Slow and steady wins the taste
Slow cooker recipes take the guesswork out of dinner. Plan ahead and come home to the tantalizing aroma of a slow cooker meal.
With the busy holiday season behind us and a new year ahead, now’s the perfect time to embrace the slow cooker. With a little planning and minimal effort, slow cooker recipes reward us with a warm, hearty, welcome-home-at-the-end-of-a-long-day meal sure to take the chill off any cold winter’s evening. Besides not having to attentively watch or stir your meal, another advantage of slow cookers is that you don’t need to add much, if any, additional oil or fat before cooking. The lower temperatures and moist atmosphere lessen the chance of scorching foods that tend to stick to the bottom of a saucepan or burn in an oven. It’s important to remove any skin or fat from meats. As the cooking liquid is usually part of the meal, by skipping this step you risk ending up with an oily film on your finished dish. While the slow cooker is well known for its ability to turn tough vegetables and cuts of meat meltingly tender, it also can be used for desserts in which moist heat baking is best, such as cheesecakes and custards.
One of the best parts about using a slow cooker is just how simple it is. Prep ingredients, add them to your slow cooker, and press start. However, to take your slow cooker recipe from good to great, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.
Slow cookers come in a range of sizes. It’s important to use the size recommended in each recipe. To ensure proper cooking, you don’t want your slow cooker overflowing or underfilled. As a general rule of thumb, the slow cooker insert should be no more than two-thirds full.
Opening a slow cooker during operation lets heat escape and can significantly slow down the cooking process.
For quick and efficient recipe assembly, a little planning goes a long way. The night before, cut vegetables and meats, measure out ingredients, and stir together sauces. Refrigerate components separately overnight. In the morning, warm any chilled sauces just until they start to simmer, add ingredients to slow cooker, cover, and dinner is practically done!
For all its convenience, it’s important with slow cooking, as with all cooking methods, to keep food safety in mind. Between 40 F (4 C) to 140 F (60 C) is referred to as the danger zone. Between these temperatures, bacteria love to flourish. Once cooking is complete, the warming setting on your slow cooker will keep the temperature of your meal well above the danger zone until ready to eat.