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Discussion Starter #1
Our slow cooker has died. Anybody buy a slow cooker in the last several years and can recommend a good one?

A quick search on amazon turns up these.

http://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beac...00EZI26DW/ref=psdc62_t2_B004P2NG0K_B00EZI26DW

http://www.amazon.com/Crock-Pot-SCC...004P2NG0K/ref=psdc62_t2_B00EZI26DW_B004P2NG0K

http://www.amazon.com/Crock-Pot-SCC...007K9OI52/ref=psdc62_t3_B004P2NG0K_B007K9OI52

Some of these have a probe that gets inserted through a hole in the lid and into the meat, or into the liquid I suppose. Do you find this to be a worthwhile feature?

What do you like and dislike about your current slow cooker?

Thanks
 
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My ancient slow cooker has a removable crock... I would not trade that for the WORRRRRLD! LOL! I had a hard time finding one for my daughter when she left for college.
 

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Here is the list from Amazon of high review slow cookers. You might get some ideas there. http://smile.amazon.com/gp/top-rated/home-garden/289940/ref=zg_tr_nav_hg_3_289913

I don't actually use a slow cooker that much. In the winter I use the wood stove and in the summer I do use an electric pressure cooker quite a bit (actually the top rated one there on that list).

About the temperature probe, you know what kind of cook you are, and if you would think the thermometer is a good idea, you'd probably use it. If you have to question it, it's probably something you wouldn't use, IMO. Lots of times the simple manual cookers are probably the best. I do love my electric pressure cooker because I can cook quite small amounts of meat and it's done really fast. They are great for bone broth and I use it for that a lot.
 

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I have the second slow cooker you have a link to. I am very happy with it - it was a gift for Christmas last year. I don't think I would use the probe if it had one but everybody's different in how they cook. I really love that the crocks are removable. I still have one I got 27 years ago for my wedding without the removable crock and it was always a bit of a pain to clean. I LOVE cooking in a slow cooker being able to put everything in and forgetting it until dinner time and everything comes out so moist and tender!
 

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I have a large oval Cook & Carry with the lock down lid, and removable crock.
Love it.
Don't think I would use a temp probe.
It has the manual knob. While I would like to have temp control, I don't *think* the electronic ones come back after a power outage? One I had before didn't.
 

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I have three of them, small, medium and large. All three have the crock that removes from the bases. Personally, I wouldn't use a probe, but to each their own.

BTW, crock pot liners are available at the grocery stores and they are a blessing. My DH holds them up over a measuring sup and slits the corner and drains the bits of broth out easily.

Another way to clean them is to fill them with soapy water and cook it on low all night.
 

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I have the first crockpot listed in the OP post.

LOVE LOVE LOVE that crockpot! Had it for years.

Oval shape IMO fits meat so much better. Removable crock is great for clean up. The lid clamps down which is great for transporting.
 

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I think I have this one? http://www.amazon.com/Crock-Pot-SCV...r_1_3?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1412171891&sr=1-3

Basic. Plug in, has keep warm, low and high. That's it. No timer. I love it. If I ever *need* a timer function I use a separate timer, like the ones you set for house lights when you travel.

I'm not that busy that I needed that extra feature and imvho it's just another part to possibly break.

And ditto on the removable crock. A MUST!!
 

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I just bought a bigger one so that I could do whole chickens in the summer without heating up the kitchen.

I went with simple, because simple is better.

Removeable ceramic crock.
NO programmable stuff, because that is the weak point and it that stops, it's useless.
Just an on/off, high, low and warm setting knob.
Should last for 20 years like my smaller one has.
Smaller one still works great, just can't stuff a chicken into it.
 

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I just bought a bigger one so that I could do whole chickens in the summer without heating up the kitchen.

I went with simple, because simple is better.

Removeable ceramic crock.
NO programmable stuff, because that is the weak point and it that stops, it's useless.
Just an on/off, high, low and warm setting knob.
Should last for 20 years like my smaller one has.
Smaller one still works great, just can't stuff a chicken into it.
Ok, just want to add again - I love, love my insta-pot. Pressure cooker and crock pot all rolled into one. I found a great bargain on whole chickens. I whole chicken takes a total of 25 min to pressure cook to yummy goodness. Cooked one right after the other all day. Boned them, packaged those honeys and have 8 chickens fully cooked and in the freezer.

Last night I made Beef Stew - Cooked the frozen stew meat for 22 min pressure then added all the other stuff, put the lid on and went to town. Home 5 hrs later to wonderful Beef Stew.
 

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BTW, crock pot liners are available at the grocery stores and they are a blessing. My DH holds them up over a measuring sup and slits the corner and drains the bits of broth out easily.
The instructions on the ones that I buy say NOT to pick up the bag with food in it. It's very fragile and could end up burning you.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the replies. Yes, the probe thing just seemed counter intuitive to me as I can only remember using a thermometer on a slow cooker maybe three times in all the years we've used a slow cooker.

After much discussion with my wife we decided to give the insta-pot cooker a try. I will admit I'm a bit skeptical as I've found in many cases the multifunction tools may do a lot of things ok, sometimes that also means they don't do anything really well. That said, the reviews are excellent and it would be nice to have just one device sitting on the counter ready to use.

We usually raise our own beef which of course means we have a freezer full of frozen beef. Many times we would like to cook the meat straight from a frozen state and doing so in the slow cooker was a bit touch and go as the frozen meat in the crock sometimes cracks the crock. We tried various schemes of putting the meat up on a rack, using judicious amounts of fluid, using liners etc but we still cracked the crock on occasion. I'm hoping the insta-pot can handle cooking from frozen with no problems as it uses a stainless steel pot.

It is supposed to be here today so hopefully we can test it thoroughly in the next 30 days and decide whether to keep it or return it.
 

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You will really like the Insta-Pot. One of the great things about them is being able to put frozen meat in right from the freezer and getting it cooked fast. I threw in a large beef heart the other day and it was done in an hour, from frozen. Can't beat it with a stick.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Tried a chuck roast and carrots on the pressure cooker setting from a thawed state yesterday. I didn't think the meat was all that great, it was fully cooked but just seemed like press-board. Very dense.

We put the second half of the same roast in the pot today on the slow cooker setting for 8 hours. This one from a frozen state. We couldn't figure out how to set a temperature - low, medium, high. Just a time setting. We will have to read the manual, I would hope there is a temp setting for the slow cooker function. I think we will need to buy the aftermarket clear lid for the slow cooker function, just doesn't seem right to not be able to see in there and check progress. :)

My experience with previous slow cookers is they would take a not-so-quality piece of meat and cook it to death over time, resulting in good tenderness. We will see how the instant pot does in that regard.

One thing I really like about the instant pot is it has a built in lid holder. This is very handy as I was always looking for a place to set the lid down when removing it from the slow cooker.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Last night I made Beef Stew - Cooked the frozen stew meat for 22 min pressure then added all the other stuff, put the lid on and went to town. Home 5 hrs later to wonderful Beef Stew.
Do you switch from pressure cooker function to slow cooker function for the 5 hour part of the cook?
 
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