As fall nears and the weather cools, I start looking forward to a good bowl of chili while watching my favorite football team play on a Sunday afternoon. My thoughts of chili then progress into musings of stews and soups and all the wonderful things that can be made in my slow cooker.
I like using a slow cooker because it means that I dirty it and no other pots or pans during meal preparation. There are a few exceptions when an additional pan is needed to brown or sear meat, but these instances are rare. After the meal has been served, cleanup is as simple as moving the empty crock from the slow cooker to the dishwasher. The slow cooker is definitely an uncluttered kitchen solution.
If you don’t currently own a slow cooker, there are really only two features that I see as essential components. The first necessary feature is a separate, removable inner crock. The second feature is a temperature indicator that has at least three settings: Off, Low, and High. I have never found use for any of the other slow cooker features currently on the market. A crock pot with these two features also has the benefit of usually costing less than $30 and will last you many years.
The majority of the recipes I make in my slow cooker are in my head. However, I took a trip recently to my local bookstore and saw that there are now dozens of slow cooker recipe books in publication for people seeking printed recipes. Also, an internet search for “slow cooker recipe” yielded thousands of recipes from online sources. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some of the slow cooker cookbooks on the market:
- Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes
- The Healthy Slow Cooker: More than 100 Dishes for Health and Wellness
- Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook
- Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes for Two: For the Small Slow Cooker
- The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World
- 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes
- Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker
Enjoy your uncluttered cooking experience!
This post has been updated since it was originally published in September 2007.