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.
Smoky Slow Cooker Chili
This is one of our all-time favorite chili recipes, and for good reason. It's made with ground pork, cubed pork shoulder, and a smoked ham hock, giving it incredible richness. And the Mexican hot-style tomato sauce infuses the whole crock with an irresistible smoky-spicy flavor. Look for El Pato brand, in a yellow can with a painting of a duck on it, in the Latin foods area in your supermarket. If you can't find it, substitute an 8-ounce can of regular tomato sauce, plus 1 to 2 teaspoons Mexican hot sauce (such as Cholula). Don't have any beer to pour into the chili? That's OK—just use water, chicken stock, or beef stock.