Shutterstock / Elena Shashkina
The concept of slow cooking existed long before Irving Naxon filed his patent for the would-be Crock-Pot in 1936. He was inspired by his mother’s bean stew, called cholent, a popular Jewish recipe served during the Sabbath when observers were expected not to work. Accordingly, the stew was cooked slowly in the oven using residual heat from the night before.Crock-Pot. Busy working moms quickly hopped on board with the idea of cooking dinner while they were at work. Today, the slow cooker’s popularity continues to soar as workdays and schedules fill up, pushing dinner to bottom of the to-do list.
Luckily, even if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can still enjoy the delicious fruits of the glut of slow cooker recipes available with a few simple modifications. The transition from slow cooker to stovetop or oven is simple if you remember to adjust cooking times and temperatures. Additionally, cooking in the oven or on the stovetop might require a slight liquid adjustment if you plan to cook the recipe faster and at a higher temperature. Slow-cooker recipes tend to use very little liquid because the food is cooked so slowly, leading to less evaporation.
The heavy cast-iron Dutch oven is an ideal replacement for the slow cooker because it tends to distribute heat evenly. If you are comfortable leaving your oven on all day, set it to a low temperature, between 200 (for slow-cooker recipes that call for low) and 250 (for slow-cooker recipes that call for high) degrees F. Place your ingredients in the Dutch oven as you would the slow cooker, and cook as directed in the recipe. Remember to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of pork and poultry to ensure it is safe to eat.
We’ve rounded up our favorite slow cooker recipes that will transition from slow cooker to oven or stovetop without a hitch.
Braised Lamb Stew
Thinkstock / PierreLavigne
Feel free to add other herbs, like rosemary or thyme, and vegetables like chickpeas or beans, but this lamb stew is delicious as is. — Yasmin Fahr
Without a slow cooker: Cook in the oven, using a Dutch oven, at 200 degrees F for 2 to 3 hours or until the lamb is tender.
Cranberry Maple Slow Cooker Oatmeal
Thinkstock / dbvirago
Be sure to use steel-cut oats for this recipe, as regular oatmeal will not hold up to this length of cooking. If you like your oatmeal very creamy, you can cook it up to eight hours. — WeightWatchers.com
Without a slow cooker: Cook in the oven, using a Dutch oven, at 200 degrees F for 4 to 6 hours.
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.