Its funny - if you dont have something; naturally, you tend not to miss it. Once you get it, however, you cant seem to live without it. Ive been aware of slow-cookers for years - those bubbling buckets of burnt-on yecch that were nothing more than glorified and modified avocado and harvest gold hot-plates - and all the rage back in the seventies.
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I once rented a house on a dairy farm with a wood-burning kitchen range. Most winter weekends were spent baking bread and simmering home-made baked beans for hours. This style of cooking is an acquired art, as there is no thermostat to provide instant heat at the turn of a knob. The small firebox meant that pre-heating was time-consuming, and temperature change was gradual.
Which brings me back around to my Rival Crock Pot 4.5 Quart Slow-Cooker. The major selling point for slow-cooker technology is the ability to load it up with your favorite meal in the morning, and come home to an instant dinner at the end of the day. While Ive never been a fan of leaving electrical things operating when not at home, supervised excursions with my new toy so far have shown it to be a safe and reliable appliance.
What you get
Of course, Santa could have pitched a fancier model down the chimney, but mentioning this in next years letter to the North Pole may only serve to curtail availability of such future treasure. The Rival SCR 450 may not be the brightest bulb on the tree, but it does what its told with a minimum of preparation, and requires virtually no attention while doing so.
The Rival SCR 450 Crock Pot base is round, and stands 10 inches high (including handle on lid). Construction consists of a painted (white) stamped aluminum exterior, and an unfinished interior, with embossed cautions (in English, French and Spanish) regarding immersion and cooking without stoneware liner in place. Three stubby but sturdy feet allow a one-half inch clearance from the counter top surface. The base weighs 2 lbs. 11 oz., and the color-coordinated power cord measures in at 30 inches. Power consumption is 175 Watts on High. A dial in the center of the front panel has three settings: Off, Low and High. A sturdy plastic handle on either side allows the unit to be lifted or moved while operational. Unit must be operated on a heat-proof surface, such as a granite or marble counter top or cutting-board.
The 4 lb. 11 oz. gleaming white stoneware insert measures 12 inches in diameter, including the slight flare at the handles; has a 4.5 quart capacity, and resembles a large flower pot. This removable ceramic liner hand-washes easily, and is dishwasher-safe. The clear glass domed lid is trimmed in stainless steel, and has a stay-cool plastic loop handle at the center.
The 50 page owners manual is divided equally into English and French sections, and adequately explains the functions and precautions regarding operation of the cooker, as well as the 1-year limited warranty. 12 of the pages offer 21 recipes - from soups to roasts to vegetarian fare - more than enough instruction is available to acclimate the most novice of Crock-Potters. The 14 warnings on page 1 are standard, common-sense reminders of safe and acceptable operation. The one I find most fascinating is the caution against placing the entire unit in a heated oven.
How it works
After scanning the available recipes, I decided to make soup with my left-over Christmas roast. Steak Soup was the closest available recipe in content, so my hearty fare became loosely-based upon this instruction. Included are time allotments for both high and low settings. I chose the Low setting, with a required cooking time of 8 hours. With a couple of bay leaves, some parsley, chive and black pepper, my beef and vegetable soup was delicious. Best of all, it cooked up using the energy of a mid-sized incandescent light bulb, rather than the current required to achieve the same results on my electric cook-top.
Next up was a 3.5 lb. Beef Chuck roast. I assembled the roast, spices and a half-cup of red wine in the stoneware liner. Using the Low setting, the roast eventually smelled great, and was melt-in-your-mouth tender in about 8 hours. If you are going to add vegetables on this setting, allow 3 hours for them to cook thoroughly. Be sure to trim any fat off of the roast before cooking if you intend to add vegetables later on.
I look forward to future meals of Stuffed Green Bell Peppers, and Turkey Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust - two of the more tempting recipes found in the manual. The Easy Does It Spaghetti is a beef and sauce concoction with pasta added an hour before completion. As for poultry, there are recipes for chicken, turkey and Cornish game hens; though I prefer mine convection-roasted - some habits are hard to break.
The Rival SCR 450 4.5 Quart Crock Pot doesnt have a sleek stainless steel exterior, or a cool blue digital readout like some cookers. It serves as an inexpensive, economical and reliable introduction to the art and convenience of slow-cooking. Once you sample its virtues, you will never want to be without it.
Rival SCR 450 4.5 Quart Crock Pot
Milford, MA 01757
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Amount Paid (US$): gift