I couldn't imagine what Rival could do to improve their time-saving Crock-Pot®, but their new programmable Smart-Pot is a real winner. Rival, which controls about 85% of the estimated $100-million slow cooker appliance market, offers about 40 different models. The latest models include the Smart-Pot, a divided oval Crock-Pot and a Cool-Touch Crock-Pot.
Using the Smart-Pot
The first thing I did when I unpacked my 5-quart round model was check the lid. Perfect fit; snug and against the crockery all the way around. I picked some fresh green beans and layered them with sliced potatoes, onions, dried dill, bits of margarine, a few tablespoons of water and salt and pepper until the pot was nearly full. I then set it on HIGH for 4 hours, added a can of condensed cream of chicken soup when it was done and left it on WARM for about an hour before serving. Perfectly cooked and delicious! The Smart-Pot comes with a 50-recipe cookbook along with the recipes listed in the Owner's Guide.
One thing they didn't build in, and I'm sure it was for safety reasons, is a way to time it to start cooking. The WARM setting after the time is up is probably most important improvement, and reason enough for most of us to buy one. Now, if your meal will be done in 8 hours but your work day is 10 or 12, the pot automatically switches to WARM. The WARM setting -- recommended for no more than 4 hours -- will fill a big need for many people. Another safety plus - the POWER light blinks until you unplug the appliance.
As with most automated appliances, you might find a drawback or two; the only temperature choices are 4 or 6 hours on HIGH and 8 or 10 hours on LOW. For recipes you want to cook for 6 or fewer hours on low, you still have to be there to turn it off. All of that said, Rival's recipes all fit into the automated times, and if the pot is filled as recommended, most recipes should come out fine. All in all, the Smart-Pot is a great step forward, and certainly one of the least-likely to be put up on a shelf to gather dust.