Is there anything better than the smell of a roast cooking all day long in a slow cooker? Of course, having to smell the roast all day long can make you hungry the whole day. But the final product is worth the wait, isn't it?
Many kids are used to fast food. When you're in a hurry and on the run, the solution for a quick meal is often to hit a drive-through for a burger served up hot and fast. The slow cooker, though, is sort of the opposite of fast food.
Unlike quickly fried burgers or deep-fried chicken nuggets, foods cooked in a slow cooker are cooked slowly, usually for many hours. In a world that places such a high value on speed and efficiency, how did the slow cooker earn its spot on the kitchen counter?
Slow cooking is a method that's been around since the beginning of time. Ancient peoples learned that cooking tough meats and root vegetables for long periods of time would soften them and make them easier to eat.
The slow cooker popular in kitchens all around the world — sometimes called by a brand name such as Crock-Pot® or Slo-Cooker® — is a more recent invention, though. The first version of a slow cooker was a bean cooker called the Beanery that was developed by the Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago.
In 1970, the Rival Company bought Naxon and revised the Beanery into the Crock-Pot® slow cooker. In 1974, Rival redesigned their slow cooker to feature a removable stoneware insert. This allowed food to be stored conveniently and made cleaning up very easy.
Today, slow cookers are a favorite of cooks everywhere. They now come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with advanced features, such as multiple heat settings and timers.
Slow cookers work by simmering food. This means that foods are cooked at lower temperatures than other popular cooking methods, such as frying or baking. It also means that foods must be cooked for many hours, rather than just a few minutes.
Unlike other cooking methods, though, slow cooking doesn't require a lot of supervision. Once you've prepared your ingredients, put them in the slow cooker and set the time and temperature, you can leave the slow cooker to do its work on its own, only checking in occasionally to keep an eye on its progress.
The low, steady temperature of a slow cooker allows foods to be cooked evenly for a long period of time. The fats and connective tissues in tough meats are broken down over time, making them more tender. The juices of the various ingredients mix together to form WONDERful new flavors.
You're probably familiar with certain popular slow cooker dishes, such as roasts and stews. However, slow cookers can cook more than just these favorites. Would you believe that slow cookers can be used to make pasta dishes, casseroles and even delicious desserts? It's true!