By Anna Carey
The slow-cooker is well-known as a fantastic way to have an easy, hot meal ready as soon as you arrive home from your daily routine, but this kitchen superhero also has a bit of a reputation for turning out a particular kind of food. Our parents’ slow cooker recipes were often based around large cuts of meat and soup preparations, ready to deliver to potluck dinners, and these ideas have been common since the first CrockPots came onto the market in the early 1970s. Those of us who prefer more complex flavors, fresh ingredients, and varied cuisine options have often been a bit critical of slow cookers for this reason.
Recently, though, there’s been a resurgence of interest in slow cookers for the convenience they offer to those who struggle to find time to put together hot, nutritious meals for themselves or their families at the end of long days, and I for one have been pulled in! Along with this renewed interest, a new round of recipes have emerged, and if you’ve been out of the slow-cooker loop for the last few years, some of them might surprise you.
For example, did you know you can make both desserts and bread in your slow cooker? As the temperatures rise, the idea of turning on the oven might not be especially appealing, and the slow cooker can help. From apple crumble to chocolate cake, the slow cooker can sub in for your oven when you just can’t stand the idea of heating up your home. And while you won’t get a crusty, brown artisan loaf from your slow cooker due to the lower temperature, there are some really excellent no-knead recipes for soft sandwich bread that turn out beautifully in slow cookers of all sizes.
Slow cookers are also great for a wide variety of meals that require long, slow cooking to turn out flavorful, tender meat. Pulled pork or shredded chicken tacos make a quick weeknight meal when all you need to do is prep your toppings before serving. Similarly, many Indian dishes benefit from the slow cooker’s long, low-temperature cooking method.
If you’ve never tried a slow cooker, haven’t had a chance to try one out lately, or just don’t have the space for one, The Kitchen Library has you covered!