But did you know it's good for a lot of simple things too, like baked potatoes, cracked wheat and even soaking and cooking dried beans? Let me enlighten you.
Slow Cooker Baked Potatoes
10-12 small potatoes
Stab potatoes with fork and wrap each one in foil. Place in slow cooker and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 4 hours. (Time depends on the size of the potatoes.) If you need to cook them on low, plan for about 8 to 10 hours.
Slow Cooker Cracked Wheat
1 cup dry wheat kernels (also called berries)
3 cups water
1/4 tsp sea salt*
Rinse wheat in a colander and drain. Place in slow cooker; add water and salt. Cook on low for at least 7 hours or overnight until wheat is "cracked" and tender. Top with milk, brown sugar, granola, raisins, maple syrup...whatever you love!
* I love Real Salt Natural Sea Salt, and not just because it's a local company. It's really, really good.
Image by KirrilyRobert, shared via Flickr.
Slow Cooker Dried Beans*
1 bag of beans (pinto, black, cannellini, chili, etc.; you can also do black-eyed peas)
Rinse beans in a colander using cold water. Remove any beans that are split, shriveled or simply look undesirable. Place remaining beans in the slow cooker and add enough water to cover the beans plus 2 inches. Cover. Do not turn on the slow cooker! Let the beans soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. (Note: If you live in a warm climate and your kitchen is on the warmer side, place the slow cooker insert in your fridge to ward off bacteria.)
In the morning, discard the water and rinse the beans. Place the beans in the slow cooker and cover with enough water to cover the beans plus an extra 2 to 3 inches. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Reduce heat and cook on low an additional 6 hours. The beans are done when they are tender.
Drain the beans and use in your favorite recipe or place in storage containers. Cooked beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 6 months.
(NOTE: If using red or kidney beans, boil your beans rapidly on the stove for at least 10 minutes to kill a possible toxin found in the beans.)
* Obviously they're not dried once you cook them but "Cooking Dried Beans in the Slow Cooker" wouldn't have been consistent with the other two recipe titles.
Slow Cooker Chicken Broth
2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
6 cups water
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 tablespoon dried basil or parsley
Place the chicken pieces, water, salt, celery, carrots, onion and basil in slow cooker. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours. Strain before using and discard vegetables. (Sometimes placing the broth in the refrigerator makes it easier to skim off the fat.) Remove the chicken from the bones and save to use in your favorite chicken soup or salad.
For easy storage, separate the broth into 1- or 2-cup servings and freeze for use later.
Previous Slow Cooker Anyday recipes: