Home slow cookers have been around for more than 40 years, but today, they're almost trendy.
They're perfect for braising, a technique that's a favorite of chefs who have been embracing less-expensive cuts of meat that become hearty and succulent when cooked low and slow.
In addition to braising — cooking food in a little liquid at a fairly low temperature — a spate of new cookbooks have been promoting slow cooking for everything from calorie counting ("Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook") to new approaches to ethnic specialties ("The French Slow Cooker," by Michele Scicolone; "Slow Cooking," by Antony Worrall Thompson, which has recipes inspired by the foods of Asia, Africa and the Caribbean).
And if you live alone or in a small household, slow cookers are great for making a meal to enjoy right away plus leftovers to refrigerate or freeze for later.
If you haven't pulled your slow cooker out of the cabinet for a while, maybe it's time. Here are some recipes to get you off to a fast start toward some wonderful slow food.