A possible indoor alternative to the traditional outdoor barbecue.
I personally have no doubts that the Rival Crock Pot slow cooker long ago became a 'must-have'
appliance for many North American household kitchens, however I truly believe that most loyal, avid crock pot users are probably not terribly aware of one of the more recent Rival Corporation innovations, the Rival Crock Pot BBQ Pit. Considering the unusual nature of this new appliance - it is being marketed as an indoor alternative to the traditional outdoor barbecue after all - I am not at all surprised that it brings with it something of a learning curve, and should probably not be used right out of the box with at least a percursory browsing of the included instruction manual. I have not personally conceived of any likely circumstance which would compel a Crock Pot BBQ user to abandon the included meat rack, but I found that it really worked well and that you will fare better by using it than by cooking without it since you might find that the results without the included rack are more stew-like in nature. Another thing that I have found is that you will probably have better results with any meats that you choose to cook if you make the effort to dry them out a little before you cook them.
After trying out the Crock-Pot BBQ Pit a few times I found that, like most other kitchen appliances, it has a number of design highlights and weaknesses.
The counter-top design of the BBQ Pit is an obvious major plus. This design makes the appliance very accessible and makes the concept of indoor barbecuing even more appealing since it is giving a possible novice bbq cook the option of being able to practice barbecue-style cooking right there on their counter. And really, isn't that what this appliance is all about? Isn't it marketing the idea of being able to easily, and with minimal effort, bring an outdoor tradition and practice indoors - at least to some degree? Another plus would be the aforementioned included meat rack which can be adjusted to two different positions which you choose depending on whether you are likely going to be slow cooking something like ribs, steaks, chicken or something else. One other feature of the Crock Pot BBQ Pit's design that I really liked is that the stoneware liner insert is not only easily removable (like with all Rival Crock Pots) but that it is also claimed to be both oven and dishwasher safe. That is something that cannot help but make such an appliance more versatile and appealing to the consumer. To be honest, I believe that Rival has been making a concerted effort to introduce these features into a number of its more recent slow cooker offerings.
Of course I also mentioned that the BBQ Pit has some inherent design flaws or at least weaknesses. I am aware that the Crock Pot BBQ is being marketed as a viable indoor alternative to an outside barbeque, and in order for it to fulfill that function it would likely have to be of some size to adequately achieve its goal. However this is an appliance that will require some serious space on your kitchen counter when it is being used and when not in use you would likely want to store it somewhere out of the way, and if you are at all strapped for space in your household then this could be a potential problem. Another weakness of the appliance - although to be fair this may just be the nature of the beast, is with the stoneware insert, or to be more precise, how dirty or messy the insert surface can get from burned on foods after cooking and how difficult it can be to clean it all off afterwards. It is not a problem to get it clean if you use the dishwasher, but if your dishwasher is modest in size then you might not be able to fit the stoneware insert into it. If you find yourself in the situation of hand cleaning the oversized insert, one thing you can try is to clean the insert with a paste of baking soda and water - an effective, yet less abrasive solution. I have read that if you coat the insert with spray cooking oil then it might make clean up afterwards easier. Anything else? Well, there is one more thing that I consider to be something of a drawback with the appliance; there are no external handles on the outside of the heating unit, and this can make for an awkward situation if you should decide that you actually need to move the BBQ once it gets hot. Because of this you need to be sure that it is okay for it to stay where it is before you get going.
The Crock Pot BBQ unit measures about 20 inches by 16 inches so as I made reference to earlier, you will find that it takes up a fair bit of your kitchen's counter space. I suppose that in some way, this actually contributes to a feeling that by using a larger sized appliance, that you are in some sense really somehow preparing something authentic. However, I do not really foresee many regular barbecue enthusiasts adopting this method of barbecuing when their traditional outdoor propane or charcoal bbq grill is an available option. But because of the Rival Corporation's successful track record with slow cooker appliances It will be interesting to see how strongly the new Rival Crock Pot BBQ Pit catches on with Crock Pot fans in particular and consumers in general.