There's a reason why slow cooker recipes are wildly popular. We want convenience, and we want—and need—it now. The slow cooker delivers just that, working hard for us while we're hard at work, welcoming us home to a fragrant dinner that's just waiting to be enjoyed. This simple appliance works miracles with tough, inexpensive cuts of meat, coaxing out incredible flavor and turning out meltingly tender results. Through its low, slow cooking, it melds and marries flavors; it brings ingredients together in delicious harmony. And it offers up a few surprises: appetizers, sides, and drinks that simmer to perfection—hands-free.
We left the skins on the McIntosh apples to provide texture and color to this favorite fruit dish. If you prefer, you can substitute a number of other sweet-tart apple varieties for McIntosh, such as Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Pink Lady, or Gala. Golden Delicious apples aren't the best to eat raw because they're not quite as crisp as other kinds, but they're commonly used for the base juice in ciders. The optional butter in this recipe provides richness and a silky mouthfeel to the sauce, but be aware that the fat also slightly mutes the sweet and acidic flavors. We love the little chunks of apple left in the mix to make the dish more toothsome.