Pros: Heats evenly, well made despite a seemingly flimsy exterior. Readily available.
Cons: Exterior skin feels flimsy but appears to hold up well.
Stew. What'dja think I was gonna say ?
Mrs Twigg had been hinting she wanted a crock pot for sometime now and while I didnt want to give her one for Christmas. (How many of you gave your Moms an electric can opener or a toaster for Christmas ?) She really wanted one though. So I gave her a Hamilton Beach 33064 6Quart Slow Cooker the day after Christmas.
The cooker comes well boxed and the exterior skin is a thin stainless steel with two stout handles riveted on. The cooker has copper tinted base. While a saute pan may have a copper plated base for even heat distribution, here its only a cosmetic application.
The cover is heat resistant glass with a large easy to grasp knob on top. The walls and base of the cooker contains the heating elements and are fairly thick. The power cord is about three feet long so youll be able to plug this in just about anywhere on a typical kitchen counter.
One simple rotary control with four positions is centered on the side. Off, Warm, Low and High are clearly marked and each has a positive detent so you can feel where the control is. A small red indicator light reminds you when the power is on. The housing is NOT dishwasher safe and should not be immersed in water !
The heart of any slow cooker is the container or Crock and the one used here is a nice heavy ceramic pot with thick walls and a good black colored glaze. In my opinion a crock pot just isnt going to work very well unless it uses a real ceramic pot thats good and thick. This is what will hold the heat in as the heating elements cycle on & off and prevent food from burning and sticking to the insides. The crock itself and it's cover can be put into a dishwasher. They are large, will take up a lot of space and may interfear with the top rack. Some dishwashers are larger than others.
According to the UL sticker on the bottom of the cooker the heating elements will draw only 265 watts making this one of the most energy efficient ways to prepare a hot meal.
The user's manual provides no less than 48 recipes covering one dish meals, soups & stews, Main dishes, side dishes and several miscellaneous items as well. Hamilton Beach provides a one year warranty for this item.
What follows below is a recipe I like to call 45-70 Buffalo Stew. The 45-70 is for the black powder cartridge (.45 caliber bullet powered by 70 grains of blackpowder.) used to take buffalo during the expansion of the west. Most supermarkets sell buffalo this is what works best with this recipe, although I have used Venison and if you are not the adventurous kind it will work well with regular beef. But whatever you do dont bother with Stew Beef get yourself at least a good thick Black Angus London Broil or Sirloin and cut it up into cubes.
One word about this cooker before you start, this will boil any liquids you put into it so use the low setting unless you need to reduce the volume of liquid.
45-70 Buffalo Stew
Serves three or four, better to double it and put some away for later in the week.
2 lbs. Bison steaks cut into 1" cubes.
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon - note the secret ingredient here...
1 1/2 c. beef broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp crushed garlic)
If you really like garlic just crush the whole clove between two spoons.
1 softball sized chopped red onion
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika - the spicy kind !
10 oz baby Portobelo mushrooms (whole, stems removed)
4 sliced carrots
3 cubed potatoes (Yukon gold works well)
1 stalk celery, diced not sliced !
Put meat in crock pot. Mix flour, salt and pepper and add to meat and stir to coat meat. Add remaining ingredients and stir gently. Cover and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours. Stir well before serving.
Best enjoyed with fresh hot biscuits & butter (Forget the margarine for once !) A good dark beer, or a glass of fresh cold milk. Weve never had leftovers unless we double the recipe ! Enjoy !