Once upon a time, we owned a lovely Russell Hobbs slow cooker. It was given to us by a family member who no longer needed it (how can you not need a slow cooker?!).
Unfortunately, this crockpot died on us after about two years of heavy use (plus the six to twelve months it had been sporadically used before). It no longer heated, which kinda defeats the purpose of a slow cooker.
We went for almost 12 months without a slow cooker, which is, like, an <em>eternity</em>.
So when we had the spare cash, we bought a slow cooker from Harvey Norman (when we got our clothes dryer).
We were quite limited in choice. Big ones seem hard to come by, and we need a big one! The Oldest Hammerling eats like a horse, and is always looking for more. He’s a big boy, at a few days shy of 14, standing just over 6′, and full of muscle. So he needs a good serving at meal times to keep his belly from grumbling (and he’s still growing . . .).
Anyway, so, limited in choice. Harvey Norman had a large array of slow cookers at the 3L mark. They had two larger ones, the one we bought, which was tagged $68 at 5.5L, and a 5.7L for about $230.
It wasn’t a hard choice.
It was the last one they had, so we got the display model for $60 instead of $68.
It has more doobie-whatzits than the old one did. We can set it to High or Low, with a timer. It can be set to ‘Keep Warm’ for up to 12 hours.
The first time I used it, I chucked a half-frozen chicken in it, elevating it with balls of alfoil. The Oldest Hammerling put it Low on at 10am (during school holidays) in anticipation of my and Mr Hammer’s return home at 6pm.
Probably because it was frozen, by the time I got home after work, the flesh was still a little bit pink.
To avoid the probability of salmonella, I popped it on High for an hour, while the potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrot, corn and beans were cooking.
As we ate, I quickly noticed the breast meat I had on my plate was very dry.
The Oldest Hammerling and Mr Hammer had drumsticks. The Oldest Hammerling mentioned that his drumstick smelled like dog. I sniffed it.
Yes, it smelled like dog. Literally.
Mr Hammer couldn’t smell it. He continued eating to the sounds of my gagging.
The babies had wings and breast. They ate it all. Master Hammer even snatched the Oldest Hammerling’s drumstick and gobbled that down, too.
I, an infintely concerned parent, thought, ‘well, if they’re sick tomorrow, at least we’ll know why’.
Yep. I win the Trophy for Best Parenting 2016.
They weren’t sick. I’d presume it was the meat, not the slow cooker that offered the gag-worthy smell of dog.
The next morning, I put on all the ingredients for taco soup.
When Mr Hammer and myself got home from work, the house smelled divine. Not even a skerrick of dog.
Everything was cooked perfectly. It didn’t stick, bubble over, or burn.
Since then, I have also made a delicious, perfectly cooked beef stew.
The instruction manual is very basic (after all, it’s not hard to figure out – there are only a few buttons), and has a few pages at the back with recipes.
Most of these recipes require some kind of pre-cooking (like, cook the meat and onions before you put it in the cooker). This, to me, takes away from the ease-of-use. Personally, I like to make one-pot meals with the slow cooker. Just chuck everything in, turn it on and walk away. So I always add meat raw, onions uncooked, add spices, pastes and flavourings straight to the crock. Aside from the unfortunate dog-chicken, we have never had any issue with doing this.
The cooker outer lining (the silver bit) has handles, as well as the crock itself. This makes it really easy to pick up one or the other, and means we could take the crock out of the outer lining and place it on the dining table to serve, if required.
The power cord is also removable, which is both good and bad. It means the whole slow cooker could be moved to the table for serving, but also means the cord could be misplaced. I’m not sure why you would want to move the entire thing to the dining table to serve, if you could just take the crock insert.
The crock is dishwasher safe.
The heating element wraps around the crock insert, which means you don’t need to stir it, and it heats evenly (no burning to the bottom).
The control panel shows how much time is left to cook, if you selected a cooking time. Handy.
And, as with most slow cookers, once the timer is finished, it will automatically switch to ‘keep warm’.
We’re pretty happy with this purchase, and it makes having dinner ready to go when we get home from work so much easier.
And our delicious taco soup recipe for a large slow cooker:
- 1kg mince of your choice
- 1 jar passata
- 3 tins diced tomato
- 2 onions, diced
- 3 packets taco seasoning
- Dash cumin
- 3 cups water
- 1 green capsicum, diced
- 1 large tbsp tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, or 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tins red kidney beans (to be added at the end of cooking time for about half hour, or use dried beans and add with the rest of the ingredients)
- Sour cream, to serve
That’s it. Very easy, and very yummy. Just make sure you give the mince a good squishing before you start cooking, or you’ll end up with a solid slab of mince floating in your soup.
Yay or Nay?
Yay. If you’re looking a family-size pot, For the price, you can’t really go wrong. It does the job just fine.
What are your favourite slow cooker recipes? Are you an avid user, or just an every-now-and-then slow cooker-er?