Cuisinart 4-Quart Cook Central 3-in-1 Multicooker
Voila! Meet the perfect contender in the newly emerging field of “multicookers”: slow cookers that can also brown, saute, and steam food. The
Cuisinart Multicooker can accommodate about half the quantity of food of its larger brethren and also has… wait for it… a programmable timer that can cook on high for up to 24-hours before automatically switching over to “keep warm.” According to Cook’s, everything (brown/saute/steam) works according to plan with the benefit of being able to sear food before cooking or reduce sauces afterward without mucking up another pot. Portable Crock Pots
Crock-Pot Lunch Crock Warmer
Okay, not sure why exactly we would give over cabinet space for a portable crock pot, unless all those Facebook postings about the evils of microwave ovens are true. However, if you find yourself in need of a little base and insert to carry and reheat food somewhere
with electricity yet not your home or using a microwave oven, this Crock-Pot Lunch Crock Warmer is apparently the best portable crock pot on offer, recommended “with reservations.”
Pros: It works. The crock pot heats quickly to 140 degrees and after a couple of hours hits a max of about 175 degrees and stays there until you shut it off. You can also leave the base at the office and just schlep the 20-ounce insert back and forth from home.
Cons: Since the lid can leak after multiple heating/cooling cycles and trips through the dishwasher, Cook’s recommends putting the insert into a zip-lock bag for transport.
Best Slow Cooker Tips and Tricks
Here are five slow cooker tips and tricks to ensure that your slow cooker meals are as fantastic for your health and palate as they are for your time management resolutions.
Fill your slow cooker to the right level to make sure you hit the timing in the recipe and to keep your food safe. Overfilling (over 2/3 full) can result in a slower-to-temp ramp, leaving your food (especially meat) in the dangerous “luke-warm” zone where bacteria are most comfortable and breed happily.
Pick your weapon: use the correct size. Most slow cooker recipes are created with a 5-6 quart slow cooker in mind. The key is to make sure that the vessel is neither under- nor over-filled (see gross bacteria warning above).
Use only thawed food and bring liquids to a simmer (microwave works great for this) before adding them to the pot to jump start the initial “heat up” process. Cut meat into pieces to make sure they don’t take too long (see icky bacteria insights above), or end up being undercooked entirely.
Glass lids help avoid the temptation to lift the lid and peek, letting precious heat and moisture escape. Don’t peek!
Invest in one of the new multicookers for maximizing flavor. There’s nothing like some toothsome carmelized bits from searing and sauteing right in the pan and then deglazing with whatever liquid you add, all without the added step (and mess) of using another pan, to amp the “wow” factor of your next easy-peasy culinary masterpiece.
For more slow cooker tips and tricks and for some KILLER slow cooker recipes, check out these top-rated slow cooker bibles from America’s Test Kitchen:
Slow Cooker Revolution
and the follow up volume:
Slow Cooker Revolution, The Easy Prep Edition
With recipes for everything from Chicken Soft Tacos to Poached Salmon and even Cheesecake, you may never pull out your frying pan again!
24-Hour Slow Cooker Vegetarian Boston Baked Beans
1 pound dried navy, soaked overnight
2 medium onions, grated
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
1 14.5 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons tamari or soya sauce
1/4 cup bourbon or rum
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked pepper
After soaking the beans overnight, drain them, cover with fresh water, and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Drain again. Whisk together all of the remaining ingredients and place in a slow cooker with the beans. Add water to
amply cover the beans.
Cover and cook on high until the beans are very soft, at least 12 hours, although on occasion I’ve left ours for 24 hours and they were fabulous. IMPORTANT: Check periodically and add more water to keep the beans from drying out until they’re soft enough to squish between your tongue and roof of your mouth. You’ll look long an hard to find a recipe that produces richer, browner, and more flavorful baked beans!
Small Cook’s Country: Small Slow Cookers, August 1, 2013
Cook’s Country: Slow Cookers, October 1, 2014