Tag Archives: slow cooker

 

How does my slow cooker work? At what temperature does my slow cooker cook? How do I convert my favorite recipe to the slow cooker? How much energy does my slow cooker use? These are just a few of the many questions our experts manning the phones receive regularly about slow cooking. This post will tell you what a slow cooker is, how it works and what you can do with it to make cooking at home simple, convenient and delicious.

What is a slow cooker?

A slow cooker allows unattended home cooking for long periods of time at relatively low cooking temperatures. It’s made up of three main components: the base (this contains the heating element which is attached to a liner), the vessel and the lid. The base of the slow cooker is the part you see the most. It has handles, a temperature knob or control panel, and feet that keep it slightly raised off the surface of your counter. The liner is a thin metal insert melded onto the inside of the slow cooker base. You can’t see or access the electrical workings between the liner and the base, but this houses heater bands that conduct heat around the bottom of the slow cooker. The bands create heat that transfers to the cooking vessel and rises across the the bottom and up the sides, uniformly cooking your food. There is a small gap between the liner and the outer wrap of the base for airflow, which keeps the outside from overheating.

Slow Cooker 101: How a Slow Cooker Works from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

The cooking vessel is where you put the food you cook. It’s usually made from heavy stoneware, which helps keep the heat constant, stabilized and evenly distributed. Some slow cookers have clips to hold the lid in place for easy, no-spill traveling. The lid is important because you can’t reach the appropriate cooking temperatures without it. Imagine trying to bring pasta water to a boil with a lid and then without it. The lid to your slow cooker works the same way.

Some slow cookers have steam vent holes in their lids; the Set & Forget® Programmable Slow Cooker has a probe hole. If you’re not inserting the probe for use in PROBE mode, leave the hole open and don’t plug it up. Vent holes allow steam to escape and the wattage of the unit has been adjusted to compensate for any heat loss.

How Does My Slow Cooker Work?

Cooking with a slow cooker is most similar to cooking with a Dutch oven on a stovetop. On a stovetop, a pot is heated from the bottom and the heat rises up the sides of the pot to heat the food within. Similarly, a slow cooker creates heat toward the base, which transfers up the sides of the vessel to heat the food within. In addition, setting the temperature for both cooking methods is very similar. Instead of cooking something at a specific temperature on the stovetop, you set the temperature to low or high. Your slow cooker works in the same manner.

Slow Cooker 101: How a Slow Cooker Works from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

When you set the temperature to low on your slow cooker, your heating element will put out less heat. When you set the temperature to high, the heating element will put out more heat. Cooking something on low takes more time than cooking something on high. Because the temperature settings work most like stovetop cooking, it is hard to give an actual temperature for the various heat levels.

How Do I Convert a Stovetop or Oven Recipe to the Slow Cooker?

Slow cooking is relatively forgiving and is adaptable to a wide variety of recipes. Slow cookers use low cooking temperatures and retain moisture during the cooking process. If your recipe calls for using the oven to dry food, it probably won’t work in the slow cooker. Likewise, if your recipe calls for very high temperatures of oil to fry things quickly, a slow cooker will not be an option. However, if your recipe calls for cooking something “low and slow,” the slow cooker will work excellently.

Slow Cooker 101: How a Slow Cooker Works from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

Many recipes for sauces and dips call for cooking on the slow cooker’s HIGH setting or for only 1-2 hours. Long cooking times of 6-7+ hours or using the LOW setting is best for roasts and large or tough cuts of meat, like a pulled pork shoulder. The majority of slow cooker-friendly recipes can be adapted to cook somewhere in the middle; stews and soups fall into this category.

You can convert your favorite recipes to slow cooker recipes if you learn these important differences first:

  • Liquids do not evaporate in a slow cooker. Unless you are cooking rice, pasta, or beans, reduce the amount of liquid to about half the amount called for in your recipe.
  • Fresh vegetables produce the most desirable results. Potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic should be washed and cut in uniform pieces, then placed in the bottom of the crock. Canned and frozen vegetables take less time to cook and can result in overcooked dishes.
  • Ground beef should be browned and drained before slow cooking to remove grease.
  • Tender foods such as pasta, squash, asparagus or peas should be added in the last hour of cooking.
  • Seafood such as shrimp, scallops and fish should be added in the last 15-30 minutes of cooking.
  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk and sour cream should be added at the end of cooking.

Is My Slow Cooker Energy Efficient?

We like to say slow cooking is energy efficient for you AND your home. Slow cooking gives you the ability to cook while you are away, saving you time and energy. It’s great to have a home-cooked meal ready for your family when you arrive home from work, isn’t it?

Slow Cooker 101: How a Slow Cooker Works from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

The slow cooker is not just efficient for you, it’s efficient for your home. A small slow cooker uses approximately the same power as one and a half 100 watt light bulbs. Because it cooks with contained heat, it uses less energy. And since it’s an appliance that’s intended to be used unattended, there’s no need to worry about it while you’re gone.

Research Hamilton Beach Slow Cookers here.

Find Everyday Good Thinking slow cooker recipes and tips here.

Find Hamilton Beach slow cooker recipes here.

We hope this helped answer some of your questions about slow cooking. What others do you have? Leave your follow-up questions and comments in the “Comments” section below.



Slow Cooker Bananas Foster Bread Pudding from Everyday Good Thinking @hamiltonbeach

Realizing you can make delicious desserts in the slow cooker has to be one of my favorite discoveries. If you think low and slow moist heat is only good for soups and stews, there’s a whole new world for you to discover. This world contains some of the best sweet treats you can find, like this bread pudding with a twist.

It tastes like the moistest banana bread you’ve ever had, and it’s perfect served as breakfast, dessert or a brunch side dish. It would be an impressive contribution to a potluck, and best of all, it’s incredibly easy to make.

Slow Cooker Bananas Foster Bread Pudding from Everyday Good Thinking @hamiltonbeach

The “hard sauce” served on the side is like a cross between frosting and glaze. The sweet cinnamon flavor adds a lot to the bread pudding, like the glaze on top of a cinnamon roll. The banana flavor is fantastic, but you could substitute any other mashable fruit, like fresh berries, cooked apples or stone fruit.

Slow Cooker Bananas Foster Bread Pudding from Everyday Good Thinking @hamiltonbeach


Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Hard Sauce
SERVES: 12

Bread Pudding
3 medium very ripe bananas
8 large eggs
3 cups milk
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 (20 oz.) French bread loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
Cinnamon Hard Sauce
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons light rum or milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
To make the Bread Pudding
Puree bananas and eggs in food processor bowl.
Spray slow cooker crock with cooking spray and place in slow cooker base.
Pour banana mixture into crock. Stir in milk, brown sugar, vanilla and 2 teaspoons cinnamon until well blended.
Fold in bread cubes until bread is coated.
Cover and cook on HIGH 2 1/2 to 3 hours or LOW 5 1/2 to 6 hours.
Serve with Cinnamon Hard Sauce.
To make Cinnamon Hard Sauce
Using a stand mixer, beat butter in small bowl until creamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, rum, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and salt until smooth and well blended.
Notes
Any leftover Cinnamon Hard Sauce would be great over pancakes, waffles, or French toast. If serving without Cinnamon Hard Sauce, sprinkle with a mixture of 1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Heritage Dish: Kenyan Chicken Curry and Pilau Rice from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

In Kenyan culture, there are many different indigenous people with a variety of ethnic traditions. Kenya has had a long-standing relationship with foreign settlers for decades. This makes the food quite exciting as we draw our cooking methods, flavors and presentations from different regions, most commonly Arabic and Indian influences.

Heritage Dish: Kenyan Chicken Curry and Pilau Rice from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

While nearly all Kenyan tribes have their own staple foods, there are certain meals that continue to be present at every function, no matter the tribe. Growing up, it was not a gathering unless there was pilau, chapati and some kind of curry. These foods bring all tribal cultures together.

It was no different in our household. My siblings and I lived for those special occasions when we had guests, because we knew that we could have all three dishes as part of the same meal.

Perfecting the art of making these foods took me a long time. My sisters and I started out as helpers in the kitchen. As young girls, we were allowed to crush ginger and garlic using the pestle and mortar. (Today, I use a chopper, but the taste is definitely not the same. Mom always said the flavors are well drawn out when you crush ginger or garlic instead of chopping them.) Then, we learned to use knives safely and could peel potatoes and cube meat. By the time we were teenagers, we were able to cook the meal perfectly and let mom enjoy her guests without worries about what was going on in the kitchen.

Heritage Dish: Kenyan Chicken Curry and Pilau Rice from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

Pilau is a rice dish that sometimes had beef in it. Whether we made it with or without meat, there were a couple of secrets mom and the neighborhood women taught us if we wanted the perfect Pilau rice that didn’t stick together. “If it sticks together, people will be able to tell an amateur cook made it,” Mom would say. The first secret was to make sure the rice was well coated with olive oil before adding the water. The second was to let most of the water absorb into the rice, and then introduce low heat both above and below the pot.  Traditionally, that means using a Jiko and taking half of the hot coals to put on top of the cooking pot lid, which would then provide the heat from above. In modern day, we use convection baking or a rice cooker to allow uniform absorption of the liquid into the rice.

Heritage Dish: Kenyan Chicken Curry and Pilau Rice from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

 

Heritage Dish: Kenyan Chicken Curry and Pilau Rice from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

While my family always preferred chicken curry (mainly because the Pilau rice often had beef in it), variations include beef, lamb, fish, beans or eggplant. The key to curry is to let it simmer slowly so all the flavors are assimilated into the dish. You should not be able to taste the ginger, the garlic, or the spices distinctly. Rather, they should marry to create the curry flavor.

To this day, I make pilau, chicken curry and chapati when I have guests. If there are vegetarians in the group, I substitute the chicken for beans or eggplant, and it’s still delicious. These dishes will always be a major part of entertainment for me, thanks to my Kenyan heritage.

Heritage Dish: Kenyan Chicken Curry and Pilau Rice from Everyday Good Thinking, the official blog of @hamiltonbeach

 


Kenyan Chicken Curry
SERVES: 6

Ingredients
3 garlic cloves
2 oz. fresh ginger
1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 small red potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1 cup coconut milk
1 chili cube
1 Tablespoon curry paste
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
Instructions
Place garlic and ginger in pestle; press with mortar to make a paste. Add to slow cooker crock.
Stir remaining ingredients into paste until well blended.
Cover and cook on HIGH 2 1/2-3 hours or LOW 4 1/2-5 hours.
Serve with Pilau Rice.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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33567The Stovetop-Safe Programmable Slow Cooker makes preparing a delicious family dinner easy. For starters, it comes with die-cast aluminum cookware that goes right onto the stove top for easy browning and sautéing. After that, creating a flavorful meal ahead of time is a simple matter of adding the other ingredients and setting the time and temperature.

 


Pilau Rice
SERVES: 6

Ingredients
1 ½ cups Basmati rice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons Pulao masala
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
Place rice in rice cooker pot. Stir in olive oil to coat.
Add garlic, ginger, masala, cumin, turmeric and salt. Stir until well blended.
Add 4 cups water to cooking pot.
Cover and cook. Serve with Chicken Curry.
Notes
If using the plastic rice measurer included with the Digital Simplicity™ Rice Cooker and Food Steamer, 2 measures of rice will equal 1 ½ cups. When adding water, fill to the 2-line mark inside the pot.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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37536The Digital Simplicity™ Rice Cooker and Food Steamer cooks perfect rice every time, but it does much more than that. Besides preparing all varieties of white and brown rice, the Digital Simplicity™ Rice Cooker steams food to perfection and cooks prepackaged pasta & rice mixes as well as nutritious, flavorful beans.



Easy Slow Cooker Asian Beef Sandwich @hamiltonbeach

I love recipes that can be used in many different ways, and this simple Asian-style beef is no exception. Just add all the ingredients to the slow cooker, no marinating or pre-browning required. It cooks for a few hours while I’m off doing fun summer things, like going to the pool or taking a walk in the park with my dog. When I get home, I’m usually pretty hungry and want to fix up something tasty but quick. It’s easy to toss some juicy beef onto a roll with fresh veggies like radishes, carrots and herbs for a unique summer lunch. Leftovers can be served over rice and broccoli for a quick and healthy one-dish dinner. I might even put the beef in an Asian-inspired taco or lettuce wraps – there are a ton of ways to use this recipe, so it’s okay to be creative.

Easy Slow Cooker Asian Beef Sandwich @hamiltonbeach

 


Asian Beef Roast
SERVES: 6

Ingredients
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 pound sirloin tip roast, trimmed
6 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions
Place roast in slow cooker crock.
Stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Pour over roast.
Cover and cook on HIGH 2 to 2 1/2 hours or LOW 4 to 5 hours.
Remove roast from crock and thinly slice. Return beef to crock and toss with sauce mixture. Let stand 10 minutes.
Notes
Sliced cucumbers, carrots, radishes, cabbage and herbs can be added to create an Asian beef sandwich. The beef roast is also great served au jus over steamed broccoli and rice.
Everyday Good Thinking http://everydaygoodthinking.com/

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Mother's Day Gift Guide from Everyday Good Thinking @hamiltonbeach

For “one-pot” simplicity, nothing beats slow cooking. But when it comes to bringing hot meals to parties and potlucks, spills can be a concern. With the travel-friendly Set & Forget® Slow Cooker, messes aren’t an issue.



Don’t put away your slow cooker now that summer is here. Slow cooking is a great way to prepare homemade meals for your family without having to stand over the hot stove all day. These hand-picked recipes are perfect for summer suppers and highlight our favorite flavors of the season.

Spicy Barbecue Sauce from @hamiltonbeach everydaygoodthinking.com #BBQ

Spicy Barbecue Sauce

Lemon Triple Berry Cobbler

Lemon Triple Berry Cobbler 

Corn on the Cob

 Corn on the Cob

Slow Cooker Greek Gyro from Everyday Good Thinking | @HamiltonBeach

Greek Gyros

Slow Cooker Baked Beans @hamiltonbeach everydaygoodthinking.com

Baked Beans

Slow cooker chipotle turkey barbecue #bbq @hamiltonbeach everydaygoodthinking.com

Chipotle Turkey Barbecue

Slow cooker North Carolina style pulled pork bbq barbecue @hamiltonbeach everydaygoodthinking.com

 North Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue 

Vegetable Ragout from Everyday Good Thinking | @HamiltonBeach

Vegetable Ragout

pork-carnitas-3

Pork Carnitas Tacos

Slow cooker flank steak fajitas @hamiltonbeach

Flank Steak Fajitas

Intellitime Slow Cooker from @hamiltonbeach

Hamilton Beach® Slow Cookers take the convenience of slow-cooked dishes a giant step further. Several models of slow cookers, such as the Stay or Go® Slow Cooker, address one of your greatest concerns—getting your finished dish to a potluck or party without messy spills.