Slow Cooker Recipes – Tips for Good Results
Slow cooker recipes can be found everywhere. Choosing them is extremely easy because the cookers are so versatile. Don’t underestimate the value of this wonderful kitchen appliance. If you are among those who think they are only good for making soups and stews; let me assure you they can do so much more.
Tips for Making the Most of your Slow Cooker Recipes
- A slow cooker will not brown meat – The temperature is too low. The meat will be cooked completely (temperature reaches 190º F.) but not have that golden glaze that is characteristic of browning meat in a pan. If you want to have the look and flavor of browned meat, brown it in a skillet before adding it to the cooker.
- Choose your meat wisely and save money – Because the cooking process takes at least four hours (HIGH setting), you do not have to buy the tender (and expensive) cuts of meat. The juices tenderize the meat as it cooks.
- Use fresh herbs – The slow heating process will bring out the essence from the herbs to enhance the flavor of your food.
- Some veggies take longer to cook – Root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and turnips take longer to break down and soften when cooking. For even cooking of all the ingredients it is better to place these veggies on the bottom closest to the heat.
- Cut up or dice your vegetables in closely-sized pieces – This ensures that everything will be cooked thoroughly. The main idea behind slow cooking is slow even cooking.
- Thicken sauces during the last 30 minutes of cooking – If you want to thicken your sauce, stew broth, or soup stock, add your thickener (flour or cornstarch) during the last half hour of cooking and turn the temperature control up to HIGH. Remove the lid since cooking is basically finished.
- Do not fill the cooker completely full – It will be harder to reach a steady simmer if the pot is full. Leave at least one-third to one-half of the pot empty.
- Remove fat before cooking – To reduce the amount of fat in a recipe, eliminate as much as possible before you start cooking. Skin raw poultry and remove excess fat. Trim the fat from beef, pork chops, etc.
- Thaw meat before cooking in the slow cooker – Frozen meat may not reach the appropriate cooking temperature in the time allotted for cooking.
- Frozen vegetables do not have to be thawed – They can be added 30 minutes before the end of cooking time.
- Peeking is not allowed – Constantly lifting the lid during cooking can increase your cooking time. When you lift the lid you lower the temperature and interrupt the simmer – so resist the temptation to “check it out.”
Now that you know what can be cooked in the slow cooker and how to cook the different foods, it is time to find new recipes and use it more frequently than your stove. In other words – use it whenever possible.