“Slow cooker” is a generic term for an electric casserole that cooks food with relatively low heat over a long period of time. Electric slow-cookers became popular in the 1970s when The Rival Company introduced the Crock Pot, which offered convenience as well as purported energy savings. While the popularity of slow cookers has waxed and waned over the last 50 years, smart cooks, and young hipsters eager to revive that by-gone vibe are snatching up new and vintage Crock Pots and slow simmering soups, sauces, stews, beans, braises and even oatmeal. As the name suggests, they are slow, but if you follow the directions you can safely leave them to do their thing while you’re out doing your thing. Besides the great flavors and textures, who doesn’t want to come home to the heady aroma of pot roast?
Although I prefer old “analog” models with a three position knob (off/low/high) because they can be controlled by standard light timers from the hardware store, modern digital models often feature holding and delay cook settings, which are nice. My suggestion when buying new one is to keep it simple. Oh, and you might want to consider two cookers, a small, round four-quart model for soups, pot roast and day-to-day cooking, as well as a large oval model to handle bigger chores like chickens and even turkeys. And yes … you can make fantastic shredded barbecue pork in a crock pot and very few people will ever know.