8 Tips for Slow Cooker Success
- Don’t over fill your slow cooker. 2/3 full is the optimal capacity for most recipes and to avoid potential food-safety hazards. The heat does need to circulate, give it room to do so.
- Keep the lid down. As hard as it is, you should not lift the lid while cooking. It is soon tempting to lift the lid and take a huge smell of the wafting goodness but don’t. Just don’t. You will be prolonging your cooking time and potentially damaging your final results every time you lift the lid. About 30 minutes before the end of cooking time it is better to check for doneness.
- Don’t fill your crockpot insert at night and store it filled in the refrigerator. Placing a cold insert filled with cold ingredients can effect the cooking time and create potential food safety issue. Plus, placing a cold insert in a high heated pot could damage the insert. It is better to store your ingredients in separate containers and layer them in the insert in the morning.
- Boost your flavors. If you have a few extra minutes, browning your meats in a separate pan, then deglazing with some of the simmering liquids will bring rich, full flavor to your dish. I have an example of what this should look like in this video I did for Kraft Recipe Makers.
- The right cut. Choose the right cut of meat. The slow cooker is not the right appliance to cook your filet or your trimmed cuts of meats. The fattier, darker, tougher cuts of meats give off their best flavors and textures in a slow cooker.
- Layer for flavor. Place root vegetables on the bottom with meats on top. The meat will baste the vegetables with flavor as the whole dish cooks.
- Add a bit of fresh. Just before serving add a sprinkle of parsley, squeeze of lemon juice or grate of cheese to your dish to help balance the rich flavors. Also don’t add dairy until the last 15 minutes of cooking. Dairy tends to break down when exposed to long periods of heat. Nothing will ruin your slow cooked goodness than curdled diary so, wait till the last 15 minutes to add your dairy.
- Don’t forget to turn it on. If you forget to turn on or plug in the crock pot and leave for the day there is no saving it. Throw it out and pull out the take out menu!
Looking for some slow cooker recipes to add to your collection? Check out these:
- Crockpot Chicken Corn Soup
- Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Crockpot Hashbrown, Sausage, Egg & Cheese Casserole
- Crockpot Lasagna
published October 17, 2014