Friday, January 30, 2015

What's Your Slow Cooker Doing Besides Cooking Slowly?

Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central, slow cooker cooking food recipes
Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central

Last year was a record year in slow cooker usage in my household.  It was also the year I went through two slow cookers.

The first slow cooker I'd had about a year and a half and midway through last year it died. There is nothing worse than coming home to a cold slow cooker and having to throw out the entire batch of food ... especially when it's lamb.

The second one lasted all of six months max.  Both were from the Crock Pot brand which I've never had problems with at all in the past. In fact, the one prior to the last two, I'd had for over 10 years.

But I have to confess ... secretly I was a little happy the slow cooker broke.  Why? I'd had my eye on two slow cookers in particular.

The All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker with non-stick cast-aluminum insert you could use on the stove top to brown foods before slow cooking. The fact that I had to move the insert to the stove top to brown was a turn-off for me. But the All-Clad brand made it a contender.

Or the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central, a combination cooking unit, which works as a slow cooker, a somewhat very deep electric "skillet" and a steamer. In the slow cooker function you can program it to cook at high, low, simmer or warm AND my favorite feature you can brown/sauté your food before slow cooking right in the slow cooker. Temperature can be set from 175 to 400 degrees.  The insert is non-stick, it's not as heavy as the conventional ceramic inserts, and best of all it's easy to clean.

After reading reviews, about the feature and the practicality of each appliance I decided on the Cuisinart. I put it on my Amazon wish list, crossing my fingers that someone might get it for me. And, of course, that someone turned out to be The Hub. It was one of my Christmas presents and boy did I do the happy dance when I saw it!

It is now over a month old and I've been using it 3 - 4 times a week. I can say that I made the right choice for me.

So far ...
  • I've used it as a slow cooker
  • I've used it to brown food before turning on the slow cooker function and it really browns nicely
  • I've used it to brown/sauté and simmer food that was ready in 30 minutes or less - told you it's like an old-school electric skillet  ... only better
  • I've steamed vegetables, fish and mussels
  • I've used it to heat up these two soups from a frozen state and it was faster than in the microwave, plus you can switch it to warm to keep your food warm till you are ready to eat
  • Mostly kept it out on the counter because I find I am using it as more than just a slow cooker
If you are in the market for a new slow cooker, you might want to consider the
Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central. For about $150 you get an appliance that has more than one use/function. That's a big plus in my book!

I want to make it clear, that I am not being paid or compensated in any way to write this post.  I just wanted to share my personal opinion and experience with this particular unit. I use both brands, Cuisinart and All-Clad, at home, no preference for either brand skewed my opinion.

NOTES: I was not able to link the All-Clad unit directly to All-Clad because they do not carry it nor show it on their site.

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