Slow cooker, pressure cooker, other cookers…?

Kitchenware Direct is trying to make me buy kitchen gadgets. It’s being quite blatant about it, actually.

I’m immune to the allure of roasting tins – I have quite a nice one, thank you – and while I adore Le Creuset it’s so far out of my budget that I am fairly safe.  Also, I do have reasonably good fake Le Creuset for my general cast-iron pot needs.

I’ve been flirting with the idea of a food processor for a while – the one I have is not really heavy-duty enough for the sort of things I inflict on it – but the really good ones are so expensive that I remain un-tempted.

My current problem is with slow cookers.  And possibly pressure cookers, since some of the slow cookers come with a nifty little pressure cooker option.

Let’s face it, the concept of the slow cooker is pretty appealing – you put things in the cooker in the morning, leave it happily stewing away on the benchtop during the day, and when you come home, dinner is ready.  Fabulous!  And just the thing for using all those interesting cuts of meat that need long cooking.  Then, if you have a pressure cooker too, you have the option of instant meals!  Instant meals with *legumes* even!  This does have a certain appeal.

On the other hand, I’m not actually a morning person.  Would I seriously be getting up early enough to set my slow cooker going on a regular basis?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I suspect this would depend on just how good my first few slow-cooked meals turned out to be.

Also, while the idea of using a pressure cooker for legumes is possibly the most appealing thing ever (I’m not actually a snob about legumes from tins, but for one thing, not all legumes are readily available in tins, for another, it’s fun sometimes to infuse my own choice of flavours into things, and for a third, dried legumes are *really* cheap), I can’t help wondering if the pressure cooker might, in fact explode.

I mean, all that pressure has to go somewhere.  Theoretically, I imagine that they are not designed to explode, but I am not wholly convinced that explosions would not be a likely occurrance.

And if I want to be really paranoid, will my slow cooker set the house on fire while I’m at work?

(on the other hand… imagine slow cooking quinces overnight for a lovely stewed fruit breakfast.  Or rice pudding cooked overnight – I’ve heard you can do this.  Or… oh, believe me, I’m very tempted)

So, O my readers, do any of you meddle with slow cookers or pressure cookers or machines which are a combination of the two?  Do they work well?  Do they produce good meals, or does everything start to taste the same after a while?  Do the pressure cookers explode every day, often, sometimes or never?  How do you clean legumes off the ceiling when they do?  Is there a brand you recommend, or one you hate?  Do you have any truly spectacular things you use them for that I haven’t thought of?

Talk to me!


This time last year…
Recipe: Lemon coconut buttercream
Review: Serving Up The Harvest, by Andrea  Chesman
Recipe: Arroz Con Pollo with Peas


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20 comments for “Slow cooker, pressure cooker, other cookers…?

  1. May 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I just bought a 5-in-1 multicooker (slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice etc) from Kitchenware direct and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival! I am not a morning person either, which put me off getting a slow cooker for a while. Recently I’ve had some great slow cooked dishes at restaurants though, which I really want to try to recreate, so I gave in. Slow cookers sure do some amazing things to meat. Vietnamese sticky caramel pork is pretty high on my priority list…

    • May 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Ha, it sounds like we both got the same email yesterday and then followed the same links! We don’t eat out much, which means I don’t get many chances to try food which wasn’t cooked by me – if a method isn’t practical at home, I rarely taste the results. But sticky caramel pork sounds rather gorgeous (I don’t eat pork, but I’m sure other meats would work).

    • May 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Sticky caramel pork? OMG. I cannot begin to say how intriguing that sounds. Care to share the recipe?

  2. May 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I currently have a two-pan pressure cooker set (a deep pot and a shallower pot, both of which use the same pressure cooker or normal pot lid). It’s GRAND for beans. I also use the deep one for steaming the Christmas puddings, since it means that I can do a big one in an hour or so instead of four hours. Pressure cookers really don’t explode anymore, not the way they occasionally did in the 50s and 60s. Mine has something ludicrous like four different safety features to prevent that. And there are generally (often multiple) valves to release steam/pressure if the buildup is too great.

    I have a second-hand slow cooker that I haven’t used yet, mostly because I am not a morning person either. The idea of having one pot to do both things is very tempting …

    • May 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      Excellent! I think I may be unable to resist, to be honest…

  3. foudebassan
    May 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve an old SEB pressure cooker, it’s a life-saver – I cook nearly all vegetables there (it’s like 2 mins for green beans, 3 minutes for carrots…)

    • May 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      This is sounding increasingly irresistible…

  4. reynardo
    May 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Did I mention that my beautiful son bought me a pressure cooker/rice cooker/slow cooker/etc for Mother’s Day last year? And I hear you about doing the prep in the morning, but there’s nothing wrong with doing the prep the night before, and just remembering to throw the pot (which comes out of the base very nicely) out of the fridge into the cooker and hitting “start” in the morning.

    Coming home to a hot meal that’s scented up the whole house is divine…

    • May 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Yeah, I was looking at slow-cooker cookbooks (of course), and a lot of them suggested doing the prep the night before…

  5. splodge
    May 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    You have to, so I know whether to get one! (Although I’m very nearly sold anyway.) 🙂
    Aren’t slow cookers specially designed to be safe when they are home alone?

    When I was a kid, the pressure cooker did explode. Chicken legs on the ceiling, I swear.

    • May 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Heh. So I am to be your guinea pig, flying chicken legs and all? I’ll bear that in mind.

      (actually, I have now ordered the cooker in question. Far too fascinating to resist. And now, of course, I’m eyeing off all these slow-cooker and pressure-cooker cookbooks…)

  6. May 19, 2012 at 3:31 am

    I’ve been a slow-cooker user for years. I’ll be making Vegan Barbecued Beans in mine tomorrow – it always goes over well.

    The big problem for us with slow cookers is how much food they make – way too much for two people, and for some reason we never seem to freeze any of the left-overs – they just go into the refrigerator, and then get either eaten WAY too quickly, or they sit in there and die. From what you have written in the past, I suspect this will not be an issue for you.

    We did get a one-quart slow-cooker – it’s better for just the two of us.

    • May 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      I can see that. However, I am a big fan of making big stews which can be stored in the freezer for weeks like the one I just had, where coming home and producing a healthy dinner is just one thing too many. I decided on a 6 litre one, because I would rather have leftovers than not enough space to cook for friends…

    • May 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Recipe for your beans? Please?

      • May 21, 2012 at 8:53 am

        The original recipe:

        1 lb Hamburger, browned
        1/2 lb Bacon, chopped & browned
        1 onion, chopped & browned

        3/4 c. brown sugar
        1/2 c. ketchup
        1 T. vinegar
        1 T. mustard
        1/2 t salt
        4 cans pork & beans
        2 cans kidney beans, drained & rinsed
        2 cans lima beans, drained
        (can substitute other beans – I usually use 1 can garbanzos, and 1 can of whatever strikes our fancy – butter beans and black-eyed peas have been the most recent substitutions)

        Combine all in the crockpot, cook on low for 10+ hours.

        To make it Vegan, as I made it yesterday:

        (Side note: The crockpot I use will actually make a batch & a half – increase all items after the first three by 50%.)

        for the hamburger, substitute 24 oz. Morningstar Farms crumbles (a TVP that looks like browned hamburger
        for the bacon, substitute 3 T. Red Miso
        for the onion, I used about 1/2 cup of caramelized onions (made with oil in the crockpot some time ago) from the freezer
        for the pork & beans, I used Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans
        No lima beans this week – I used garbanzos, black beans and pinto beans

        I specified brand-names available in the US – if you need any help identifying equivalents, ask, and I can at least give you more info on what the packaging says.

        • May 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

          Thanks. I think I can substitute fairly well (expertise due to long experience!)

  7. May 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    We actually have four – a six quart, a five quart, a one quart, and a one pint. The one pint only has two settings – off and on – but it’s useful for things like a hot spinach-artichoke dip. The other three all have at least off/ low/ high, the six quart has off/ warm/ low/ high.

    I’ll be using both of the big ones tomorrow – vegan barbecued beans and sweet & sour meatballs. We’re hosting a science-fiction club meeting, there’ll be somewhere between 20 and 50 people showing up.

    • May 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Wow, that’s a lot of slow cookers.

      • May 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

        I think the most I ever used at once was three – the two big ones, and one of the smaller ones for chocolate fondue.

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