I've been known to use a slow cooker from time to time. if you don't feel like heating up an oven for 3 hours or risk scorching something for a long slow simmer, the crock pot is the way to go.
I have a few tips to add flavor and speed up the process. first off don't put anything cold in the crock pot: stock, vegetables or meat should be warmed. if you are making beef stew, brown the meat like you would in any other method of cooking. Always used a cut of meat that would benefit from long slow cooking, don't waste your time with chicken breasts or tender cuts of beef or pork. if I'm making chili i generally saute, heat and combine everything on the stove-top before tossing the result into the slow cooker. that's the introduction, now hear is the recipe.
2 pounds diced chuck steak or top round cut of beef
oil, salt pepper
1 medium onion, 1/2 in. dice
7 cloves garlic
1/2 cup celery, 1/2 in. dice
1 quart chicken or beef stock
1 cup diced rutabaga
7 medium red potatoes
season and saute` the beef over high heat, until caramelized and brown, i used a 12 inch skillet and cooked in two batches. remove from the pan and reserve
next saute the onions, garlic and celery in the same pan, reserve with beef
add the stock, bring to a boil and scrape the delicious brown bits in the saute` pan,
put all the above in a 3 quart slow cooker
simmer for 2-3 hours until almost tender
dice the vegetables kinda chunky, mix with salt and pepper and a little oil, roast in the oven at 475 degrees to color a little but not necessarily cook thru, add this to the crock pot along with the beef that and finish cooking till tender. just before serving thicken the cooking liquid with cornstarch and water slurry