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I get this feeling that slow cookers are not the "in" appliance at the moment, so I'm going to try and change all that with this review. I decided I wanted a slow cooker when my new oven failed to stay on long enough (electric - turned it self off - don't ask!!) to do my long slow Lancashire Hotpot recipe, so a quick nip onto the old internet and the Morphy Richards Digital Slow cooker model no. 48730 is what I bought.
The appliance is made up of brushed finish stainless steel and it has a ceramic hotpot inner which is removable so if you like you can take your cooked meal to the table to serve. The pot is dishwasher safe and is a HUGE 6 ½ litre capacity, guaranteed to serve the largest of families.
The digital control panel allows cooking times to range from around 4 to 8 hours depending upon the recipe you wish to cook and once the cooking time is over it has a keep warm facility which means you do not have to walk in the door just as it has finished to have your hot meal. The lid is made of toughened glass so you can have a peek at your meal without lifting the lid.
Recipe Book - it comes with a 16 page user guide/recipe book which ok is not very long but gives some very good "basic" recipes that either can be adapted to suit individuals tastes or used as a comparison to enable you to cook your own favourite recipe.
Recipes already in the book include, minestrone soup, lentil soup, vegetable soup, chicken casserole, Caribbean chicken, chicken in white wine sauce, fricassee of turkey, new England beef, steak and kidney ragout, beef curry, paprika beef, beef in red wine, goulash, chilli con carne, oriental honeyed pork, pork and pineapple curry, lamb with lentils, vegetarian curry and even desserts like rice pudding and fruit compote.
The user guide is very thorough on safety, taking you through the safety instructions, electrical requirements and features. It then runs though a section on slow cooking, what foods are suitable and tips for slow cooking. These are really useful if you wish to adapt your own recipes. There are also guidelines on how to boil gammon, or pot roast beef etc. At the end of the guide after the recipes there is a weight/volume conversion table and advice on how to clean your slow cooker. It also has the UK and Ireland helpline number details and the web address on the front.
Having never own one before I just thought that they were glorified casserole producers but I really now think they are much more than that. It never occurred to me that you could do soups and puddings in them. It also never occurred to me that you could put together your bolognaise sauce ingredients in the morning, pop it into your slow cooker and when you come home on a night, its cooked and all you then have to do is cook your pasta and pop on your garlic bread and hey presto (or should I say hey pesto! Sorry!) - Delicious!
So far I have cooked, sausage casserole (my daughters favourite), chilli con carne (my husbands favourite), bolognaise, chicken casserole and of course my slow Lancashire Hotpot recipe (my favourite) and they have all been a success. This weekend I going to try the rice pudding recipe, so I will add to this review and let you know how it turned out.
The disadvantages of this type of cooking is you do have to be pretty organised and know what you want to eat the morning or previous day. All frozen foods to be cooked in the cooker need to be completely thawed before you cook them so that means frozen meat and veg have to be taken out of the freezer the night before. All of the recipes require you to brown the meat or "cook" some or all of the ingredients before you put them into the cooker and all liquid/stock added must be boiling so you end up having a little cooking session first thing in the morning which may not suit all routines. But the advantage is of course that once that is over it's into the cooker and away it goes, no more messing or fiddling.
They do warn you in the user guide to not keep taking the lid off as this allows steam to escape and then you have to add another 10 mins to the cooking time. This is why the lid is clear so that you can check on your meal without taking the lid off. The other warning they give is do not use it under kitchen cupboards because of the amount of steam it produces. To use it on a work surface away from your cupboards is what is recommended.
This is one of the larger cookers available on the market with its 6 ½ litre capacity which is a lot! There are smaller ones available for smaller families but the other advantage of having the larger pot is to make double quantities and of course freeze the rest, so you always then have a meal tucked away in your freezer when you just want to microwave and go!
All in all I am glad I have bought this cooker and all this talk about food is making me hungry and yes I have chicken casserole cooking as I write!
One other thing - the customer service is excellent. I managed to spill coffee on my user guide this morning so I rang the helpline and they are sending me a new one in the post tonight - free of charge! Brilliant.