The Morphy Richards 3.5L Digital Sear and Stew Slow Cooker is a good-looking, 3.5-litre slow cooker with digital controls and three heat settings. You can programme it to cook for between 4 and 10 hours and the time remaining is shown on the digital display.
The cooker doesn't have a hot setting for searing meat or sautéing base ingredients such as onions, garlic and spices, but its non-stick pot is designed to work on your own hob – it's compatible with gas and electric hobs, but not induction – so you can sear or sauté before slow cooking, without dirtying another pan. It's also available in a much larger 6.5L size for just £10 more – perfect for large families and batch cooking.
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The cooker looks good, in a brushed silver or red finish. The shape is oval – wide but not too deep. The front is home to a digital display and button controls for time and temperature. You choose the heat setting and then select the time, using up and down buttons to adjust the cooking time by 30-minute intervals. Cooking time ranges from 6 to 10 hours on the low heat setting and 4 to 7 hours on high heat.
The cooker offers three heat settings: high, low or keep warm. The Morphy Richards automatically switches to keep warm at the end of the programmed cooking time – which means you can switch it on in the morning and return to a cooked meal up to 9 hours later.
The "Sear" in the product name refers to the ability to sear meat or sauté base ingredients such as onions, garlic and spices. This is slightly misleading as the cooker doesn't have a setting for this. Instead, the cooking pot – which is lightweight metal, non-stick inside and out – is hob-safe. The idea is that you pop it on your (gas or electric) hob to sear or sauté before slow cooking. Slightly more bother but at least it means you won't have to dirty another pan.
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The digital controls are the most impressive thing about the Morphy Richards. Slow Cookers are a wonderful time-saver: prepare the ingredients for a healthy, one-pot dish at breakfast time and then return to a hearty supper. But most have minimal controls. So if you spontaneously decide to go out for the night after work, you're left with a sense of unease: will your soup be solid, will your curry be cremated?
The Morphy Richards' digital controls don't let you set a start time, but they do let you control the overall cooking time. With a handy two-hour keep warm period after for when you're unexpectedly delayed. Still, the timer feels limited. Some slow cooker recipes call for shorter cooking times than 4 hours or ask you to stir or add ingredients after just an hour. Could the timer not have offered even more control? You will find yourself using a kitchen timer alongside it for such recipes.
That minor grumble aside, the Morphy Richards truly impresses. Searing on the hob works a treat and the slow cooker controls are easy to master. The cooking pot is feather light which means it heats up quickly – whether on the hob or in the slow cooker itself. The downside is that, unlike a ceramic crock, the thin metal also cools quickly so it's less good at keeping food hot at the table.
The cooker's glass lid means it's easy to inspect progress – it's important not to lift a slow cooker lid more often than you have to, as it really slows down the cooking. And results were superb: a sweet potato and lentil curry really showed the benefits of slow cooking; vegetables retained their shape but melted in the mouth.
Cleaning is very easy thanks to the pot's non-stick coating, inside and out. And the pot and glass lid are both dishwasher-safe.
If you're looking for a slow cooker, rather than a multi-cooker like the Tefal 8 in 1 Multi Cooker or the Sage Risotto Plus, then yes. The Morphy Richards is impressive, not just for its cooking results but for its digital controls that let you program the cooking time.
Compared with budget slow cookers like the Lakeland Brushed Chrome Family Slow Cooker it also has the advantage that its pot can be used on the hob to sear or sauté ingredients before slow cooking.
An impressive slow cooker that lets you control cooking times, making it arguably worth the slight premium over budget models.
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