Sometimes, one wonders how one survived before one had inherited, bought, borrowed or stole a crock-pot or slow cooker.
But seriously, they are the best of inventions. Ten minutes of prep work and 4+ hours of cooking for voila! — dinner is done. Crock-pots make cuts that need slow cooking more palatable, develop flavours that otherwise take hours of supervised simmering on the stove, and mean that dinner practically cooks itself while you’re at work, at home or at the gym. A crock-pot can make a teeny meal for one, or a huge batch of slow cooked deliciousness for weeks of meals.
But why, oh why, are many of the recipes inclusive of tinned tomatoes, a jar of passata, three tomatoes chopped or tomato paste? What if you’re a bit done with tomato-flavours? What if it gives you heinous heartburn, or you have a family member who can’t have them? What other options do you have for an amazing delicious crock-pot meal that is not tomato-based?
You can use your crock-pot like a camp oven or mini-oven and cook a bread, damper, scone or flatbread while something else is simmering or the bbq is cooking. Kids especially like to be able to watch the bread grow and cook – just don’t remove the lid as the crock-pot relies on hot air in the crock-pot to keep the temperature up to a safe, baking temperature.
Nothing is as delicious as a slow-cooked soup or stew as the flavours are particularly well-developed and almost sweetly roasted. Set the vegetables to roast for the day, then add stock and simmer for an hour before using a stick-blender to smooth it out. Or add a handful of pearl barley or brown rice and have more of a stew-like soup.