove-top or oven recipe. It also helps to add thickeners (flour, cornflour or similar) to help the gravy along.

- Veg cooks slowly, so cut it small and it's best to saute onions first (though you don't have to)

- You don't have to brown the meat, although it can add flavour and improve looks.

- Definitely avoid citrus, the long cooking time makes it bitter If you want to use it, add it at the end.

- Downgrade the meat. Tough cuts are delicious in the slow cooker, but tender cuts will disintegrate. So whatever your stove-top recipe calls for, downgrade it. If it says leg of lamb, use shoulder. If it says shoulder, try neck. For rump, read brisket, but if it says brisket, try shin (or a mixture of shin and oxtail - you'll need to pull the bones out at the end, but it's gorgeous!).

The choice of meat is probably the most important bit. You're not looking for any old offcut - you want lean meat, as fat won't melt off, it will just go rubbery; but it should be a tough cut, ideally with plenty of sinew (the translucent stretchy stuff) as this breaks down during very slow cooking, and lubricates the meat. It almost acts like fat does in a roast. Bones are not a problem, just pick them out at the end. Once you get the hang, it'll save you money, and you'll be amazed how tasty some of the mega-cheap "soup cuts" are when slow-cooked.

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