Thursday, September 15, 2011
Beginner's Guide To Using Your New Crock Pot or Slow Cooker Pot
In the summer time I use my crock pot even more than I do in the winter time as its just too hot to heat up the oven. You can make just about anything in a crock pot these days such as: Soups, Stews, Main Dish Meats, Desserts, Breads, Cobblers, Vegetables and more. Here are some great tips to help make your crock pot cooking even easier.
#1. Peel and chop the vegetables the night before, cover and keep them refrigerated.
#2. The night before, trim fat from meat and cut meat into the desired sized pieces, cover and refrigerate.
#3. Thaw frozen vegetables and meat in the refrigerator, never thaw at room temperature.
#4. Brown meat according to the recipe directions. You can brown your meat the night before and then refrigerate.
#5. Serve cooked food from your slow cooker or it's removable liner to save on washing extra dishes.
#6. Slow simmering produces a mellow blending of flavors, but whole herbs and spices may give more flavor than usual, while ground herbs and spices may give less flavor.
#7. Remember to remove bay leaves and whole peppercorns before serving food.
#8. Some vegetables, especially onions and carrots, often take longer to cook than meat. Always place them at the bottom of the slow cooker.
#9. To assure even cooking of meat, be sure there is some space between the pieces to allow for circulation of heat and seasonings.
#10. Both regular and quick cooking rice need 4-5 hours to cook on your low setting, on your high setting it will take 3-4 hours so plan ahead. You may prefer to cook the rice on your stove top or in your microwave and then add into your crock pot recipe.
#11. Pasta needs stirring while cooking to prevent it from sticking to one another. It is best to cook the pasta on your stove top until its just tender and then add into your crock pot recipe.
#12. When converting your favorite recipes for the slow cooker, reduce the amount of liquid since the slow cooker lid gives a tight seal and retains steam.
#13. Pour your liquids in last.
#14. Fill your slow cooker at least 1/2 full for the best slow cooking results.
#15. Tender vegetables such as fresh mushrooms, tomatoes or zucchini will only need to be added for the last 45 minutes of cooking time, otherwise you could over cook them.
#16. To prevent milk, cream and sour cream from curdling, add near the end of the cooking time and just heat through.
#17. Coating pot roasts and stew meat with flour helps to thicken the broth as it cooks.
#18. If you have too much liquid in your slow cooker, you can remove the lid and cook on high for the last 25 minutes.
#19. Resist the urge to lift the lid. The heat that you lose will add as much as 30 minutes to the cooking time. If you have to stir, resume timing when the mixture starts to bubble up again.
#20. Cooking for 1 hour on high is the same as 2-2 1/2 hours on low.
#21. After the food has finished cooking, it can usually be held in the slow cooker for an hour on the low setting without over cooking it.
#22. If food is not done within the stated time in your recipe it could be because you overfilled your slow cooker or you took off the lid too many times. Adjust your cooking times accordingly.
#23. Slow cooking at the low setting is better for tenderizing cuts of meats (brisket, pot roasts, etc).
#24. Take time to trim and remove excess fat from your meat before slow cooking to reduce the amount of fat that accumulates during cooking.
#25. You can use a slice of bread to skim off excess fats or you can use a slice of lettuce leaf.
Shelly is a mother and grandmother living in Pennsylvania who enjoys cooking and baking. You can visit Shelly's popular foodie blog called Shakin 'N Bakin in the kitchen at http://wahmshelly.blogspot.com/