With January dubbed as “One Pot Meals Month”, it’s only natural that this week’s must-have be none other than a crock pot, or slow cooker as it’s otherwise known.
Slow cookers are a staple for any household, especially a busy one. A lot of us don’t have time to sit around to cook a meal, so a slow cooker comes in handy when you can throw your ingredients in and go. You have the ability to make a variety of items like black-eyed peas, french-inspired cassoulet, or try a delicious tequila-infused chili! All of these recipes and more are possible with a slow cooker!
Here, I’ve dissected three of my favorites that fall into a variety of budgets:
1. High Range – All-Clad 6.5 Quart Electric Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert 99093 – $139
All-Clad is a brand to be reckoned with in the kitchen appliance industry. The All-Clad Slow Cooker is no exception to this rule. This behemoth slow cooker does everything you need and more. Some of the great features that the 99093 brings to your table are:
• Programmable electronic timer with 4 cooking settings provide users with the flexibility to cook with adjustable times on either Low or High settings.
• Cooker switch automatically to Keep Warm mode after program timer expires.
• 400 Watts of power and electronic temperature sensor deliver accurate temperature setting and a rapid warm up of food for safety.
This All-Clad slow cooker was recently reviewed by Good Housekeeping…
“Our top pick, this stainless steel unit has electronic controls that can be programmed to cook on either high for two to eight hours or low for four to 20 hours. In our tests, it delivered a delicious fork-tender beef stew, with none of the dryness or stringiness that are the signs of overcooking. After the program is completed, the All-Clad automatically switches to “keep warm” for up to six hours or until you turn it off. While the manual offers basic instructions, we would have liked more suggestions for cooking specific foods; a small five-recipe booklet is included. The dishwasher-safe black ceramic insert can only be used for slow cooking, not in the oven or microwave like some others. At over 17 pounds, this unit is heavy; you’ll want to move the bowl and base separately. When we contacted All-Clad’s customer service department, it took just over a minute to speak to a live person who offered to repair the unit if we sent it at our own expense; if the factory found the product defective, they’d refund the shipping cost.”
2. Mid-Range – Crockpot SCVP600-SS 6-Quart SmartPot Programmable Slow Cooker – $80
Crockpot has made a name for itself in the land of slow cookers, so much so that it’s brand name has almost become synonymous with slow cookers. Good Housekeeping recently listed this cooker among it’s top rated slow cookers saying,
“This six-quart model tied the All-Clad for supreme slow cooker, and is the only one with a temperature probe to automatically cooks meat at either high or low (you select the heat level) until it reaches the right internal temperature before switching to a simmer setting. This makes using this cooker practically foolproof, especially if you don’t have a recipe—tell it what type of meat you are cooking and it does the rest. We used this feature to prepare excellent braised pork tenderloin. The Smart-Set can be programmed not only to cook for specific time periods on either high or low for up to 20 hours but also to switch from one setting to another, so that you might choose, for example, to start a pot roast on high for two hours and then switch to low for an additional 8. The panel displays the cooking time as the unit operates, and a hinged lid means less mess. You can safely place the crock in the oven, microwave, and dishwasher.”
3. Low Range – Hamilton Beach 33956 Stay-or-Go 5-Quart Slow Cooker – $40
For the budget-conscious slow cooker, this Hamilton Beach version is a steal at only $40! Not only is the price enticing, the white-casted frame shows off the sleek design of the product.
What’s really great about this product is in its ease. You can easily prepare soups, casseroles, pot roasts, curries, and more with this 5-quart oval-shaped slow cooker. The appliance comes equipped with flat-panel digital controls and a precise temperature probe for large cuts of meat–no more over cooking or under cooking food.
Also, you can choose to slow cook in one of three ways–manually, pre-programmed by time, or pre-programmed by temperature with – get this! – the included meat probe.
If any of my slow cooker picks interest you, check out my Amazon.com store below for more information…