Over the years I’ve owned pressure cookers and slow cookers, and I like them just fine, but they always ended up in the garage. Unlike my coffee maker, they weren’t beloved enough to warrant precious counter space. And they’re bulky. I couldn’t justify the coveted kitchen cabinet space, home to my workhorse pots and pans, food processor, blender, toaster and mixers.
That’s how my pressure cooker and my slow cooker ended up on the garage shelf next to the waffle iron, ice cream freezer, fondue pot, and espresso machine. Then a few moves back the two cookers didn’t seem to make it onto the moving van. Why? Because there’s no other way to make waffles, espresso, and ice cream without special equipment, but I can slow and pressure cook in my reliable old GE oven. True, I can’t pressure cook quite as fast or slow cook quite as slow as the specialty appliances, but what I lose in time, I make up in quantity.
A couple of weeks ago, for example, I made pulled pork for my holiday housefull. I could have barely fit a 3-pound pork shoulder in the average slow cooker, but I overnight slow-cooked a 9-pounder (and could have doubled that) in my 250-degree oven.
People swear by slow cookers and pressure cookers for stews. High and fast or slow and low—either technique works. But I offer both methods, which require only a pot and an oven. And unlike with a pressure- or slow-cooker, you can switch to a heavy-duty roasting pan and double the recipe.
In a meal that you will all surely be hearing more about next week (it was THAT good), my boyfriend and I made smoky, coffee-braised pulled pork tacos for the family–among many other things.
We used the oven-pressure cooker method and the meat turned out perfectly! The juices were thick and flavorful, the pork pulled apart with a fork (though it hardly needed that), and it was done in an hour and a half.
A bit of a purist when it comes to cooking, Anthony was a little skeptical of the whole pseudo-pressure cooker thing. Fair enough. But when the meat came out after 90 minutes–juicy, tender, and ridiculously delicious, I think he was converted. And if he tries to deny it, I have hard evidence…he’s eaten the leftovers for every meal (except one) since we made it 🙂
Thank God (and Granny and Papa) I got a Le Creuset for Christmas! There is SO much beef (and lamb and pork) stew in my future!!
Needless to say, the Anderson/Keets love this method of cooking. Last winter, it seemed I was making stews every week. I love the versatility and freezability of stew, and of course it’s perfect food for a chilly, Winter’s night. To ease the pain of returning from Malawi, the land of eternal sunshine, I ordered lamb stew for my first meal back. I did momentarily forget the six inches of old, dirty snow outside and the 13 degree temperatures.
I love the idea of a slow cooker or a crock pot – the idea of dinner cooking while I’m off doing other things (whether at the movies or at work!) but this method works just fine for me. Having lived in the UK for the last several years in our little bungelow for two, I hardly had the full-time counter space for a toaster let alone a whole other piece of equipment. And of course, this method simply works. I know there are a lot of people out there, dear friends included, who absolutely live for their crock pot. But just try this method and see how it measures up. You might find it comes in handy some time.
I’ve never had a pressure cooker and I’ve lost my slow cooker (can’t blame it on a move, we’ve been in the same house for 15 years). I love oven braising, so I don’t miss that old crock-pot. I use a hand-me-down enameled cast iron Dutch oven and the convection feature on the oven for beef stew, pot roast and chicken braises.
Crock pots are great, but they just don’t slow cook like the conventional oven especially when you want to bake a lot of meat for multiple meals. Looking forward to trying your beef stew!
thanks for the tipsmore tips here
I’m sure Maggy was thinking of me with her comment. I use my slow cooker at least once a week. Maybe it’s my silly superstitions of gas (I grew up with electric, and now we have gas stove AND oven), but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable slow cooking in my gas oven unless I were in the kitchen all day babysitting it. And I wouldn’t dream of leaving it on overnight. Visions of carbon monoxide poisoning would surely dance through my head.
I do love my slow cooker, but I fully recognize their limitations. I prefer using mine for soups, stews, and pulled meats, and that’s pretty much where I stop with it. Like I was telling Maggy the other day, the thing I love about my slow cooker is that I can throw all the ingredients into it, without any sort of pomp and circumstance, and walk away. 8 hours later, dinner is always incredible.
Britni Navarre says
Thanks so much for such a post. I especially loved reading it and ought to share it with my boss.