This is an entirely unsolicited, unsubsidized review of the Crock Pot Express and a few cookbooks relating to the appliance. While there will be Amazon affiliate links, that’s as far as it goes.
If you’re starting at the end, make sure to check out the play-by-play in parts 1, 2, and 3.
Final Thoughts on the 6qt Crock Pot Express
Overall, I was surprisingly impressed by the Crock Pot Express and I look forward to trying out more of it’s functions and features in the coming weeks. Oh, hell, I named the damn thing, I adore it–let’s be honest!
From a usability standpoint, once I got accustomed to the way the appliance worked, my comfort level grew exponentially. Unlike the stove top pressure cooker I tried a few years ago, this one doesn’t rattle and only whistles the tiniest bit when it’s building pressure. Nothing alarming or concerning at all. No desire to flee to the next room and peek around the corner with a mirror to protect myself from the shrapnel.
The earlier recipe issues were, I think, just that. Incomplete instructions made for lackluster results. My concern that the cooker may not be functioning as intended was dispelled once we got into more straightforward applications.
Upkeep-wise, I’d read (in reviews on the Crock Pot site, when I was looking at replacement parts availability) that using the dishwasher for the inner pot (despite this being shown on the sales page for the pot) had damaged the finish for some people. Since I don’t want that to happen, we’ve stuck to handwashing. The good news is that so far nothing sticks and clean-up is a breeze. I’m still planning on ordering a second inner pot (and a spare gasket, just in case) to have on hand for busy nights.
Also, I need to get my hands on some smaller cooking vessels for pot-in-pot recipes. I found a 7-cup Pyrex bowl (I carried it over to the display model in Target to make sure it would fit!) that I used for the quiche, but they didn’t have a small enough springform pan or other bakeware. The steam rack that comes with the CPE is a shade over 7.5″ wide, so 6-inch diameter vessels seem the safest bed.
A Word on the Books
I used a lot of the recipes from 500 Crock Pot Express Recipes by Jamie Stewart, even after the first few tried to go pear-shaped on me. It wasn’t planned, it’s just the one I bookmarked the most out of. Would I actually recommend it? Hard to say. No, really! With 500 recipes, there’s bound to be a few duds, but at the same time it also means you’ve got a lot of options to choose from.
The Crock Pot Express Cookbook by Dave Zinman didn’t have as many recipes that I was interested in, but your mileage may vary, as with all things. There was one recipe that involved Cake Crusts as an ingredient that puzzled me to no end. Upon looking it up I did find some references to using the crust of a sponge cake for cheesecake instead of graham cracker, etc. So maybe that’s it.
The Crock Pot Express Beginner’s Guide and Cookbook (by Elizabeth Moore), however, I cooked zero recipes from–I just didn’t get to them–but really enjoyed the info at the beginning of the book. That’s where I learned things like the CPE needs at least a cup of liquid to create sufficient pressure and to thin down thicker sauces (like barbecue sauce) to prevent burning or insufficient pressure.
Of course, you also have to take some of the tips with a grain of salt as she mentions removing foods like oatmeal or pearl barley from recipes when you convert the for pressure because they foam and can clog the works. There’s a multigrain preset, so that seems a bit overly cautious, don’t you think? And then the first recipe is for Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal. So, yeah, a little contradictory.
I think after a few weeks I’ll feel more comfortable adapting recipes for use in Exie and I won’t feel so dependent on specific recipes. We shall see!