Cookbook Review: Slow Cooker Revolution

Cookbook Review: Slow Cooker Revolution

I recently read that nearly 40% of American households use their slow cooker at least once a week. But in households in most U.S. cities? I suspect it's not so much.

Why so? First, slow cookers, or "Crock Pots" as many of us know them, are slightly hulking appliances and take up precious space in our small city kitchens. And second, cooking in a slow cooker takes a bit of planning and commitment: you can't change your evening plans at the last minute and head out to dinner with friends if you need to rescue that pot of chicken gumbo that's been simmering for 8 hours.

But if you're one of those who either never tried slow cooker cooking, or have one stashed in your basement storage space where it's collected dust instead of being put to good use, or maybe you've tasted one too many slow cooker-made meals and consider them all mediocre -- it's time to reconsider.

That's because of a splendid new cookbook from the folks at America's Test Kitchen. Slow Cooker Revolution (By The Editors at America's Test Kitchen, paperback with color photographs, $26.95) is their manifesto for how to use this countertop appliance to create big flavors for dishes that range from breakfast to main courses to tasty sides to desserts. This book just may convince you to give up precious kitchen space to make room for a cooker.

If there's anyone who can figure out how to get maximum flavor and productivity out of a piece of cookware, it's the team that brings us America's Test Kitchen as well as Cook's Illustrated Magazine, America's Test Kitchen radio, Cook's Country television and magazine, and various other enterprises, including many, many cookbooks. Their prolific output is rather dizzying; sort of like the Joyce Carol Oates of cooking content.

Why This Book Is Useful. And Different.


The Recipes

The book has 14 chapters. The first is "Slow Cooker 101," full of handy tips for buying and using a slow cooker. Then there are 13 chapters with recipes:


A few last comments about why I think a slow cooker is worth making room for in our small city kitchens:

I've said this before but I think it merits repeating how a slow cooker gives you a fifth burner for your stove. Making Thanksgiving dinner and need to keep the soup hot while you finish the meal? A slow cooker is a handy solution; you can even warm the dinner rolls in a slow cooker plugged in and sitting in the living room.

While you can certainly slow cook with a stove, doing so will also heat your entire kitchen. But a slow cooker is far less invasive and thus a good choice to use during warmer weather. Moreover, a slow cooker is usually more energy efficient than keeping our stoves or ovens on for hours at a time.

A slow cooker is not the way to cook everything, but it can be a trusted addition to how we make satisfying meals.

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CookbooksSlow CookerAmerica's Test Kitchen

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