Hey folks. I bought a slow cooker a while back because I have a job where I work an afternoon/evening shift, and I thought it would be convenient to start something cooking when I go to bed (midnight-ish) and have a pot of food ready when I wake up in the morning. However, the damn thing has ruined some of my favorite recipes, and I'm not sure why.
I absolutely love stuffed cabbage in a sweet tomato sauce, but the one time I made it in the slow cooker, it came out bland and dry, with an unpleasant and unfamiliar texture. I've tried making short ribs twice, with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and celery, using slightly different recipes each time. Once I used a beef broth base, and the second time I used more barbecue sauce for a smoky, tangy flavor. Even though I browned the short ribs in a pan first both times, the dishes came out disappointing, with a tinny, metallic taste. The second time, I literally threw up after eating it... a major embarrassment, although luckily I was the only one who had sampled it.
This past weekend, I attempted slow cooker chili, whereas I usually just simmer it on the stovetop for an hour or two. This was another all-night affair, on low heat for eight hours. I used lean ground beef (which I browned in a pan first), canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, diced jalapenos, diced chipotles from a can with adobo sauce (which I also added), and some shaved semisweet baker's chocolate and a bit of sugar to cut all the acid. It came out a lot darker red than I am used to, and it also had some of that metallic taste to it. I feel obliged to eat it, rather than waste all those ingredients, but it's the worst chili I've ever made.
So what am I doing wrong? Is it the long cooking times? I figure that with enough liquid, things should be able to simmer overnight and not be harmed, but I may be wrong. Is it just the slow cooker itself? I recently made my first pot of real gumbo, with a roux and everything, and it was a successful experiment because I used the stove -- I didn't dare ruin it in the slow cooker. I may just quit using it completely. Thoughts?