If you don’t have a smoker or a grill, a slow-cooker isn’t a bad option. But let’s talk a bit more about where slow-cookers and Crock Pots (a brand name) come from.
Bar-B-Q’d Brisket from Sun City, Arizona.
But the inspiration behind our modern appliance slow-cookers was a modern solution to observing a commandment from the Almighty. The Fourth Commandment, specifically, which says to observe the Sabbath.
In Jewish traditions, that means not working on Saturday, and lighting a fire would be considered working. So one dish common to many Jewish cuisines worldwide (dating back to the 12th century) cholent, a meat, potato, and bean stew that would be prepared before the Sabbath, set on a fire that would slowly cook it and keep it warm through the day, and then served after sundown. In most villages, that meant taking a pot of food to the largest stone hearth in town, the bakery, and picking it up the next day.
In 1938, Irving Naxon was an inventor in the Chicago area with a Lithuanian Jewish heritage. His mother, Tamara Kaslovski Nachumsohn, had been the child assigned to deliver and pick up the cholent pot from the bakery. Based on that concept–slow, unattended cooking–he made an appliance that would maintain a constant level of heat throughout the day.
To be fair, electric cooking appliances were the rage in the 1930s, and electric roasters (heated boxes in which you could sit a metal pan that would cook food quickly) were already on the market. Naxon’s contributions were cooking directly in the vessel and a temperature control that permitted maintenance of lower temperatures. A fantastic invention with one slight marketing shortcoming: Americans didn’t generally know what cholent was. So he named it after another slow-cooked dish Americans did know, as demonstrated in this early advertisement from the June 3, 1939 edition of The Sheboygan Press:
Naxon marketed his product to cafeterias and other food service sites rather than the home market, and it sold reasonably well, although it wasn’t where Naxon made his money. (Among other inventions, Naxon invented a scrolling ticker sign that could be updated by telephone, electric skillets, and worked on oxygen flow indicators for use in World War II aircraft.) Ultimately, Naxon Utilities Corproation was acquired by a rival company in 1970. Actually, it was acquired by The Rival Company.
Rival had been around since the 1930s making various small appliances like can openers, juicers, and eventually irons. A year after acquiring the Beanery, they re-launched it under the name Crock Pot, targeted at a home appliance. The timing couldn’t have been better–women who wanted to “have it all” were enthusiastic about the ability to start dinner in the morning and come home from work to a finished meal. But of course, it’s not so easy to have it all, is it?
From the box of L.R. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Crock Pot Barbecue
1 3-to-4 lb. pork loin or Boston butt roast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 c. apple cider vinegar
Put these in crock pot and cook 10-12 hours on low or until done. Remove from pot. Remove bones. Cut meat into small pieces–toss with 1/4 to 1/2 c. ketchup, 6-8 Tbsp. of broth from pot, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, and Texas Pete to taste.
I always use more broth and ketchup. Adjust amounts to desired consistency.
1/2 head cabbage
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper
3 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. ketchup
6 Tbsp. cider vinegar
I hope you will make this and enjoy it as much as we do–this is the best slaw recipe I have ever found for BBQ.