When they first appeared in the
s, slow cookerswere widely promoted as time-savers. The earliestmodels allowed home cooks to come home after afull day’s work and serve a delicious homemade mealthat tasted as if they had spent hours stirring a poton the stove top. Today, the latest generation of slowcookers offers that same appealing convenience, plusnew options that expand their versatility beyond whatwas possible in those early days.Decades ago, cooks typically tossed a few ingredientsinto a slow cooker, switched it on, and were contentwith whatever emerged when the selected time hadelapsed. And indeed, without fail, slow cookers stillproduce fork-tender meat just as they did in the past.But they can also turn out uniformly soft textures, wateryflavors, and dull colors, qualities perhaps overlookedin the past in favor of the slow cooker’s convenience.Today’s cooks—and diners—want more.In the following pages, you will discover how to ensureyour slow-cooked dishes have bright, fresh flavors,colors, and textures. Not only will you understand theimportance of selecting the best meats, fish, beans,grains, and vegetables for the slow cooker, but you willalso learn how to prepare those ingredients to draw outthe most flavor, as well as how to use aromatics, herbs,and garnishes, salads, or other fresh components toheighten the flavor and appeal of everything you serve.You will also find tips on seasoning for maximum effect,on how to layer ingredients for even cooking, on whybrowning some ingredients before they go in the cookercontributes more complex flavors, and on how to choosethe best slow cooker for your household.Many of the recipes that follow are innovative updatesof classic slow-cooker dishes, such as a meltingly tenderbeef stew garnished with crisp frisée dressed in a bacon-shallot vinaigrette. Others are brand new, such as aMediterranean-inspired honey-braised pork loin dressedup with succulent fresh figs, spicy arugula, and crunchypistachios. Slow cooking recipes often skip fish dishes,but here salmon is simmered with memorable results:the fish, perfumed with herbs, becomes tender andsucculent. Vegetables, too, are often ignored, but notin these pages: French ratatouille cooks gently in thesteady heat of the slow cooker and emerges with thecolors of its summer vegetables still bright and appealing.All of the recipes in this book deliver the fork-tendertexture and kitchen ease that were hallmarks of recipesfor early slow cookers. But they are also deliciouslycontemporary, rich in the robust flavors, crunchytextures, and bright colors of the modern table.
Slow cookers today remain as popular as they were at their debutsome forty years ago, a testament to their versatility, their ease of use,and to the comforting dishes that have impressed home cooks forgenerations. But today’s cooks also want healthy ingredients, freshflavors, and crunchy textures to be a part of their slow-cooked meals.
The New Slow Cook