Slow cookers. The 1970’s retro kitchen appliance that has come back in vogue over the last few years has its advantages-they’re convenient, save you money, and definitely save you a ton of time in the kitchen. Slow cooker meals are easy – just toss in a few ingredients, ignore the slow cooker all day, and dinner is miraculously ready with ZERO effort! They have become increasingly popular among busy parents and professionals alike who just can’t fathom coming home from a long day of work, cognizant of the fact that they have to put in more time and energy (that they usually do not have!) to prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal.
Despite the arguable pros, I have a culinary confession to make; I hate slow cookers. They’re high maintenance kitchen appliances that sell themselves for being low maintenance. My sentiments are a result of me having tried time and time again to make slow cookers my new best friend, but always to no avail.
When a work colleague offered to pass her used slow cooker over to me a few years ago, ‘ll be honest, the prospect of preparing an entire meal, (corrected; possibly a week’s worth of meals) had my truly excited. More time for the kids, more time for the gym, and more time for just relaxing on the couch, as opposed to spending hours in the kitchen. Well, that excitement went out the window pretty quickly. The first recipe I tried was pulled pork-albeit the meat was juicy and tender, the sauce was watery and I had to add more BBQ sauce after cooking it to add more flavour. The second recipe I made were meatballs in tomato sauce. The meatballs tasted like boiled meat, not full of flavour like they usually are, and they sat in a divided bath of tomato sauce and greasy oil.
So, there’s my plea! Before you judge me, before you assume I’m that a home-chef snob, let me justify my reasons for dissing one of North Americans most prized kitchen appliance.
Here are 5 reasons why I dislike slow cookers:
1. They’re predictable
In their defence, slow cookers are perfect for transforming cheaper cuts of meat, such as chicken thighs and pork belly into more flavourful dishes. On the down side, slow cooker meals allow no room for interpretation. Follow the recipe otherwise suffer the consequences, for example, uncooked meat, overcooked pasta or rice, or just a watery mush.
2. They don’t save you as much time as you think
If I could buy a slow cooker that also chopped and seasoned the food all on its own, then I’d have a huge stash of them for every meal of the day. But they don’t. If you’re preparing a stew, you still to need chop all of the vegetables before adding them to the pot, and unless you don’t care much about flavour, you need to check in every now and again to taste and adjust the seasoning. Seasoning at the last minute pales in comparison to what seasoning throughout the entire cooking process does for a meal.
3. They produce flavourless meals
For someone who is used to (and also truly enjoys) tasting as I go, slow cookers don’t allow you taste each component of your meal. Throwing all the ingredients into one pot means you miss out on the entire tasting and seasoning process while you cook your food (and enjoy a post-work glass of wine while you’re at it). Aside from a few staples, most meals (at least the ones I’ve made) turn out one-noted-a big melting pot of indistinct flavours. Plus, to make many slow cooker recipes perform to the best of their ability, there are usually additional steps involved, like browning or caramelizing ingredients on the stovetop before adding them to slow cooker.
4. Results are visually unappealing
Let’s admit it-we eat with our eyes first, right? And let’s be even more honest. Slow cooker meals NEVER look as beautiful as their made-with-care counterparts. I’ll admit, I might be a bit biased since I’m a food blogger who spends a ton of time making recipes look appealing for my food photography. Having said that, in terms of presentation, there’s no doubt in my mind that one would chose a slow cooker meal over their counterpart.
5. They’re a pain to clean
Especially if you have a small sink like mine! They’re not dishwasher-friendly, (unless YOU have a huge dishwasher) and you have to wait HOURS for them to cool down, which means that you can’t lay on the couch all night, content in the fact that there will be NO dishes to wash the following morning.
Still not convinced? If slow cooker recipes are for you, then allow me to share some top slow cooker recipes that you might enjoy!