I was mid-stew a month or so ago, when my trusty Rival, low-tech, one giant knobbed crock pot up and died. It was a sad day. She was a good and faithful kitchen companion who dutifully cooked soups, stews and sauces for the family for years on end. This picture below doesn't even do her justice, after 10 years of use she was not as shiny or streamlined, and she only had three settings: Off, Low, and High. "Warm" at the time was only a newfangled notion of the future.
Well after we had a touching goodbye ceremony (bagpipes were played, doves were released followed by a moment of silence), I started thinking ahead to what would replace her. I got pretty excited. Oo, maybe I could get a fancy new high-tech digital one with features like switches to warm when the cooking cycle is over, or a built in meat thermometer! Hubby came through with a new one for my birthday. It had all the bells and whistles! My new found joy was quickly turned into a bit of worry, as some of my friends on facebook warned that I might not like the new crock pots so much, because they cook things too hot.
Well that weekend I decided to make my crock pot spaghetti sauce that simmers slow all day. I started it on high (as I normally do, with the idea of turning it down to low shortly after). Well within a few hours, the whole thing was boiling. Not just bubbling merrily, but a HARD boil. I turned it down to the "low" setting. It was STILL boiling. Alright, I guess I'll turn it down to the warm setting. Guess what? Still boiling. Um... what the heck was going on??!! Off I went to the googles to find out. Turns out the government recently changed the rules.
Yes, they decided the American public (with 40 years of crock pottery experience) were entirely too stupid on their own to slow cook food all day. They decided to raise the temperature of all settings by 20-40º on all new pots in the last 5 years. The high setting is now close to 300º! The low temp is around 250º and even the warm setting is over 212º. I know this because that is the temperature water boils. Before the low temp was under 200º, probably closer to 180º. So in essence, they have made the notion of LOW and SLOW cooking null and void. If meat boils it changes the molecular structure, making it tough and stringy. You no longer can "set it and forget it", by putting a roast in the morning and come back and dinner time and have it ready and waiting for you. With these new crocks all the liquid would be burned off and your meat will be tough and dried out. You have to sit and baby sit your meal all day, adjusting temps, adding water. No way would you leave and go to work, you might come home to the whole thing boiled over all over the counter or maybe it could even catch on fire! Yikes.
I was so upset by this. It boiled the living snarf out of my sauce, which was done in half the time, by the way. I decided there must be something else out there! I did some on line research, turns out a LOT of people are ticked off about the higher temp pots. Old recipes don't work any more, food is overdone and you can no longer cook low and slow, the whole POINT of a crock pot.
Well I just found the answer (cue angel music and heavenly light here)! It's not called a crock pot technically, but you can use it that way.
It's a Nesco professional 6qt roaster oven. It works just like a crock pot but here's the best part, you can control the temp, from 125º to 400º!! Hallelujah. Now I've found something that works just like my old trusty crock pot. Set it and forget it here I come! Low and slow, remember me? I'm BACK! PS. By the way, it also can roast, bake, stew, etc. It is also non-stick and has a removable cookwell for easy cleaning.
So I went right out and packaged up the other "HOT" pot and took it right back to the store. We should all boycott these new pots that simply do not work correctly. Too HOT means you can cook low and slow. Find a pot where you can control the temperature and you will be golden. Wait, you will be yummy and tender and delicious and falling off the bone, and your children will sing your praises and actually clean their plates, and your hubby will write sonnets in your honor, and your in-laws will take the kids for the weekend, and you will live happily ever after. Amen.