How many of you enjoy cooking? Is it more of a chore, or is it fun for you?
More often than not, I run into people who don’t enjoy cooking because they don’t know what they’re doing and don’t know where to start. One of my first questions is, “Do you have a slow cooker?” Most of the time they say no, or say that they do have one but they never use it.
The slow cooker is one of the best small appliances you can buy, whether you’re an experienced chef or a beginner home cook. Why? It’s versatile, cheap (as little as $10), and easy to use. On top of all that, if you’re like most people who have a full-time job, the slow cooker is cooking your dinner while you’re away.
Imagine coming through your front door after a long day of work or school and the smell of a beef roast or spaghetti sauce fills your nostrils. To me, that’s the smell of home–the smell of comfort. Whether you’re a full-time worker, full-time student, or full-time mom/dad, a slow cooker should be on your list of must-have appliances.
Beginner Slow Cooker Recipe
If you have zero experience with cooking and want a beginners slow cooker recipe, here is the simplest recipe ever. There are about 100 things you could do to make this better, but this is the bare bones instructions:
- Buy a pork loin, Boston butt, or other big, semi-fatty piece of meat. (Not chicken breasts)
- Put it in the slow cooker (you may need to cut it to fit, freeze the rest, and/or cut into hunks or cubes)
- Slice up a few onions (and a few cloves of garlic if you have it) and put on top
- Put in a generous pinch of salt and a little less pepper (and your own favorite herbs if you want to)
- Pour in enough stock (beef, vegetable, or chicken) or just water if that’s all you have, to cover the meat–usually about 3/4 of the way full or so
- Turn it on (Low, medium, or high? If you’re going to be gone all day at work, do low. If you want it done in 3-4 hours, do high)
- Come back in 5-9 hours and eat it
More Slow Cooker Recipes
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Roasted Red Potatoes & Corn on the Cob – $2.22
- Crock Pot Beef Roast with Red Wine Onion Gravy over Rice – $1.48
- Classic Tomato Sauce (AKA Italian Gravy) – $.51
- Braised Short Ribs over Mashed Red Potatoes – $2.42
- Slow Cooked Boston Butt (2 Ways: Cuban Style & “Homestyle”) – $1.21
- Pumpkin Apple Butter Recipe
- Slow Cooked Pork over Quinoa – $2.05
Types of Slow Cookers
There are different types of slow cookers/crock pots, ranging in price and capabilities. Here are few different types and benefits and drawbacks to each.
This is the kind that my grandmother uses, my mom uses, and I use. My personal favorite, and here’s why:
- The top pot is non-stick and detachable so you can sear meats on the stove or place it in the oven
- The base is actually a non-stick griddle so if you’re a college student or someone who doesn’t have a lot of room for pots and pans, you can use this (for some things) instead of a skillet
- After cooking, you can store your food in the refrigerator right in the container you cook it in
- Usually rectangular in shape so if you’re big into roasts, this may be a better option
- A little more expensive (but totally worth it if you can afford it)
- If your budget is super tight, you can start here. These are usually less expensive
- Easier to find electronically programable styles (which are more expensive)
- With the more expensive, programable styles, you have more control with when start and stop cooking. You can also program your cooker, via a probe thermometer, to stop cooking once the meat hits your preferred degree. That. is. awesome.
- You can’t use the removable container on the stove or in the oven to sear the food first. You’d need to use another pan to sear it (or not) and dump it into the slow cooker
- The cheaper models, which are usually round, aren’t too conducive to large, rectangular roasts