If you are among those who are trying to get away from today’s convenience and preservative-laden fast foods, it is time to start utilizing a slow cooker. A slow cooker can help you save time in this fast paced life. It helps you to prepare a meal at some convenient time during the day or before you go to work. The cooking meal can be left to cook at low temperature slowly without having to attend to it. The meal is prepared at the convenient time so that you will have a ready meal during your regular dinner time.
A slow cooker essentially ensures that you do not get stuck doing labor intensive tasks over the stove after work. You find that at the end of the day you are tired and hungry, it saves you the hassles that are involved in putting a plate on the table. It frees you to do other things while food is cooking slowly. You can actually put your ingredients in your slow cooker, go to work and your food will be ready and be waiting for you when you get home after work in the evening.
What is a slow Cooker?
A slow cooker is just a simple electric appliance or perhaps a tightly covered pot that is used to cook food at relatively lower temperatures for a long period of time. A slow cooker is also referred to as a crock-pot in different regions.
Many people think that slow cooker pot recipes are limited to soups and stews. The truth is any recipe can be cooked in a crock-pot. You find that there are a lot of recipes abound these days, especially on the internet and to get them you just need to search for the name of the traditional dish followed by the slow cooker recipe. Below are a few tips that will help you maximize your cooking on a slow cooker and ensure a mouth-watering meal every time.
10 Tips for Slow-Cooker Meals
1. Fill the slow cooker between a half and two halves full of food
When you put food too full on a slow cooker, it might cook or heat up quickly enough. Likewise, a cooker that is not loaded enough might not heat up properly either. Use the appropriate size of crock-pot for the recipe.
2. Don’t lift the lid, whenever possible
Slow cooker temperatures are usually low and a lot of heat can be lost when you open the lid, this might lower the cooking temperature to an unsafe point. Use the lid which is provided with the cooker and avoid lifting it unnecessarily. A layer of aluminum foil might not be able to suffice the pot well for those who prefer using it.
3. Use recipes that are designed specifically for slow cookers
If you want to convert a traditional meal recipe into a crock pot recipe, you will need to follow some rules. For instance, unless you want to make soup, you will typically have to reduce the amount of liquid you add. This is because a slow cooker retains a lot of moisture, you can end up with more liquid when you finish cooking than you had when you began and this can dilute the flavors of your meal.
4. Follow the recipe strictly adding the listed ingredients in their order
Foods that take a long duration of time to cook are usually placed first in the slow cooker. They go to the bottom. Also, you find that some recipes, such as vegetables and other foods on the bottom may act as a rack, preventing top foods from the juices.
5. Some recipe might need browning before you put them in a slow cooker
It is important to ensure that you go through the recipe so that you can determine what is required while you are planning a meal. Look for recipes that do not require precooking in the busy mornings to save on time. Many recipes that require browning before they are put in the slow cooker can be cooked successfully without having to brown them.
6. Tenderness of meat is directly proportional to cooking time
A longer cooking time ensures that your meal is tender as much as possible. So the cooking time that you give to your meat makes it tender in proportion to its cooking time, as long as it is not cooked to the falling apart stage. The difference that can be accredited to a tough meat and a tender meat is about one hour. When you check your meat and find that it is not tender, you can allow it to cook for another hour and check it again.
7. Assemble the recipe the night before
To save time it is important to ensure that you prepare the recipe of the food that you want to cook the previous evening. Next morning, you just have to place it into the cooker and plug it on. In a situation where you are preparing the recipe in the evening, you do not need to use foods that need to be precooked.
8. Cut vegetable in small pieces
Unless you prefer crispy vegetables, make sure you cut them into very small pieces. Put carrots, potatoes and other types of roots vegetables on the bottom or perhaps against the sides of the pot. Putting them on the bottom or on the sides will ensure that they get maximum heat. If you prefer sautéing onions before adding them, go ahead and do it if you prefer this taste.
9. Experiment with fresh herbs
You can consider using fresh herbs in place of dried herbs to your recipe to enhance the taste of your meal. It is good to consider using fresh herbs instead of using other things that add more savory flavor to a meal. Thyme and rosemary taste are delightful, especially on pot roast meat. Experiment and find out what works with your taste buds.
10. Do not refrigerate food In the crock pot
Last but not least, if you finish cooking do not leave the food in the slow cooker because the heat in the crock will delay cooling and keep the food at unsafe temperatures. Transfer the food as quick as possible to storage containers and refrigerate it, if necessary.