If you want a well-cooked, sizeable, tasty and wholesome meal in a relatively short period of time, then the Rival® 38501-W 5-Quart Slow Cooker is not for you. If, however, you are prepared to wait either four, six, eight or 10 hours, then this ponderous piece of kitchenware is perfect. I should qualify the term "perfect:" if you use inferior ingredients, or add too much of a particular spice or ingredient, this slow cooker cannot save the meal. But for basic fare, or even slightly fancy food, the Rival® 38501-W is very handy.
Recommend this product?
I often use the Rival® 38501-W for recipes that call for oven, skillet or pot preparation, with mostly good results. An ideal example is Tender Onion Baked Chicken, which I discovered on page 165 of tried & true quick & easy top 200 recipes (Allrecipes, 2002). This simple, delicious meal is "supposed" to be prepared in a 9" x 13" baking dish, but I have had great results dumping the 10 chicken breast strips, ¼ cup margarine, a dash of salt and pepper, and 1 ½ ounces of dried onion soup mix into the Rival® 38501-W's spacious ceramic basin and setting the timer for four hours. This takes considerably longer than the recommended 40 minutes in the oven, but give me extra time for other tasks (like writing product reviews). Those who work nine to five, or eight to four jobs, might feel inclined to prepare their dinners before going to work.
Soups, roasts and stews turn out well when prepared in this slow cooker. I tried my hand at various types of chili, with only one minor mishap, and that was due to a major blunder on my part!
Rival® 38501-W 5-Quart Slow Cooker is pretty safe, although care should be taken in a household with small children. An unassuming, warm container sitting on the countertop can invite curiosity. The fire risk is negligible, unless the electric cord is frayed or not fully inserted into the outlet, although the latter seems an unlikely source of potential catastrophe. When the specified number of hours elapses, the Rival® 38501-W 5-Quart Slow Cooker automatically shuts off. With the heavy glass lid in place, your meal will stay hot for a long time.
The lid and interior ceramic basin are very heavy, and care must be taken when washing them. These parts are also slippery when wet, and I have nearly dropped them on a few occasions. The fluted exterior surface of the basin, ostensibly designed for ease of lifting and carrying, makes cleaning more laborious than would be the case with a smooth surface. The part of the Rival® 38501-W that actually contains the circuitry is fairly light, but also should be washed. The surfaces of the three components can be wiped off with minimal effort; hauling them into and out of the sink is what is problematic. A dishwasher eases the process considerably, but my humble kitchen is not so lavishly-endowed.
Emptying the cooking basin of residual oils and liquids is difficult, commensurate with the quantity produced. In the aforementioned case of Tender Onion Baked Chicken, the liquid produced is minimal. Disposing of the remnants of my disastrous vegetarian chili was another story! Some things cannot be poured down the sink of flushed down the toilet.
The Rival® 38501-W is too clunky to be constantly taken out and put back into the pantry, so if you use this crock pot frequently, find a good, safe spot on the kitchen counter.
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