Grant Achatz professes his devotion to the 1970s’ favorite cooking gadget and shares three fantastic stews.
In 2011, I gathered a small group of my chefs to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming “childhood” menu at my Chicago restaurant Next, where we come up with a whole new theme every few months. To jump-start the conversation, I asked a purposefully vague question: “What is childhood?” “Atari,” someone replied. “Legos,” called out someone else. “My grandmother’s pot roast in the Crock-Pot,” said a third.
For me, and for a lot of people, slow cookers like the Crock-Pot are deeply evocative of childhood. Every Halloween when I was growing up, my mom made chili in her Crock-Pot. She started it around 1 p.m. and let it cook all day. My friends and cousins and I would play outside, and when we got chilly, we’d come in and have a cup to warm up. Then we’d put our costumes on and go out trick-or-treating. Later, if we got hungry while we were counting our candy, we’d have some more chili.