Crockpot Cooking Basics
As with conventional cooking recipes, slow cooker recipe time ranges are provided to account for variables such as temperature of ingredients before cooking, how full the crockpot is and even altitude. Once you become familiar with your crockpot you’ll have a good idea which end of the time range to use.
Manufactures recommend that slow cookers should be one-half to three-quarters full for best results. Keep a lid on it! The slow cooker can take as long as twenty minutes to regain the heat lost when the cover is removed. If the recipe calls for stirring or checking the dish near the end of the cooking time, replace the lid as quickly as you can.
To clean your crockpot, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. To make cleanup even easier, spray with nonstick cooking spray before adding food. Always taste the finished dish before serving and adjust seasonings to your preference. Consider adding a dash of any of the following: salt, pepper, seasoned salt, seasoned herb blends, lemon juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, flavored vinegar, freshly ground pepper or minced fresh herbs.
Crock Pot Cooking
Cutting Your Vegetables: Vegetables often take longer to cook than meats. Cut vegetables into small, thin pieces and place them on the bottom or near the sides of the slow cooker. Pay careful attention to the recipe instructions in order to cut vegetables to the proper size.
Selecting the Right Meat: A good tip to keep in mind while shopping is that you can, and in fact should, use tougher, inexpensive cuts of meat. Top quality cuts, such as loin chops or filet mignon, fall apart during long cooking periods. Keep those for roasting, broiling or grilling and save money when you use your crockpot. You will be amazed to find even the toughest cuts come out fork-tender and flavorful.
Reducing Fat: The slow cooker can help you make meals lower in fat because you won’t be cooking in fat as you do when you stir-fry and saute. And tougher cuts of meat have less fat than prime cuts. Many recipes contain less than 30% calories from fat. If you do use fatty cuts, such as ribs, consider browning them first on top of the range to cook off excess fat.
Adjusting Recipes for Crockpot Cooking
|If Recipe Says||Cook on Low or||Cook on High|
|15 to 30 minutes||4 to 6 hours||1 ½ to 2 hours|
|35 to 45 minutes||6 to 10 hours||3 to 4 hours|
|50 minutes to 3 hours||8 to 18 hours||4 to 6 hours|
Most uncooked meat and vegetable combinations will require at least 8 hours on LOW.