What made slow cookers successful in the '70s holds true today: You can make family meals and company fare alike, while you save valuable time and energy. Whether you're a veteran slow cooker user or a first-timer, we hope this collection of recipes will inspire you. All the recipes deliver on both convenience and taste. There are even a few surprises that showcase the slow cooker's versatility.
Here are a few tips to remember when using your cooker:
- If your slow cooker has a removable insert, you're doubly blessed. For some recipes, you can assemble the ingredients in the insert the night before, refrigerate the whole thing, and go to bed. Next morning, set the insert in the slow cooker, turn on the heat, and head to work knowing that a delicious meal will greet you at day's end.
- The slow cooker is one of the most forgiving of cooking options. No basting, eye-balling, or baby-sitting. Although cooking time is more flexible than with traditional methods, overcooking and even burning are possible in a slow cooker, so test for doneness close to the time given in the recipe.
- To ensure that our recipes provide the most accurate cook times, we tested with old and new models and different sizes of cookers. We discovered that newer models cook hotter; so double-check the cook times depending on the age of your cooker.
- Size also matters. If the recipe calls for a 3-quart cooker and you own a 6-quart, reduce the cook time by a third and check for doneness as specified in the recipe. (Otherwise, the dish may burn).
- Some meat recipes call for the dish to be cooked on high heat for one hour and then reduced to low heat. This allows the slow cooker to heat up faster and the heat to penetrate the cut of meat and eradicate any bacteria.
- For the same reason, cut any piece of meat larger than a couple of pounds in half so the center will reach recommended temperatures in less time. Once you sample these recipes, we're sure you'll give your slow cooker a permanent spot on your countertop.