I own a Crock-Pot and a slow cooker. When recipes say to use a slow cooker, can I use either one? —J.S., Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
Actually both appliances you mention are slow cookers, but they operate differently. The term Crock-Pot is the trademarked name given to stoneware slow cookers manufactured by Rival. This type of slow cooker has a crockery insert or stoneware liner that may be removable and has two temperature settings: low (about 170°-280°) and high (about 300°). The metal unit that encases the crockery contains the heating coils, which allow for continuous even heat to surround the food and help prevent scorching and burning.
The other type of slow cooker has a removable thin metal cooking pot that sits on an electric heating base. Some foods have a tendency to stick and cook unevenly, though, since the heat comes from underneath the pan and cycles on and off during cooking. In both appliances, foods may need to be stirred during cooking. Since heat escapes every time the lid is lifted, you may need to add 15 to 20 minutes to the overall cooking time each time you remove the lid. Our recipes that use a slow cooker are tested with the crockery-type slow cooker.