Slow, as it goes…

I wanted to end the year on a high note, namely, that I conquered the world of slow-cooking. But things didn’t quite go as planned. I tried to make the best with it, sharing some of the fun on my Instagram Stories. People were kind enough to offer some helpful comments along the way. Which I guess is the benefit of something taking 9, to 21 hours, to cook; you’ve got plenty of time to get advice.

“Don’t open the lid!”

“Don’t look inside!”

“Get another brand of slow-cooker!”

“Get an Instant Pot!”

“Go back to your Dutch oven!”

“Add more liquid”

“Don’t add more liquid!”

While it was nice of people to offer tips and advice, the idea of cooking something for nine hours and not once looking into it, or touching it, seemed a little too far-fetched for someone who is a cook, who has been looking, touching, and tasting, along with the way, for too many decades to recount here. I like to check seasonings, feel the textures, and prod for doneness. But I was told every time I lifted the lid I was adding 30 to 60 minutes to the cooking time. So I resisted as much as I could, until I couldn’t resist, and checked on the progress. Which wasn’t quite happening as planned.

After two cooking failures with the slow-cooker, I decided to end the year with success. I decided to adapt a recipe from Dining In by Alison Roman. Her book got a lot of accolades, and I didn’t get to see it until I was in the States, and – wow – it’s pretty great. I loved her ideas for savory dishes, like this one for slow-cooked pork, embedded with the bold flavors of cilantro, garlic, coriander seeds, and citrus. All those in one dish? Count me in. However she cooks hers in a regular Dutch oven, and I thought, “This is the perfect recipe to adapt to a slow-cooker. Let me at it…”

I may be another year older, but my memory still serves me right and I remember in the ’70s when everyone said I had to get a yogurt maker, which I did. Then people told me I had to get a bread machine. After all, 25,000,000 people sprung for one. Why shouldn’t I? (I didn’t.) Europeans implored me to get a life-changing Thermomix, and every time I mentioned one, a message would come from a Thermomix “consultant“, enthusiastically letting me know what a good idea the €1500 machine was, which you could only buy from a consultant.

Then it was a slow cooker. Then everyone said I had to get a sous-vide machine. (That one is still in the box here – gulp…) Then the word was that I definitely had to get an Instant Pot. So what’s next? And if I had bought all of those devices, I wouldn’t have room in my kitchen for my stand mixer (actually, two), a food processor, espresso machine, electric hot water kettle, hot air fryer, ice cream machinejuicer, two rice cookers (hey, I’m from San Francisco), a sparkling water machine, an immersion blender, a regular blender, a spice grinder, and a waffle iron (just kidding on that last one, although I’ve been told I need one of those, too). But where would I put that?

Lest you think I’m grumpy and old-fashioned, I’m very curious about those weighted blankets. And when I found out you could make wine in an Instant Pot, I began to look at it in a new light. If only it made rye whiskey, I’d be in business.

My slow cooker came to me because the company that I got my appliances from, owed me some money for repairs I had to have done on my dishwasher. (Which still doesn’t clean very well. But at least it works.) After several years of trying to get reimbursed (I learned the term faire le mort, from Romain, or “play dead,” as in “Don’t respond to emails, texts, or telephone calls”), they finally replied, offering me a choice of something from their small-appliance collection instead.

Unfortunately, weighted blankets weren’t on their list. If so, I’d probably be sleeping better right now rather than spending worrying about how you cook meat for nine hours without looking at it. So I went with the only machine I didn’t have: le multicuisier (slow cooker).

Nowadays, I only want something that lessens the amount of dishes you have to wash after using it. I made breadcrumbs with some leftover baguettes after a holiday fête last month, and by the time I cleaned everything up – cutting board, bread knife, two baking sheets, and the food processor, I had an hour-and-a-half’s worth of breadcrumbs, and was a half-day behind on a book deadline. My editor is going to kill me, but at least I didn’t waste 3 bucks worth of bread. Is someone invented a self-cleaning food processor, I’d be in, for sure. Although maybe if the waffle iron was self-cleaning, I’d have one of those crammed in one of my cabinets, too.

Since meat should always be browned before braising, I cut the pork shoulder in cubes to brown them for this dish. In addition to going completely rogue on Alison’s dish, I cut the meat into pieces; she has you brown the pork shoulder whole, which is a lot easier, but impossible to do in a slow-cooker that has a 6-inch (15cml) bottom. I ended up browning the meat in two old-fashioned skillets on the stovetop, which added two pans to my sink (not my dishwasher), to clean.

To make a long story short, I put everything in the machine, including the lovely charred tangerine and plenty of garlic, added the fresh herbs and orange juice, closed the lid, and pressed the “Slow” button, and waited. And waited, and waited. And waited. As a recipe tester, it’s excruciating not checking the doneness of something. People kindly offered, “Trust the recipe – just don’t check it!” But since I was cooking something in a substantially different way from the recipe, there was no template. In fact, I was making the template right then and there, and was going to give it to you. Or those of you that have slow-cookers.

To make a long story short, after 9 hours, it was time to go to bed. So I chilled the pork down, and started it up in the machine the next day. Another several hours in la machine, and it still wasn’t tender. (Spoiler: I just had to check it while it was cooking. What else was I supposed to do?) So on the third day, dinner must be served. I dumped everything into a pot, set it on the stovetop, and simmered it for an hour, to perfection.

So my New Year’s resolution, which I never remember after January 7th, is to move on from the machines – except my stand mixer, and my dishwasher, although another one of my resolutions this year is to replace it with one that actually cleans the dishes. I did use my slow cooker for keeping a holiday meal warm, and it makes great rice, which is nice.

 


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193 comments

  • Rob
    January 6, 2019 2:27pm

    I’m with you. I find that people who really understand and enjoy cooking tend to have less “stuff” in the kitchen, realizing how much you can get done with less equipment.

    • Sharon
      January 6, 2019 6:11pm

      True!

    • Kathi
      January 6, 2019 11:23pm

      I agree!! Simple ingredients, simple tools and a lot of love!

  • January 6, 2019 2:39pm

    I don’t have a slow cooker. I do that sort of thing (in half the time) on my slow combustion wood stove while it is heating the house at the same time. Utterly reliable.

    • Sharon
      January 6, 2019 6:10pm

      YES!

      I used to let sourdough bread rise on the ledge of our fireplace insert overnight, as the hot air rose from the insert vents.

      The bread was always twice as tall as when it rose on a counter. Light and scrumptious! Would love to cook on a wood stove as you do. : )

      • January 7, 2019 8:11pm

        I don’t always cook on the wood stove. I’ve got gas as well, but the wood stove is perfect for slow cooking. I love it (even if it is a lot of work manhandling logs).

    • Shez Fordham
      January 7, 2019 8:41am

      Perfection and my dream appliance. Still saving for mine!

  • Eleanor Kohler
    January 6, 2019 2:46pm

    I second your opinion of the slow cooker. I like to smell, stir and taste what I cook.
    What bothers me is that the several other food blogs which I read besides yours seem to more and more feature recipes for slow cookers and electric pressure cookers. It would be nice if they could include instructions for adapting these recipes for my good old Dutch oven.

    • January 6, 2019 2:49pm
      David Lebovitz

      A number of food blogs, especially some of the newer ones, are focused squarely on searched engines and people are searching for recipes for these new appliances. (I don’t know the stats, because I don’t know how to find that information out – but it is out there – but it’d be interesting to see.) It’d be nice if people presented both, or for all three methods of cooking, but that’d mean testing and writing up a second recipe and that’s a lot more to do.

      • Kelly
        January 6, 2019 6:55pm

        Don’t give up on your slow cooker yet!I have 4 slow cookers and used 3 at one time multiple times when our girls were young and we were super busy. ONE RECIPE you should try is the Cooking Light “Slow Cooker Beef Daube”. I’ve made it several times (for company too) and it turns out perfect each time. Cooking Light magazine is no longer, but the recipes are still online for awhile. I promise you will love this recipe. Use a good dry red wine.

        https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/slow-cooker-beef-daube

        • Janet
          January 6, 2019 9:09pm

          https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/provencal-beef-daube

          Your link didn’t work for me. I found this recipe on CookingLight, though. Maybe it is the same?

        • Barbara
          January 12, 2019 2:50pm

          I made this last night for visiting family. It was absolutely delicious as promised.Will definitely make it again.

      • Karen
        January 7, 2019 12:16am

        “This Old Gal” on facebook frequently gives instructions for stove top along with ‘instant pots’. She’s quite thorough.

  • Cat
    January 6, 2019 2:51pm

    I only use my slow cooker to simmer soups and allow them time to come together. That being said, I still mostly use a pot on my stove because the slow cooker is also a bear to clean!

    • Nicole
      January 7, 2019 5:53am

      Mine cleans up easier than anything except my cocotte!

    • stephanie
      January 9, 2019 10:35pm

      i use the disposable slow cooker liners when i use my slow cooker. it’s basically a big plastic bag you put inside. then you can just lift out and toss when the food’s done. all i have to do is wipe the condensation from the insert and wash the lid.

      • Sydney Ohagan
        January 10, 2019 12:27pm

        I don’t know about cooking my food in plastic and it’s defintely not eco-friendly.

  • Hilary Shearman
    January 6, 2019 2:59pm

    Didn’t you already say you have two rice cookers?! Time to get rid of the slow cooker I’d say, a nice experiment but as a chef the complete antithesis to your passion to taste and look and smell, as it cooks.
    Thanks for all your wonderful recipes and Happy New Year!

  • September
    January 6, 2019 3:08pm

    I have to say I love my “slow cooker”, but here in the South (U.S.) we refer to the machine as a crockpot. My favorite dish I’ve made with my crockpot is lasagna. Of course our crockpots have been a go to since the 70’s with our moms. Perhaps learning from our mom is the reason for success.

  • Meg
    January 6, 2019 3:12pm

    David, it’s also useful for keeping mulled wine at the right temperature – and has the added benefit of being able to be moved out of the kitchen into a living space. Best if you heat the wine before putting it in the slow cooker, but it’s great for keeping it warm. :)

    • Char
      January 6, 2019 11:51pm

      Same for hot apple cider! And my sister-in-law does her turkey dressing in the slow-cooker to free up space in her oven on Christmas Day – it sounded weird to me, but I have had the dressing & it’s delicious!

  • Ben Morgenstein
    January 6, 2019 3:23pm

    I am not a fan of slow cookers either, for all of the reasons you mention–not being able to check on the food, meat somehow not being tender enough after many hours, etc. An Instant Pot is actually a good appliance for a small kitchen, though, since it can do the job of many separate appliances: pressure cooker, rice maker, etc. (At the rate they’re going, a rye whiskey function will be added soon). The one option we never use, unsurprisingly, is slow cooking.

    • Rita Margolies
      January 7, 2019 3:06am

      I wholeheartedly agree. The Instant Pot has revolutionized my cooking. I immediately got rid of my slow cooker. I cook way more now. Highly recommend it. You can brown your pork roast, and then cook it in 90 minutes for a perfect dish.

  • Cindy Williamson
    January 6, 2019 3:28pm

    David you must start using your immersion cooker (SV)!! My son bought me one for Christmas 2017 and it’s been wonderful – once you start you’ll be amazed!

  • Margaret
    January 6, 2019 3:43pm

    I sometimes used my slow cooker (crockpot) to cook chicken breasts and potatoes when I worked and commuted two hours a day, twenty years ago, but now it’s gathering dust in the back of my pantry. Since then I discovered Le Creuset cast iron and Emile Henry ceramic Dutch ovens and never looked back :) I see Instant Pots everywhere but have no interest in them. Maybe I would if I were young, worked, and had a huge family to feed.

  • Jana
    January 6, 2019 4:02pm

    I’m going to second the sous vide. Making duck confit without additional fat now. Cooking ahi tuna to 115 degrees for a salad is a revelation. Pork chops cooked in maple syrup and sage, so moist. Bone-on chicken breast with orange and thyme are divine. And the juices left in the bag make great pan sauces. Check the Serious Eats site for fantastic tips.

    • Taipan Lalo
      January 7, 2019 11:00am

      Where do you find the sous vide recipes you mentioned?

    • Helen Russo
      January 7, 2019 5:08pm

      Thanks for the tips Jana, I’m going to try those!

  • Cat S.
    January 6, 2019 4:10pm

    I too enjoy cooking things the “real” way, but many who want home cooked meals on the table do not have the luxury of time we may take for granted. Slow cookers are great for busy working families that spend most of their time at work or commuting. You’re not really the target market. :-)

    If there’s only 6 inches of space at the bottom I’m guessing the one you got is tiny and maybe low powered. The larger ones get the job done on low in 8-9 hours without fail for me, so I’m guessing this little machine is not one that can succeed.

  • Julia
    January 6, 2019 4:20pm

    I understand the slow cooker reluctance. I have one and a great thing about mine is that the pan is removable so that I can use it on the stove. I brown meat in the slow cooker pan on the stove, then I can put it back in slow cooker and add liquid and lid and leave. This makes me more likely to use it, as I don’t have to clean a “browning” pan.

    I find the slow cooker works very well for me for things like beef ragout (I keep the pieces quite large, maybe 5 cm and then flake when it’s cooked), osso bucco and even bolognese.

    One of my fave recipes for the slow cooker is this though: https://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/slow-cooker-red-roast-pulled-pork/

    I’ve made it both with homemade brioche burger buns and rice. I use Poh Ling Yeow’s recipe for the buns: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/brioche-buns Although the buns are brioche style, they have structural integrity) and a lightly dressed coleslaw (thinly sliced cabbage, julienned carrot, coriander with a tiny bit of lemon juice and olive oil).

    The pork is also delicious with rice, pickles and herbs. Again I use Poh’s pickle recipe from here: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/vietnamese-pork-balls-rice-vermicelli-and-pickles. (The pork balls are amazing FYI).

    • Sharon
      January 6, 2019 6:16pm

      Thanks for the recipes!

    • Carol Abnett
      January 6, 2019 10:49pm

      Just pinned all three recipes, all sound great. Thanks.

    • Helen
      January 7, 2019 1:35am

      Thank you. These recipes look great. How do you convert to American standard measurements?

  • Margaret
    January 6, 2019 5:11pm

    I loved seeing the terrine périgourdine that you posted on Instagram recently. Is it similar to your duck terrine with figs in My Paris Kitchen? I’m dying to make.

    • January 6, 2019 5:58pm
      David Lebovitz

      It’s not really similar. I don’t know what’s in the one I bought, or how it was made, but I do know it had black truffles in it (which were likely tinned) and chunks of foie gras. You can perhaps find a recipe online by typing in the name. Tip: I often look at images on the “image search” page, to see what looks similar. Unfortunately many results are “aggregator” sites, that post anything, so sometimes you have to dig. Pinterest can be good for searching as well. Good luck!

      • Margaret
        January 6, 2019 7:37pm

        Thanks!

  • Bette
    January 6, 2019 5:14pm

    I use my slow cooker (crockpot!) to make Indian dal. It slowly simmers for 8-10 hours on low, and is perfect by evening. Other than using the crockpot about once/month for this one purpose, it primarily just sits and gathers dust on top of my fridge.

  • Sarahb1313
    January 6, 2019 5:16pm

    Uh, yeah.
    But where I find it does shine and makes it worthwhile is making broth/stock. I can cook my chicken, bone, etc, for 8 hours and it turns a beautiful caramel from the Maillard reaction. And I am not babysitting my stovetop.
    Also makes dulce de leche for the same reasons.

    Aside from that? No thank you. It never really made anything worth eating. I think I tried 3-4 times. Meh.

  • Karen S
    January 6, 2019 5:17pm

    So your slow cooker is from the same company who made the dishwasher? That doesn’t work well? And the slow cooker doesn’t work well either? Uh huh….

    Seriously, though, I always thought slow cookers seemed like a good idea, but I was never very satisfied with most recipes, except for making spiced cider for parties.

    Now my Instant Pot — I’ve just gone through a kitchen remodel, and the Instant Pot was a savior! Delicious braises, broths, soups, and even quick sautés, all without a kitchen. I found a fast and easy, hands off lemon curd recipe that turned out magnificently.

    I honestly don’t know how much I will use it once I have my kitchen back (almost there), but it’s been a much more successful tool than a slow cooker ever was for me.

    • Sharon
      January 6, 2019 6:24pm

      Please share the lemon curd recipe.
      A deep South friend made the most delicious coconut cake with lemon curd between the layers. I need to find a tender white cake recipe and the white icing and see if I can come close to her perfection. Lemon curd is da bomb!

  • VA
    January 6, 2019 5:19pm

    When I first bought a slow cooker, 30 years ago, I followed the recipes in the tiny booklet included.

    Now that I have the basic method I adapt recipes all the time. I frequently check, no adverse consequences.
    Many times my top-of-the-stove lentil soup leave the lentils a bit underdone. Overnight in the crock pot makes for perfection.

    I do find I need a bit more seasoning and I never add salt. Seems to slow the cooking time and toughen the food.

    Also my crock has 3 settings, high, low, and warm. I start on high and turn to low after it bubbles. Then just let it cook.

    It is a great time saver. When I have an abundance of veggies, I will brown them in a skillet (or if I am lazy throw them in the oven until browned), then freeze in portions to be later thrown in the crock pot.

    Same with stock, prepared in portions for crock pot. I find a flavorful stock gives best results when liquid is needed, esp when beans are part of the recipe.

    Don’t give up just yet.

    • January 6, 2019 5:56pm
      David Lebovitz

      People were very (very) adamant, as I learned that people are about their machines (as in, all of them), that I did not open the lid. Like, at all. People said it would increase the cooking time 30-60 minutes every time I did that. I didn’t quite understand the theory of that, but since several different people said that, I figured there was something to it. Good to hear the opposite!

    • Doris Ruth Oppenheimer
      January 7, 2019 9:56pm

      I want to echo what VA stated about “Not Giving up” .

      I use the set it , forget it and leave the apartment school of crockpot cookery. Go out see a movie, do some shopping or go run some errands. Be out of your abode for at least six hours.

      When you come home it will be as if you had a person chef who prepared a meal for you. What a relief it is to find a hot meal waiting for us. Especially a legume based dish.

      Visit Simply Recipes for some reliable recipes.

      Or google “eating well” and “Ethiopian chicken” for one of our family favorites.

  • tim
    January 6, 2019 5:22pm

    I just got a sous vide, I do alot of ribs and this will just make it easier.
    You will encounter the idea to get a vacume sealer bag… or adapt the other stuff.

    What i usually look for is when it is in more professional kitchens thats when i might use it.

    On the other hand… you need a waffle iron. But maybe you didn’t grow up with bisquick and waffles.

    Also you can put cinnamon buns in a waffle iron and old stuffing to make “bread” for a sandwich.

    • January 6, 2019 5:52pm
      David Lebovitz

      I saw a recipe somewhere, where someone put falafel mixture in a waffle iron, and ended up with crispy falafel waffles! That piqued my interest…

      • Cyndy
        January 6, 2019 6:19pm

        I made jalapeño/corn cornmeal waffles in my mom’s waffle iron (still works after 65 years), a Bobby Flay recipe. Served with homemade salsa. Really good.

        I’ve never had a problem lifting the lid to check on food in the crockpot. That’s a new one on me. Most crockpots these days tend to cook too hot. My problem with them is gearing down the time so things don’t overcook and fall apart, even on low. The Kitchenaid brand is supposedly the closest to correct temperature for cook and keep warm. But alas, I don’t have room for one.

        I do have an Instant Pot for our “shackteau” in SW France due to the kitchen being so tiny. It comes in handy. But I’m just a home cook. I can see why a pro would want to do things differently.

        • BananaBirkLarsen
          January 7, 2019 6:26am

          I got my crackpot from a yard sale for $5. It’s avocado green and definitely from the 70s. I heard they upped the “low” temp a while back due to food safety concerns, but mine cooks at the lower, less safe (read: better) temperature. I used to make cream cheese in it.

          Also, I totally get why someone wouldn’t want to use a crackpot while at home. My dutch oven is the best and I use it when I can watch the oven for a few hours. But it sure is nice to come home after a 10 hour shift and have a hot meal waiting for me in my crackpot.

      • gfy
        January 8, 2019 9:10pm

        On the other hand did you ever try making those rice cooker pancakes? They come out super puffed – layer cake proportions!

  • Jesse
    January 6, 2019 5:23pm

    If slow cooking is what you want to do, an Instant Pot is not a good answer. I had a couple of fails with mine and I called customer service to see what I was doing wrong. They said that the IP can do some slow cooking but it is intended to be a pressure cooker. A good slow cooker will have heating elements on the bottom and on the sides, while the IP has only bottom ones. I love my IP for pressure cooking and making rice, but not as a slow cooker.

  • Jon
    January 6, 2019 5:27pm

    Don’t forget that you got your slow cooker from the same place you got your dishwasher…

  • Rockland Heights
    January 6, 2019 5:28pm

    I completely agree with you. I only use the mixer, the blender and the dishwasher as electric equipment. I do like the le creuset type pots, however, and do my “slow” but always checking cooking in those.

    Happy new year to you Sir.

  • Cathleen
    January 6, 2019 5:33pm

    My takeaway from all this- you’ve been cooking long enough to know what you’re doing, and all the “advice” from us is mostly noise.

  • usi
    January 6, 2019 5:37pm

    Dave, I’m with you on the slow cooker and on most of the other appliances you mention. If one has time to keep an eye on one’s cooking, they’re unnecessary and merely clutter up the kitchen.

    What baffles me is you having two (!) rice cookers. For many years, I cooked predominantly rice; I also used my rice cooker regularly. It worked, although I regularly lost some of the rice because it would get stuck on the bottom. Finally, I just gave the rice cooker away – took up too much precious space. Then I switched to brown rice, almost exclusively. Over the years, I have perfected my method so that I now always end up with soft, well defined grains and texture that invariably gets me great comments. My Basmatti also comes out perfectly, cooked as Indians do (soak, bring to boil with smallish amount of water, turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes). So if counter space is an issue in your kitchen, consider giving the heave to those rice cookers!

    • Valerie
      January 6, 2019 7:25pm

      usi, how long do you soak the rice? Do you use brown or white basmati rice? What is a “smallish” amount of water (ratio of rice to water?).

      • usi
        January 6, 2019 7:51pm

        Both types of rice should be soaked. I mostly use brown, rinse it thoroughly, soak it in plenty of water for 20-25 minutes, then boil with plenty of water for 23 minutes; drain, put a knob of butter in the hot saucepan and melt; return the drained rice to the pot, put the lid on and let it steam for another 5-10 minutes. Perfect every time. Basmatti: soak, drain, cook in about 150ml water per cup of rice; after about 15 minutes, check and if dry, add small amount of water.

  • bonnie groves poppe
    January 6, 2019 5:40pm

    Crock pots are good for soup, stew, making a broth from “parts”, etc. I like mine a lot, but would not try to cook anything in it like you did. It is quite good if you tend to forget what’s on the stove and burn it…..
    bonnie in provence

  • Alyson
    January 6, 2019 5:40pm

    Le Creuset every time..oven or hob, the flavour is always developed fully…and a sparse kitchen too,but a cupboard full of lovely things to flavour ..

  • Janis
    January 6, 2019 5:43pm

    Your slow cooker sounds like it is the small sized one which definitely would not cook your dish to perfection..nowadays the large one is more common…
    That being said I gave up on mine because I found that such long cooking, made beef and pork quite tasteless even with a lot of seasonings in the pot…a ton of liquid tends to accumulate which tends to boil the meat.
    Please try your Instant Pot and let us know how it went..I want to learn how to use mine..my friends rave over theirs..

    • January 7, 2019 9:37am
      David Lebovitz

      My slow cooker is 4,25 liters (about the same size in quarts) in capacity. Don’t know if that’s considered small or not?

      • Janis
        January 7, 2019 3:16pm

        David if it’s a tall one with a small base it’s difficult to get the meat cooked really well..at least in my opinion…
        I used to have one like that and after switching to a large oval cooker with a large base results were way more satisfactory..I could spread the meat and vegetables out so they cooked more evenly.
        By the way there are crockpots that brown the meat now…you no longer have to cook it separately…
        Besides the other uses mentioned here, a crockpot is perfect for people who work outside the home and don’t have time to prepare food from scratch, or those like me who are at home, but who on occasion can’t get to the kitchen in time for a complicated dish before dinner has to be on the table.
        I use it when I have to be in my studio all day (one floor below the kitchen) and although I no longer cook beef in it, it does make a nice coq au vin.

        • January 7, 2019 3:18pm
          David Lebovitz

          Thanks. I can brown the meat in mine (it has a lot of different settings) but the bottom can only hold so many pieces of meat at once, 2 or 3, leaving room between them so they really sear, rather than steam, so I went with using skillets on the stovetop. One of those lower, oval ones has more surface area for sure, but they take up more room ; )

          • Janis
            January 7, 2019 10:05pm

            Well there you go…that is the problem..the base is way too small..you need an oval one…there are many different styles on the market…believe it or not, some large oval crockpots can hold a turkey..
            I can spread out all my pieces of beef for a stew for four people, across the base of mine, along with the vegetables in one layer…
            I suspect yours would be perfect for soups, baked beans etc..

          • Janis
            January 7, 2019 10:09pm

            Oh yeah…I forgot…this is your Paris Kitchen…not as much cupboard space right? Although I thought with the reno you got more space than you had before, there never is enough for all these add on appliances…

  • Nancy
    January 6, 2019 5:44pm

    Thank you for being so open about all of your electrical appliances. So appropriate for me! I received an Instant Pot for Christmas, and it is bigger than I thought! I’ve been going through my 2 SMALL appliance cupboards, to make room. Found TWO immersion blenders, and other gadgets I won’t use anymore, and my dilemma is, do I get rid of my slow cooker? It is lovely white porcelain inside, as opposed to the Instant Pot, which is nice stainless on the inside. Hmmm.

  • Kate Tunison
    January 6, 2019 5:45pm

    Almost everything I’ve ever cooked in a slow cooker has a similar taste – kind of flat. I did make good, and easy, chicken stock in it once so I’ll keep it around for that. Its got it’s purpose especially if one needs a hot meal on the table after a day working, commuting etc. I’m a Le Creuset fan – always delicious!

  • Antoinette Higgins
    January 6, 2019 5:53pm

    Slow cooker versus Le Creuset…9 times out of 10 a slow 325F oven braise with the Creuset wins every time. David, I have just finished reading The Sweet Life in Paris. I did not want it to end. I was an au pair in Paris many years ago and you brought back so many memories. I shall save your book with my cookbooks for all the super recipes. Thanks !

  • annette Roydon
    January 6, 2019 5:53pm

    So, what is the recipe, love the ingredients and want to make it on the stovetop?

    • January 6, 2019 6:36pm
      David Lebovitz

      It’s from Dining In by Alison Roman.

  • Andrew
    January 6, 2019 5:55pm

    i just don’t understand “slow cookers” at all. most ovens now are digital and have timers, so you can “slow cook” easily in them. it’s just one more stupid thing to clutter the counter, and I don’t have time for it.

    • bonnie groves poppe
      January 6, 2019 6:16pm

      I believe its advantage is that it uses less energy, just heating what’s in the pot. If one has a large oven its kinda too bad to run it all day for just a bit of food.
      bonnie in provence

      • Sharon
        January 6, 2019 6:48pm

        Yes! I don’t heat the oven without baking several things to take advantage of heating it up.

        LOVE roasted root vegetables with olive oil and garlic, which my mother never used, so I get good use from the oven for these and baked desserts.

  • Adriana Gutierrez
    January 6, 2019 5:55pm

    Add me to those pushing back against bothsous vide and Instapot. I have a slow cooker and a pressure cooker (both gifts) taking up unwarranted amounts of storage space. I use the slow cooker a coupke of times a year when making broth, the pressure cooker maybe once a year.

  • Ila
    January 6, 2019 6:01pm

    Check Cook’s Illustrated article on slowcooking. Most slowcookers never reach the magic temperature which melts the collagen, rendering meat tender. Casserole, initial thermometer, and an overnight oven is way more reliable and concentrates flavors.

    • Cyndy
      January 6, 2019 6:25pm

      But what do you do in the morning with the food you’ve cooked overnight but aren’t eating until dinner?

    • MeanOnSunday
      January 8, 2019 8:34pm

      I couldn’t find the article but that seems unlikely. Any slow cooker can get water close to boiling on low and boil (212F) on high, which is plenty hot enough (too hot really ). If the temperature is down around 140F then that is definitely too low; anywhere close to boiling point will dissolve the collagen quickly but really dry out the meat. Optimal is probably in the 180F range with higher temps giving faster cooking. So for a slow cooker on low your liquid temp should be reaching 180F a couple of hours before it is ready.

      212F = 100C
      180F = 82C
      140F = 60C

  • Meg
    January 6, 2019 6:03pm

    Great article, David! I’m with you, re: slow cookers. However, perfect for caramelized onions. I made duck confit once and I intend to do that again following your recipe for duck rillettes. SC also good for stock and bone broth. Never knew one could make dulche de leche and lemon curd in SC. I have to look that up.

  • Abby Belknap
    January 6, 2019 6:03pm

    I was so happy to read your story. I am in rebellion against kitchen gadgets and I don’t even have a Microwave! I have a 1947 Wedgewood gas range and admittedly I don’t cook a lot, but what I do cook is good and I work around recipes as you have. I don’t have a big kitchen and I don’t want to waste the space with appliances that take up space, either on the counter or in the limited cupboard. I find it annoying when recipes assume you have every gadget available and must use it. My hero chefs never had these things.
    If I was a successful restaurateur I would buy them all and give them a try. But then my kitchen and storage would be enormous! thanks for your wonderful newsletter!

  • Bob Knudson
    January 6, 2019 6:03pm

    It notice that one of the photos on this post shows some coriander seeds. I recently discovered, from an excellent spice shop here in Seattle, that there are two varieties….”Indian” and “European.” I’m not sure what the difference is, except that (obviously) the former variety should be used in Indian dishes.

  • January 6, 2019 6:16pm

    Slow/insta cookers seem to promise set and forget convenience and that’s about all.

    While debating the expense of a sous vide gadget, I realized my induction plate can hold precise temps, which is most of the challenge. It also substitutes for (see above) very nicely, albeit the two hour timer needs periodic attention.

    Right now, brining a 4.5 lb pork butt before heading over to the grill for 5-6 hours of mostly don’t peek unattended bbq.

  • Charlene V.
    January 6, 2019 6:19pm

    I agree as well. Particularly because we only eat fish in our household, not meat, so not much need for those long, slow coking times. Also, when I make soup, I love seeing it simmering on the stove, smelling it, giving it a stir, and tasting it along the way. One of my criteria to know when you really love something is that you love the entire process, not just the end result. Researching recipes, perusing the pantry for ingredients, shopping, measuring, chopping and seeing my clean kitchen at the end is an entire wonderful experience for me. Yes, it even includes cleanup–as I once read, “When you wash the dishes, the dishes also wash you”!

    • Sharon
      January 6, 2019 6:40pm

      Love your thoughts about the whole process, which begins for me when I find fab cookbooks to add to my collection at tag sales, where I spend time looking thru’ the owner’s collection to make sure I’ll actually want to cook from them and not just add another book to my shelves. I get excited thinking about all those wonderful recipes that I’ll never live long enough to try! LOL!

      It is fun, just as you said. Now, if I could just develop your attitude about washing the dishes and cleaning up afterward! ; )

    • Linda Briganti
      January 6, 2019 7:52pm

      Thank you for the phrase “When you wash the dishes…”

  • Joyce Agress
    January 6, 2019 6:22pm

    If you get a new dishwasher, go for a Bosch with a 3rd rack – terrific for cooking tools. Mine doesn’t heat dry, but the extra shine setting means everything except plastics is dry at the end of the cycle. Plastics with water drops are a pain BUT no heater element means they don’t warp, either. I will let them air dry a few minutes in order to keep them in shape.

  • Peter Longenecker
    January 6, 2019 6:24pm

    Dishwasher: Bosch. Don’t even consider another brand.

    Melissa Clark got rid of both her rice cooker and slow cooker after she got an Instant Pot. So, one IP would replace three machines in your kitchen, plus you get THE pressure cooker, to boot.

  • Amanda Beresford
    January 6, 2019 6:26pm

    I’ve had a bread machine for years and after several indifferent experiments with actual bread in it, I now just use it to make pizza dough, which it does beautifully. It’s worth it for that alone–makes pizza an easy option! Happy New Year, and thanks for your posts, and for the lovely Tarte Normande, which I made last night for highly appreciative guests!

  • January 6, 2019 6:33pm
    David Lebovitz

    Joyce and Peter: I have a Bosch washer and dryer that have done well over the years although I had the dryer serviced because it wasn’t working after a while and after the guy took the whole machine apart, he told me about the second filter that needs to be cleaned, under the panel in the bottom of the dryer. I was considering getting a Miele dishwasher because I wash so many dishes and I heard very good things about them and have used them and found them to be really good. However someone recently told me they aren’t as good as they used to be and aren’t worth the extra price. (As for Melissa: I’m friends with her and I know she loves her IP, although another friend who wrote an IP cookbook, who loves hers, said I don’t need one since I’m home all day.)

    Amanda: Thanks – glad you (and everyone else) liked the tart!

    • Leslie
      January 6, 2019 8:06pm

      I made the tarte Normandy with a friend on Christmas Eve — we made two, one each for each of our family’s Christmas dinner. Her husband said it was the most delicious tarte he had ever tasted — I agree :)

    • Helen Russo
      January 7, 2019 12:34am

      I have a Bosch, it works quite well, however before our water softener and filters (before & aft, we have very hard water!) was added, we had to add a citrus product to help wash dishes (but not with loads that had dishes/etc with painted on decor.) I do have to clean the two filters in the bottom and beef fat is a real stinker. I also use a bread maker when pressed for time (bread baker for over 34 years), and it makes good sandwich bread, and yes, great dough. When you work, like me, you make it work. :)

    • Donna
      January 7, 2019 11:32pm

      Miele dishwashers in France for the win! We just received a new dishwasher (after a twenty year ‘run’ with our old Gaggenau…and we are VERY pleased. Nothing needs to be ‘pre-washed/rinsed’…practical third rack for cutlery, whisks and general cooking tools…quiet as all get-out, and it has a “QuickPowerWash” cycle “topissisme” that leaves everything nickel in less than an hour. I think that Miele’s ‘service après vente’ is really top-notch too…at least in the Pays de Gex!

  • Tucsonbabe
    January 6, 2019 6:39pm

    The only kind of slow cooker to own is one with an insert that can go on the stovetop for browning. That way, you limit yourself to one cooking vessel which can then go into the dishwasher. They are expensive, but worth every dollar.
    Now, if I could just figure out what to do with the Insta-Pot sitting out in my garage, I would be a happy woman.

  • Adriana Gutierrez
    January 6, 2019 6:41pm

    If you decide to upgrade your dishwasher seriously consider splurging for a Fischer & Paykel dish drawer, or 2! We opted for 2 18” dishdrawers, one for mugs, wine glasses and drinking glasses and the other for dishes and silverware. The shortest cycle only uses 1.5 gallons of water, and the s,ide out feature is a joy for aging backs.

  • Bernadette
    January 6, 2019 6:45pm

    My sister has been on me for years to get a slow cooker, I don’t have the room but mostly don’t have the interest. I love both of my Dutch ovens and the years have been a bit rough on the one with red wine stains but it still does its job so well.

    America’s Test Kitchen has a new book out with 150 Dutch oven recipes, if anyone is interested; haven’t picked it up yet.

    Also David, I’m fairly new to Instagram but I just love your page there!

  • Jere
    January 6, 2019 6:52pm

    At last someone who is not enthralled by the Instant Pot(surely misnamed) I am 92 years old..learned how to use the computer (obviously ..not demented yet) still drive etc I felt left out so I purchased “The Fave of the Masses) Opened the box/Shut the box, and wrapped it in silver paper with a lovely ribbon and gave it to my neighbor for Christmas…I have never looked back. I love my Dutch Oven and my peeking at what’s cooking. David you are right on.
    I’m with you..Jere

  • Peter
    January 6, 2019 6:57pm

    Great article! You’re quite the mensch! I love your humble-ness! For the expert you are it is refreshing!

  • Catherine Browne
    January 6, 2019 7:08pm

    Serious Eats published a devastating critique of slow cookers: https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/10/why-pressure-cookers-are-better-than-slow-cookers.html
    They found a Dutch oven generally gave the best results in terms of taste, with pressure cookers a close second.

    • maureen
      January 6, 2019 9:45pm

      Right, not a slow cooker lover. I gave it up because it doesn’t go slow enough-I hear the old ones had a lower temperature, til there were complaints of food poisoning. So now as far as I know, jeu fixed the food-poisoning problem & the slo-cookers don’t offer a low enough temperature. I can’t imagine a slo cooker going for 9 hours. Really? Food would be dead, carbon. Anyway, I do love LeCreuset, but I’m getting older & like the lightness of aluminum. Very rough cuz it doesn’t cook anywhere as well as LeCreuset. I do have my grandmother’s cast iron which is perfection! I do still use it, & take care of it like fine jewelry. No oils to season it-NO NO! They turn to hard gel. You must use animal fats only. You are a gem David!

    • Dan T
      January 8, 2019 2:11pm

      Was about to post this as well. Really worth the read. I never liked my crock pot, but love my pressure cookers.

      This comment was particularly helpful: “…any slow cooker recipe will come out better if you make the exact same recipe in a Dutch oven with the lid slightly cracked, placed on a rack in a 225°F oven for the day.”

  • Andrea
    January 6, 2019 7:16pm

    I’m a gadget queen too and have far too many for my fairly small kitchen. I find my slow cooker works a treat though – it takes about 4 hours to make melt in the mouth stews and casseroles with plenty of stock and wine. I think the secret is adding lots of liquid to the meat, just as you would in a Dutch oven.

    Forget about the weighted blanket (I returned mine after a week) and buy a German waffle maker instead, it will make you so much happier :-)
    Happy New Year!

  • KA Morrill
    January 6, 2019 7:18pm

    I continue to have a deep ambivalence for my crockpot. Over the years, I’ve developed three recipes that are great: Pork carnitas, ‘baked’ beans and cassoulet (heresy, I know, but it works.) The rest of the time, it is consigned to keeping things warm for parties and when my mother comes to visit, because I have yet to be convinced that it is a better way of cooking vs my le Creuset casserole.

  • January 6, 2019 7:18pm

    It seems to me that all these gadgets all have a few tricks that they are good at. I use my slow cooker for chili, and sauces, maybe pulled pork or carnitas. I never use the low setting, and I never cook anything more than a few hours, I can get a nice simmer, and the bottom of the pot is not in danger of burning. I always found that slow cooking looses flavor if you cook anything for an ungodly length of time. As for the Instapot, great for stock and cooking dry beans to tender if I am in a hurry although they always seem to get finished on the stove. People have been trying to impress me with their sous vide skills, so far I am not impressed. I saw Tyler Florence do some fried chicken he started sous vide then deep fried. That looks good to me and makes sense. I don’t think I will be using my Instapot or sous vide to be making a hard boiled egg anytime soon.

  • Tatiana
    January 6, 2019 7:20pm

    Hmm. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer with a broken grease gasket (which I need to find someone reliable to fix). A larger toaster oven (which is good for cooking sides at Thanksgiving, an immersion blender, regular blender (not a Vitamix) and a food processor. Also have a waffle iron that was used every weekend until my child went to college and then moved to SF upon graduation and then adopted a low carb diet. The tools I reach for most are my cutting board and one of my wonderful knives that I’ve had for over 30 years.
    Back in the 60s/70s my mother had the hugest slow cooker that she would simmer Gołąbki in. That was the only dish I remember her making in it.

  • Stephanie
    January 6, 2019 7:22pm

    In the crockpot, I just make apple butter, pork rillettes, and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. I keep it at my grandfather’s because I never use it at my house (he has the apple tree too). I LOVE my sous vide and my instant pot. It would be difficult for me to choose one over the other. Rack of lamb made sous vide!!! Hard boiled easy peel eggs in the Instant Pot! But yesterday I used only Le Creuset. So it’s all about what works best for each chef but I’ve managed to keep all my gadgets in my tiny SF kitchen except for the crock pot. And it’s only a smidgen larger than my Paris kitchen was ;-)

    • Meg
      January 6, 2019 7:53pm

      Never thought about pork rillettes in the SC. I have to look that up as well. Thank you.

    • Zoe
      January 8, 2019 12:40am

      I honestly think my Instant Pot is worth it just for the easy peel hard-boiled eggs! Everything else is just a bonus (but did get rid of our rice cooker and now do all our rice in the IP, we recently moved to Colorado and it’s helpful with the altitude).

  • Bill McKinley
    January 6, 2019 7:33pm

    I like to think of kitchen gadgets as tools. Some are appropriate for certain tasks but not others; think screw driver as pry bar – it works, but not well.

    I am lucky to have space to store some gadgets that i rarely use. Immersion blender – every day for soups, white sauces etc. Immersion circulator (Sous vide) not so much, but if I need to plan and cook a couple of dozen soft boiled eggs perfectly I know where the tool is.

    Slow cookers are good for keeping pot luck offerings hot after they have been cooked in an appropriate manner – although it is excellent for chile con queso.

    Just my thoughts as an ex-mechanic and sometime cook. Happy New Years and I look forward to all your posts and recipes.

  • Laura M.
    January 6, 2019 7:39pm

    Yes, David — listen to Cat S.! I bought a CrockPot for my Paris apartment last year, and have been amazed at the results! I liked it so well that I purchased another (identical) one for Berkeley.

    So Cat’s on the right track: it’s not “slow cooking” that’s the problem; it’s that you’re using inferior equipment. Le vôtre est trop petit et apparemment impuissant.

    Here’s what you need: Slow Cooker. It’s 38.1 cm (almost 15″) wide and *super-easy to clean* (the insert goes on the bottom rack of the dishwasher, but it’s simple to wash by hand).

    It costs less than 100€, and I’ve cooked bone-in brisket and leg of lamb in it; last winter I created an impromptu chili made up of whatever beans were taking up space on my kitchen shelves, and it was delicious! (Lasted three days.)

    Your “freebie” is a weebie.

  • Michele
    January 6, 2019 7:42pm

    I too, have all the small appliances. My husband bought me (actually it was something he wanted) an air fryer for Christmas. That thing is BIG so it can’t live on the counter. It will have to go in the garage.
    I have a KitchenAid slow cooker. I usually just prep, put everything in, and leave it for hours. My new go to slow cooker cookbook is “The Chef And The Slow Cooker” by Hugh Acheson.

  • Carl Bach
    January 6, 2019 7:47pm

    A number of years ago we found a full-sized SC(yours is too small) at a vide grenier in the Rousillon. It now has a number of cracks in it but still holds liquid and is treated like fine china so it won’t break, My wife loves it. We have searched the area for a new one and il n’existe pas. We keep looking in our vide greniers. A tip: Put the the actual pot in the microwave at the start (10 mins)to jump start the whole process.

  • Caroly
    January 6, 2019 7:56pm

    I so wanted to scream at you “don’t listen to the machine people”. The best use for a slow cooker is keeping something warm after it’s been properly cooked in a braiser. And on another note, a weighted blanket sounds like torture to me! Resist, David! Love your books and your blog and everything else you put out in the universe!

    • Helen
      January 7, 2019 1:54am

      I hope you give your weighted blanket a chance. In the beginning it takes getting used to, but after a week, it is fabulous. I’ve been using my Gravity weighted blanket for a month, and I absolutely love it.

      • January 7, 2019 10:09am
        David Lebovitz

        Glad you like the blanket. Which one did you get?

        • Helen
          January 7, 2019 10:36am

          After doing a lot of research, I got the Gravity weighted blanket. I am very pleased with it, and with the excellent customer service.

          • January 7, 2019 10:56am
            David Lebovitz

            Ah, thanks. I didn’t realize “Gravity” was a brand name. A friend got this one and really loves it, although that brand doesn’t seem to be available in France. So I’ll look around…

          • Helen
            January 7, 2019 11:29am

            The important thing about buying a weighted blanket is to get the proper weight. It should be 10% of your body weight. If it’s not exact, go up. Fo example, for a person who weighs 130 pounds, you would get the 15-pound blanket.

            I know that Gravity sold out over Christmas, but now has inventory. I just bought another one for a gift.
            Good luck! I hope you are able to find the best one for you.

  • Carolyn
    January 6, 2019 7:57pm

    Oops, Carolyn, that’s me!

  • Naomi D.
    January 6, 2019 8:09pm

    I got a slow cooker a couple of years back, to attempt cooking Indian food. I’ll get to that sometime (first I must get past the intimidation of what are truly necessary ingredient purchases for that). Rice cooker? Nah, just cook up the local rice here in Louisiana (Jazzmen rice, which is great because it doesn’t get desiccated – don’t order it for there but buy it next time you’re in the States). I’m still hesitant on the pressure cooker; can’t they go off like an atomic bomb? The immersion blender is great! – for ceramic glazes.

  • aimee
    January 6, 2019 8:11pm

    Afternoon. This isn’t a comment related to the slow cooker (I’ve avoided owning one of those as well), but about the rss feed. Your blog stopped appearing on my rss feed a month ago and I was wondering if anything changed behind the scenes? I still get email notifications so that’s good, but I like to use feedly to organize the blogs I read. Happy New Year!

  • Liz Ruork
    January 6, 2019 8:12pm

    i seem to manage with an absolutely minimum of small appliances.
    I have a rice cooker, a small zojirushi I bought in 1995.. an immersion blender-very very handy…. a stainless espresso maker a breville nespresso model… a magimix that gets very little use …. a spice grinder which gets a bit more … a kitchen aid mixer that hasn’t been out of the laundrey room since 2017… I cook almost every thing in the oven even soup… at very low temps for a very long time…
    And btw why do you have to brown before braising…
    I throw a bunch of lamb shanks red wine garlic, lots and lots of shallots, and a good dollop of red current jelly thyme salt and pepper into a ceramic “lasagna dish” cover with crumpled wet parchment and tightly sealed foil and into a 250 oven for the day… it comes out well browned,tender and delicious.
    Similar method different seasoning fro English cut short ribs … likewise brown tender and delish… seating just hardens the proteins IMHO.

  • Molly F. C.
    January 6, 2019 8:25pm

    We made dressing/stuffing waffles in our waffle iron post Thanksgiving. Added an egg to the leftover dressing along with vegetable broth. Turkey or chicken broth would be great too. Packed it into the waffle iron, and cooked until crispy-ish. Put shredded cheddar cheese on top along with leftover turkey. Others did without the cheese but added mashed potatoes and a little cranberry sauce. So delicious.
    Also, I bake my rice. Comes out great.

  • Mouse
    January 6, 2019 8:39pm

    We live in the woods and there are often power failures. I am more and more enjoying old-fashioned non-electric kitchen things, like the heavy cast iron spice grinder that does the work with elbow grease and friction. We have a manual coffee-grinder for power failures, and I love my Le Creuset passionately. I am lucky in that I am not usually pressed for time, and I also find that cooking is a slightly more physical activity, which isn’t a bad thing.

    But my friends are adoring their Instant Pots; we’ll see if I am seduced…..

  • nadine
    January 6, 2019 8:42pm

    I have had the same $15 slow cooker for 20 years. It is oval white porcelain removable pot with a pyrex glass top, and the largest one I could find. Never had problems with cleaning it etc. Mainly used it for lamb stews, beef stews, bison arm roast stews. I always use it on low and and brown the meat and veggies in my cast iron skillet. Hardly ever had to add extra liquid or broth. Onions and carrots etc on the first layer then meat on top. I open it and look /taste often. No problem.

    One issue is it does get hot on the bottom, even on low. So I use it on the concrete floor of my garage. Put everything together before I go to sleep. In the morning it’s ready. Tender and tasty. I add any dried spices I might use towards the end, they tend to rehydrate and get stronger.

    Recently I got a one temperature small pot at a yard sale, and am going to try making a simple ingredient chocolate fudge with it.

    Thank you David for all the energy and love you put into your posts. I have reading and enjoying for many years.

  • January 6, 2019 8:44pm
    David Lebovitz

    Bernadette: Glad you like following me on Instagram!

    aimee: Thanks. I can’t figure out why it’s not updating. I sent a message to my web people, who I think are on holiday break & hopefully they can figure it out when they’re back.

    Caroly: Yes, but they were very loud! : ) Actually I was quite interested in how people, over the year, were viscerally attached to the various appliances that I mentioned. I remember when the food processor came out, which caused a big sensation and was one of the first small appliances out of the gate, and it’s stuck around. Others, not so much.

    Stephanie: Actually…the reason I finally opened the box my slow cooker was in (for 2-3 year…), was because I was making apple butter and thought it would do the trick better than stirring, and dealing with all the hot splattering. It was good for that, although Romain took one look at the dark brown, paste (the finished apple butter) and said he didn’t want to eat that ; )

  • Vickie
    January 6, 2019 8:50pm

    Like you, I tend to collect too many small kitchen appliances! I stopped using my slow cooker a while ago, and should get rid of it. I’m kind of nostalgic about it because it was one of the early ones from the 70s. I have an Instant Pot, and can probably use the slow cook feature on that for similar result.

  • vrinda bhalla
    January 6, 2019 8:59pm

    Well, if you had used a pressure cooker you’d have been done in 40 mins !and YUMMY
    It’s the 1 machine (pot) EVERYONE needs

  • Ellen
    January 6, 2019 9:05pm

    HaHa HAH! Too much stuff. My cast iron, (NEVER too many cast iron skillets! Rescues or new….), is perfect.
    I am pretty pleased with an immersion blender, and inherited an All Clad waffle iron I like-on occasion.
    But, boy. I keep that crazy stuff to a minimum! And I have a 3 bedroom in Sacramento – not a flat in Paris. Ta
    PS: Hate hate hate cleaning the processor. I should give it to Goodwill

  • Basak
    January 6, 2019 9:07pm

    It’s very interesting that most people doesn’t refer the problem here. Your slow cooker is not working properly David. Period. That company should be in your black list after both products failed like this! I only use my slow cooker for ‘old fashion style raised real chicken’ and lamb and pulled beef and every single time that rubber hard chicken is falling off the bone and juicy. You don’t need it though…it is really for people who entertains crowds and busy/weird schedule workers. Btw, I made your panforte, loved it

  • Nina Koritchneva
    January 6, 2019 9:19pm

    Hi David, I have to chime in with your other readers about slow cookers – I don’t get the point. It takes forever and I’ve had some pretty poor veggie chilli with undercooked vegetables from it (at someone else’s house). Apparently it’s been going for the whole day at that point… Maybe it is good for keeping mulled wine or cider at the right temperature, funny how it doesn’t actually ‘cook’ anything though! A pressure cooker, on the other hand, is amazing. I use an old school stovetop model, which requires a bit of trust because you can’t peek but it actually works – lentil soup in 7 minutes, perfect brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat every time, and great for cooking beans. Otherwise the Dutch oven! I don’t have space for anything else right now, in the future I’m dreaming of the KitchenAid stand mixer and a Magimix food processor.

  • Retta
    January 6, 2019 9:34pm

    I agree that your SC was too small and weak. My crockpot is just over 9″ in diameter and so is actually bigger than my Creuset dutch oven. It is also a bit deeper. I use it mostly for pot roast, pulled pork, and beef stews, and once a very successful corned beef boiled dinner. I throw everything in in the morning and it is always ready by supper time. Plenty of flavor and pull-apart tender.

  • Susan
    January 6, 2019 9:34pm

    David, trust your instincts. I avoid “gadget” appliances and have always relied on my ,now, 30 plus year old enameled cast iron. Put together whatever-it-is-being made and stick it in the oven on a low heat for 6-8,more hours and have never had a problem. I do check what’s going on in the pot every now and then.

  • Barbara Doty
    January 6, 2019 9:49pm

    David, your slow cooker sounds like a “ lemon” plus is too small. We love our “ crock pot”! Recently replaced our old one because it had a badly crazed insert. It’s a 5 quart oval size. We use it for making delicious (pre soaked)bean soups with a ham hock plus chillies & tomatoes. Pot roasts ( beef or pork) stuffed with fresh garlic cloves & cooked all day, I’ve never pre browned them. They tase great & the house smells amazing. Leftover pork can be shredded next day & pan fried with adobo chilli for Mexican dishes. Also a whole chicken with half a lemon inside it cooked all day will make a pot of stock & tender chicken to use in soup or enchiladas.

  • Teresa G.
    January 6, 2019 10:13pm

    I highly recommend a weighted blanket! I used to wake up and toss and turn a lot at night and now, even if I wake up (which is far less often than before), I fall back asleep almost immediately. It’s amazing!

  • Jean
    January 6, 2019 11:12pm

    Slow cookers should be relegated to church pot luck suppers. They can keep the food warm that you cooked at home in your Dutch Oven.

  • Helen
    January 6, 2019 11:39pm

    I’m glad you’re giving the slow cooker another chance. I think it is meant for people who are not home for long stretches of time. I think everyone has to find their own way with appliances.
    It’s very important to know how to beat egg whites for meringues by hand, and know how to beat yolks to form the ribbon by hand. I was fortunate to attend le Cordon Bleu In Paris, and increase my knowledge of traditional techniques. ,
    A slow cooker is a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. I’ve used it for braises and stews, and it works fine.
    I love my batterie de cuisine. I have almost every size and shape of le Creuset, and when I lived in Paris I was an accro chez Dehillerin. I was fortunately able to bring a container load with me when I moved back. I just love looking at my Dehillerin copper pots brightening my kitchen, even if I rarely use them.

  • Jennifer
    January 6, 2019 11:42pm

    Rather than a weighted blanket, have you ever tried an old-fashioned heavy wool blanket or two? They have that comforting weight to them–perhaps not as heavy as something with actual weights in it, but still heavy–and they regulate temperature like you wouldn’t believe. The downside is that you will come to hate staying in hotels where you can’t escape the duvet. I’m a blanket addict (forget the kitchen appliances–I cook daily and well on an electric stove from the 1980s) and as far as I’ve discovered, the creme de la creme of heavy blankets comes from an online Bulgarian outfit called Home of Wool. I first bought a small one for the sofa to keep me warm while watching TV or reading, and actually have to avoid using it because it routinely puts me to sleep in 10 minutes. So I got a big one for the bed, too, where that’s the desired effect. I promise I have no commercial interest in this company whatsoever–just a lot of their wool in my house!

    • Helen
      January 7, 2019 11:00am

      I absolutely love my Gravity weighted blanket. It certainly has worked for me. It is nothing like sleeping under heavy woolen blankets. I didn’t feel comfortable with it, or notice the benefits until about 10 days later.

    • January 7, 2019 11:35am
      David Lebovitz

      One issue is that my partner hates weight on him at night (and believe me, I hear about it all night if there is…) So while I like a sizable comforter, he doesn’t so I’m worried about a weighted blanket. I think I have to find one that would only fit on half the bed – wonder if that exists? I know that they make duo-comforters for two people one side thicker and warmer than the other, but will have to see if there is weighted blanket like that…

      • Helen
        January 7, 2019 12:02pm

        David, the weighted blanket will cover only one person. They are constructed that way on purpose.
        My husband doesn’t need one, and mine doesn’t interfere at all with his sleep. Actually, since my sleep has dramatically improved, and I’m not tossing and turning for hours, his sleep has improved as well.
        I hope you can order one, and that it works for you. I know what a problem it can be.

  • Donna
    January 7, 2019 12:10am

    David, this is one of your BEST, humorous observation/posts ever. Completely concur with you and your fidèle flock of followers with regards to the ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ overall impression of the slow cooker. Reeling over “if someone would invent a self-cleaning food processor I’d be in for sure.” RIGHT?!!…You totally read my mind.

  • Kristin
    January 7, 2019 12:56am

    Ironically I made your carnitas recipe today in my crock pot. It turned out great. I browned the pork, deglazed the pan with an IPA, put it all in the crockpot on high for four hours. Opened lid at 2.5 hours to flip pieces and check on it. My high setting has visible fast simmer through the glass lid. Cooled and shredded slightly, heated up with some off the juice in the oven, then broiled to get it crispy. It’s probably better all in the oven, but I got to go to my daughter’s basketball game while the crockpot was going. I served it with the pickled red onion, cilantro, and feta. My corn tortillas were crappy, but besides that it was the perfect combination of flavors. All made possible with the crock pot. Love your flavor profiles!

    • Kristin
      January 7, 2019 1:03am

      Just got an ice cream maker if that counts as one of the machines taking over the world. Nothing is better than my blue star oven though. My instapot is collecting dust.

  • Tommy
    January 7, 2019 12:58am

    I hate crock pots, all the food tastes like grey stew……dishwashers, Miele that door does not open on its own, fyi, if door motor breaks, you can’t use it, it happened to me! Second choice, HIGH end bosch. You’ll never regret a Miele!

  • C C C
    January 7, 2019 1:13am

    First let me say Happy New year and I love your blogs because you make food with love, in a relaxed and very human way. And that makes me smile.

    Second, slow cookers aren’t all that but they have their place if you want a decent bean soup you can walk away from and not worry about scorching the beans/onions…I have one that has a stirring feature which is nice. BUt I find they take forever to get tot a temp that’s going to actually cook the meat thoroughly.

    I have found using an electric pressure cooker with a slow cook setting is much handier and far more versatile – for example, if I’ve cooked a piece of meat for a day and it’s still not tender and I want to eat the damned thing, I pressure cook it and get to where I want t be.

    Or go the other way – pressure cook then slow cook. Or go back and forth. Some cuts, you just don’t know how long…most tough fatty meat breaks down nicely if it’s got the right fat tissue ratio. I’d rather skim off fat than deal with dry protein.

    My pressure cooker has taken the place of many pots. The braise setting is killer hot and you’ll get that fantastic carmelizing that’s the foundation of any good gravy/sauce.

    Anyway, slow cookers are good when you must leave the dish to cook for a long period and you can’t stand over it. Some people even bake with them! I’m not sure how that would work out though.

  • Karen Brown
    January 7, 2019 2:28am

    I’m in the “nays” camp on slow cookers. Takes too much space for a machine that I only ever use for stock-making. But the new Cuisinart waffle maker that has plates that lift off and can go in the dishwasher! Not having to clean out all those pockets and crevices means that waffles are on the menu-a lot! Spicy chili cheese cornbread waffles with baco and salsa, lemon ricotta waffles with David’s recipe for blueberry conserve (cooked with gin). I have surprised myself with how often I use it. Cheers, karen

  • Tom Luhnow
    January 7, 2019 4:01am

    I got a 6 qt slow cooker; I gave that to my younger sister when my husband wouldn’t eat all the left overs it made. Got a 2 qt one; it was too small; gave it to an AIDS charity. Got a 4 qt one; it’s sitting in the garage. Same for so many other gadgets. I’m with you, David.

  • Kirsten
    January 7, 2019 6:25am

    I did read that a sous vide machine is fantastic for tempering chocolate…

    • January 7, 2019 9:39am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve read that too. However when melting and temperating pure chocolate, even getting a drop of water in contact with the chocolate can cause it to seize. So I’m wondering if people are ‘cooking’ the chocolate in a plastic bag, in a pot of simmering water, how they avoiding getting even a single drop of water in the chocolate? (I can’t imagine how one gets every little drop of water off one of those bags.)

      • Dan T
        January 8, 2019 2:16pm

        I think you’d have to use a vacuum-sealed bag — a ziploc type bag just wouldn’t do.

        The seal on a vacuum-sealed bag is sturdy enough that you could really attack it with a towel and dry it off really well.

    • BeinNM
      January 8, 2019 6:19am

      I’m really intrigued with the idea of tempering chocolate using a sous vide (of which if have two–long story). I temper a lot of chocolate. But I agree with David: How on earth do you avoid a single drop of water getting into your very expensive chocolate? My biggest problem using a sous vide device is getting the seal, and in the process, I nearly always end up wet to the elbows and with drops of water everywhere.

      Another note on sous vide: I had a big crowd for a holiday dinner and cooked prime rib. One 5-rib roast was cooked to 133F, and one 2 rib roast was cooked to 136F, for those who liked better done beef. Both came out perfectly. I rarely cook prime rib (once a year, in fact), so the perfect doneness achieved by the sous vide method was a godsend.

  • Gavrielle
    January 7, 2019 6:48am

    I don’t use my slow cooker much, but it’s invaluable for making overnight steel cut oats. Because I am *not* getting up in the morning and faffing around with that. But then I don’t need a slow cooker, as like you I work from home. For people who throw in ingredients in the morning and after a long tiring day come home to a cooked meal, I can see why they’re popular.

  • Sigrid
    January 7, 2019 11:10am

    I’m especially with you concerning the Thermomix. I do use my pressure cooker because it saves cooking time. The slow cooker I bought because my son wanted to make short ribs. But actually I don’t really need it because my induction stove can keep any low temperatures for hours without overheating and turn off after five hours automatically. That and my wonderful cast iron Le Creuset pots are sufficient. I also have an immersion cooker and I tried a sous vide version for duck over Christmas. It was not worth effort.

    • January 7, 2019 11:19am
      David Lebovitz

      They were a popular item for a while, for sure. Part of their mystique to Americans was that they weren’t available. (There was a good article about that subject in the NYT in 2005.) They once offered me one to test out – which is common for journalists; when you’re done, you give it back so you’re not beholden to the company. Mysteriously, the offer was retracted before I had a chance to test it out. I think some people are very happy with theirs as I know they have sort of a cult following and now they’re available in the U.S., too.

  • Susan
    January 7, 2019 11:20am

    An Instant Pot is just a pressure cooker, and it works very well. It makes excellent rice, in about the same period of time, so you could get rid of the two rice cookers and acquire an IP.

    Pressure Cookers have been in use for decades in India, and that is my next project; learning to cook Indian food in a pressure cooker.

    I have never had success with a slow cooker, and nor have I ever liked anything other people have prepared in one. The most significant problem I have with a slow cooker is that you can’t reduce anything and concentrate the flavors. It is just plain counter-intuitive.

  • Amy B
    January 7, 2019 11:32am

    I agree that one needs just a few tools to cook well. I have worked hard to purge my kitchen of underused gadgets, but still have work to do. I do admit, I like my instant pot. It replaced the slow cooker, rice cooker, pressure cooker, and yogurt maker. I love to cook, but not all of the time, and I find the pressure cooker especially useful.

    I also got rid of my Cuisinart years ago, and put my stand mixer in the cellar. And no microwave. Shocking! But my Le Creuset, thin cast iron cooking pan, cooking knives, Cuisinart toaster oven (this has replaced 90% of my oven usage!) and Benriner are my most used tools, hands down!

    I think every cook needs to find what works for them and appropriately manage their own clutter.

  • amelia
    January 7, 2019 1:19pm

    Slow cookers are a low-energy way to cook anything one would normally simmer in a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot (‘les plat mijotés). That’s about it. But that can be very useful in a tiny Paris kitchen, especially if one needs to be away for a few hours. Great coq au vin, Guinness stew, black beans, etc. but there’s no tight seal (on purpose) to trap the heat – hence the undercooked meat. You can make an amazing apple butter in one, starting with cored and peeled second-choice apples, some cider and spices. Just keep adding apples (like five kilos’ worth) until it looks and tastes right.

  • Shelley
    January 7, 2019 5:27pm

    Oh gadgets, not my favourite for many reasons, washing up is a major no no for me. The slow cooker too slow and by the time I had smelt it all day I did not want to eat it. Thermomix, not for me either, a sales rep told me I could make great porridge, I think a pot and a wooden spoon work perfectly. Each to his own though!

  • latenac
    January 7, 2019 5:35pm

    I just made this recipe following her instructions for the first time about a week ago. I found myself wondering if it would be a good slow cooker recipe. I use my slow cooker mainly for beans and stock but occasionally some other recipes like this one.

    I think you have a non functioning slow cooker. Also I have made at least 3 recipes in the slow cooker where the instructions had you flip things or stir things mid way. I’ve never had an issue checking on things. It does help things if they’re hot when you put them in like browning the meat or bringing the beans to a boil.

  • Anna
    January 7, 2019 6:57pm

    On weighted blankets, I do like mine, but it’s too warm to wear it very long. I’m sure it will be better when the weather cools off more.

  • January 7, 2019 9:25pm

    David, a rule of thumb that I’ve heard is that every time you take the lid off the slow cooker you lose a half hour of cooking time! These things have small heating elements and just don’t get the temperature back up very fast.

    It’s also possible that your slow cooker isn’t working right.

    I like to put a dry rub on a couple pounds of pork butt, put in a little cider vinegar, and slow cook for about four hours. I’ll put in a half bottle of liquid smoke, too. No need to take the lid off to smell it–you’re driven mad by the smell of pork cooking (and smoking!) all the time it cooks.

    The lack of a report of any aromas makes me think that your slow cooker may not be working right. It’s a very valuable appliance for a braise–it’s on the low-temp side of braise so very unlikely to overcook.

  • Jessica
    January 7, 2019 10:45pm

    David – I know you mentioned that you already have a sous-vide appliance but I’d like to mention that there’s a device from Dorkfood that converts a slow cooker into a sous vide cooker. Cost about US$100 and works pretty great imo. Definitely makes my good old slow cooker worth the shelf/counter space it takes up by being a multi-tasker!
    https://www.dorkfood.com

  • Heidi Husnak
    January 7, 2019 11:54pm

    I am not a gadget girl but I do have a slow cooker whichh came in handy on two kitchen gutting endeavors. It sits in th garage and only gets pulled out for stock (from roasted bones), and stepmom borrows it for Sauerkraut with ham hocks. Of course I lift the lid! Though I hang with gadget lovers on eGullet so I take the road of “to ea222ch their own” ;)

  • Donna
    January 8, 2019 12:03am

    How has no one mentioned the dust-gathering capacity of the cuiseur-vapeur?! I have a two-tiered beauty forever lingering in a dark corner of my cupboard because of my dread of lugging it out and then post-meal clean-up! ‘Brilliantly’…I learned that a steamer basket in a large All-Clad pot does the job just as efficiently!

    • January 9, 2019 7:15am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve wondered about those electric steamers, too. Not sure they work better (or are faster) than a simple steamer basket in a saucepan!

  • ParisGrrl
    January 8, 2019 1:15pm

    Best 5 euros I’ve spent in Paris was for a very basic second-hand slow cooker. It’s true that not all recipes work well in them, but the ones that do are wonderful–there’s nothing like setting the thing up in the morning (or early afternoon, as my French crockpot cooks faster than its American counterparts) and coming home to the aroma of well-simmered dinner. One of my favs: https://www.lecremedelacrumb.com/slow-cooker-barbacoa-beef/

  • patty
    January 8, 2019 2:13pm

    I put a beef roast in the slow cooker and it is like leather. I will have to put it on the stove with water and slowly cook it to fork tender. Recently I learned I can slow cook a whole butternut squash in the slow cooker – you don’t need to cut off the stem or poke any holes in it – just toss it in! After 6 – 8 hours it is soft and ready to go. I take it out of the slow cooker, slice it in half, scrap out the seeds then the flesh.

  • Rachel
    January 8, 2019 4:32pm

    I had two slow cookers that I never used and when we moved to New York City this fall, I got rid of both, only to find that my partner had just came home with a new one from the store. He insisted it would make meal prep easier so it came to New York with us. When he finally pulled it out of the closet to make a meal, he first sauteed the onions and garlic in a skillet and then simmered the soup he was making in the slow cooker on high and then ladled it into a pot to cook on the stove with noodles. I was utterly baffled at how a slow cooker could result in so many dirty cooking pans and soup dripped everywhere — wasn’t the point to make a tidy, one-pan meal? That slow cooker was donated shortly thereafter =) I find a Dutch oven usually does the job much better!

    • January 9, 2019 7:14am
      David Lebovitz

      I see slow cooker and Instant Pot recipes that call for doing part of the prep in a skillet, then putting the food into the machine, then finishing it on a baking sheet, under the broiler. It seems like the idea is to use the best of all worlds – a skillet to fry, since it does the best job doing that, a slow cooker or IP pot for braise, since it excels at that, and a broiler to brown : )

  • Emma
    January 8, 2019 5:11pm

    Honestly what is the difference between cooking a stew on low temp at the right temperature (just lightly bubbling) in the stove in a Le Creuset and doing the same in a slow cooker ?

    • Cyndy
      January 8, 2019 5:44pm

      The stove uses more energy; heats up the house.

      In our non air-conditioned, tiny summer cottage, that means a lot.

      • Emma
        January 8, 2019 8:17pm

        Well it is relevant if you have a gas stove, but they are the minority, this changes completely with electric or induction stoves

        • Cyndy
          January 8, 2019 9:19pm

          I don’t. We have an electric stove in an open great room of 55 sq. meters. It is just too darn hot to use the stove in July and August. I’m not sure what the difference is with induction, but perhaps one of those should be in my future.

  • arles
    January 8, 2019 5:11pm

    The slow cooker debate reminds me of a conversation with a chef couple back in the mid-90s. Owners a high-end and hugely successful restaurant in the Napa Valley, they both worked long hours. They also were parents of young children. When I asked how they managed meals at home, she confessed, “I wouldn’t want this to get around, but we use the Crock-Pot a lot.” Names withheld by request.

    I would love to have sampled their slow cooker meals.

    I like a slow cooker for certain things, including a kind of ersatz duck confit. The results are very good. I’m much more inclined to my pressure cooker, though. I’ve taken to using it for stock, and for cooking dried beans with no soaking. It took some trial and error to discover the right timing for beans, but now I can decide midday to make chili and have a very good one by dinnertime. Of course it’s better the following day, but what bean dish isn’t, regardless of cooking method? I only cook the beans in the PC; the rest of the chili or soup or whatever I’m making is done in a Le Creuset.

    Interesting the number of comments this post has generated.

  • Susan
    January 8, 2019 7:07pm

    David, such a great post (as usual. :)) I keep getting intrigued by bloggers like Heidi Swanson and writers like Melissa Clark who have been exploring the Instant Pot or slow cookers, wondering–should I buy this? Do I need this? Then a couple of weeks ago I made a huge batch of the braised beef with lots of onions (from Josh McFadden’s incredible Six Seasons) and, honestly–why on earth would you make that in a slow cooker? Browning the meat, browning the onions, catching the scent of the thyme and wine as they flowed around the kitchen (driving me insane with hunger in the process)–isn’t that what cooking is all about? I save that kind of cooking for my weekends, when I am home from work and have time to play in the kitchen. During the week I cook, but basic things–salads, grains, chicken or frittatas–anything I can get done quickly after a long day (and maybe take to work for lunch the next day.) I completely understand the concept and purpose of a slow cooker–my mom has one and uses it once in a while to make cholent, yum–but even that, she prefers to make traditionally. I guess, having grown up literally standing at the stove with my mother and my aunt, watching them cook, to me the machine takes the pleasure away from it. But it is a very personal thing.

    • January 9, 2019 7:16am
      David Lebovitz

      Both of them are very good cooks and I think they are enjoying the possibilities of the appliance. Some are for convenience, and others out of interest. Like other kitchen appliances, from food processors and stand mixers, to bread machines and yogurt makers, it’ll be interesting to look about in 5 or so years, and see what people are (still) cooking with, or not.

      • Cyndy
        January 9, 2019 2:22pm

        My guess is the Instant Pot will still be popular, as pressure cookers have been around forever, and the IP fits that bill plus more. I’m not sure about other “gadget” or single-purpose items. Two gadgets I have and love are my Cuisinart (which turned 40 this Christmas) and my mandoline. Oh, and the Kitchenaid stand mixer, which I should not have waited 40 years to buy!

  • arlene
    January 8, 2019 7:35pm

    Sous vide is a non starter with out the Seal A Meal type vacuum packaging…items float and its a pain/

  • E E Faris
    January 8, 2019 11:45pm

    David, I came to a similar conclusion on slow cookers when I tried one. Abandonment was my option too, and I never looked back.
    Even for something like a brisket or stew it’s possible to overcook. And, for me, it seemed like undercooked or overcooked happened more often than cooked just right in a slow cooker.
    If it gets people to make something they wouldn’t otherwise then that’s good. But I wonder how many others are thinking the result isn’t worth the effort, and get discouraged and give up.
    For me, I can get a lot closer to “just right” when I can check the dish myself.

  • Kat
    January 9, 2019 7:15pm

    I use my crockpot (slowcooker) several times a year. Once to make meatballs for the office party at Christmas, and the rest of the time to make soap. Crockpots are perfect for soapmaking.

  • claudia staines
    January 9, 2019 7:25pm

    I have enjoyed this ‘conversation’ very much, especially as I will be taking out my slow cooker again tomorrow to make another casserole.

    Mine is a 9×12, about 4″ deep appliance, absolutely perfect for making things like scalloped dishes (sometimes just potatoes, sometimes potatoes & meat, sometimes with rice or noodles).

    I have had oval slow cookers previously (always nice for soups/chili) but find this one perfect for when we have large gatherings (which is ALL the time!!). I can prepare and then forget a backbone dish to the meal and am able to serve it in casserole (even keep it warm at the buffet by keeping it in the heating unit, on ‘warm’). Doing this always allow me lots of time and space to get my hands into other dishes.

    And I just have to add… I couldn’t get the rice cooker we were given as a gift to work well for me. Honestly, I couldn’t see the point, but then, we’re not huge rice eaters so….

  • ajax
    January 9, 2019 9:47pm

    What spice grinder do you use?

    • January 10, 2019 12:33pm
      David Lebovitz

      I have an old Riviera & Bar coffee grinder that I use just for spices. It’s similar to the Krups or Braun ones. (Or this one.) Although I also use my mortar and pestle for them, too.

      • Helen
        January 10, 2019 8:21pm

        I use a very old little Braun coffee grinder that works very well. I actually use it quite a bit.
        I use it for black pepper garlic shrimp, Indian, and Chinese dishes. I first bought it in the late 70’s when I was taking Indian cooking lessons with the lovely and gracious Madhur Jaffrey. It’s still going strong.

  • January 9, 2019 9:52pm

    I agree, I need to stir, taste, add more of this and a little of that during the cooking process but the other reason I don’t use the slow cooker…I am very afraid of my house burning down. I have heard several stories of malfunctioning slow cooker that start on fire! And the whole idea, according to the people who use them, is that you can “cook” dinner while at work, not me! I have 2 dogs and 2 cats and lots of things that I love in my house and if the slow cooker was to go on fire I would never forgive myself. I love to cook and so I will. Without a slow cooker. (I do use it to keep mashed potatoes warm when we have a big crowd on the holidays).

  • stephanie
    January 9, 2019 10:56pm

    i have a crockpot, mine actually was my grandmother’s. (she’s still with us, she just passed it down to me.) it’s great, but i only use it for particular things. (and i don’t think one can blame a machine for cubes of pork not being thoroughly cooked over the course of three days (!) but that’s just like, my opinion, man.)

    anyway, the problem i have with newer crockpot/slow cooker recipes is that they defeat the point of the appliance in the first place. as you pointed out, many have you browning and cooking things separately, at which point you might as well just stick with that one vessel rather than dirty another one. (although as mentioned earlier i do use the slow cooker liners which are great – basically a big plastic bag you can just lift out and toss when you’re done cooking/eating, and all you have to do is clean the lid.) and sure, the slow cooker allows you to leave the house while it’s on, but that brings me to my second point with all these new recipes – they either have you adding ingredients along the way, and/or the cook time is only about six hours which isn’t long enough for anyone to go to work and come back or whatever. the best crockpot recipe is one where you put everything in all at once, and can leave it for several hours. (and of course, one that tastes amazing.)

    my favorite thing to make in mine is my mom’s beef stew :) i also just acquired a second smaller crockpot (my partner’s coworker won it at a casino and didn’t want it, lol) which is great as a warmer. wouldn’t have paid for it myself but something i’ve wanted for awhile and definitely comes in handy when it’s a grazing type meal you’re serving :)

  • Sami
    January 12, 2019 5:53am

    Yes. I agree, I love the process of cooking touching, probing, etc. But I do find value in a slow cooker. For stews, chilis, and the like.

  • January 12, 2019 5:52pm

    This is great. I love to slow cook but lack patience. And yes, not being able to lift the lid and see what’s going on drives me nuts. Glad I’m not along.

  • Suzanne
    January 13, 2019 4:48pm

    It should never take that long to cook anything in a slow cooker! My guess is you have one that’s a lemon. I have slow cookers in multiple sizes. They are useful for stews, parties, days that you want ‘x’ but need your stovetop & oven for other things. I go for months without touching them, then they are back in rotation. I love playing with gadgets (handy because I’m a test cook), & thank goodness for the space to store them. What I don’t have is an air fryer. They are just tiny little convection ovens, & I already have those. Now I need to hunt up that recipe, it sounds delicious!

  • Ashleigh
    January 13, 2019 5:43pm

    David, I’m a long time reader and a long time cook. Mostly a believer in the ‘old-fashioned’ way but not with regard to slow cookers. I bought one last year and now I use it often.

    First – it has rules and learning to use one is like learning to cook all over again and second – not every recipe or cuisine will translate well to the slow cooker.

    Some that do, in my experience, are Mexican and Indian cuisines, and all kinds of soups. For some reason I have had no success with wine based sauces, most French recipes or any dishes requiring reductions even though the slow cooker uses very little liquid (the liquid in the recipe needs to be reduced) and I’ve tried making red wine reductions etc before adding to the slow cooker. The flavor doesn’t seem to come through correctly.

    Often the slow cooker delivers the most surprisingly tasty results with the fewest ingredients.

    The type of slow cooker is important, based on the temperature it holds constant through the cooking process. I think you could explore and write a great book, given the right resources.

  • Brandon J. Li
    January 13, 2019 8:35pm

    Not knowing the size or brand of your slow cooker/Crockpot it is hard to say what went wrong but I suspect that yours has a defective thermostat or heating element. Also the quantity of the meat and other ingredients play a factor as well but after that much time it should have been way over-cooked if anything.

    The temp on the low setting should be about 200′ F (190′ f or higher is okay) and the high setting should be around 275′ to 300′ F. To test yours fill it half way with plain old tap water, put the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours. Then take the temperature of the water (in the middle is best) and if it isn’t at least 185′ F either throw it out or give it to someone that you really don’t like. ;-)

    When I (or we) are short on time we will make Carolina/Georgia Low Country style Pulled Pork in a slow cooker (instead of barbecuing it in our smokers) and have yet to have a problem. Usually a 4 to 5 pound pork shoulder per Crockpot is the size we use and it is done in about 10 to 12 hours. How tender is it ? Well it pretty much looks like spaghetti whether you use fingers or a couple of forks to get the job done. This also works the same for beef (usually Chuck), small turkeys and chicken as well.

    As for your Yogurt Maker throw it out to make room for a good 7 quart Crockpot as we use some of ours to make gallons of yogurt every single day (family has a dairy and egg farm but raise fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish too).

    BTW – Were you cooking a Caribbean style recipe (the ingredients reminded me of a few) ?

  • January 24, 2019 11:53am

    I do like slow cooking and use it to make “double boiled” chinese herbal soups, some stews, etc. Mostly, i use the high function and it comes out fine. Give it another go. Use it for any recipe that needs to go in the over for 3-4 hours. I also found that using a multicooker with buiilt in hot plate, I can now brown the meat, soften onions and slow cook all in one. So much less washing up!

  • Heather
    February 1, 2019 8:20pm

    I love using my slow cooker while I am working. On the weekends, however, I love to cook all kinds of great recipes I have found from you as well as other great chefs/cooks/people. :) Oh, loved your book and laughed my way through all your renovations…Glad things worked out.

  • Luciana
    February 4, 2019 12:23pm

    Aaaaargh! Why do we need so much stuff and what happened to good old cooking in a pot or pan? Nothing beats taking the lid off and tasting your food when you want to. Don’t have a slow cooker, don’t want one! Thanks for being honest about your experience.