5 Crock Pot Tips and Tricks to Use This Winter
The Crock Pot or the slow cooker is your best friend in the kitchen. It’s perfect for busy families who want a delicious home-cooked meal without all of the effort. There are some common mistakes that chefs make all the time. Up your slow cooker game by using these 5 tips and tricks!
- Preheat Your Crock Pot: Think of your crock pot like a miniature oven. You usually preheat your oven before you put your food in that you wish to cook. This will change how long the food is exposed to the correct temperature, giving you a better result at the end. If you’re wondering how long to preheat for, roughly 20 minutes is enough time for the elements to heat up and make the entire pot a universal temperature. As you are putting food in the pot, be careful not to touch the edges to avoid burns.
- Start with Room Temperature Meat: You don’t want to put frozen foods in the crock pot. That’s not the time to thaw your meat. Will it do the job? Yes, but your cook time has now been altered. Recipes are intended to start with meat that has been warmed to a standing room temperature. This will allow for a more thorough cook, and avoid the interior from being slow to warm up and the exterior over cooked.
- Only Use Ingredients You Would Eat Solo: Many recipes call for cooking wines or creams. You still want to use quality wines and bases. Don’t clear out the fridge by using old wine or dairy. Those products still go over the food that you will be eating, even if you won’t drink them alone.
- What To Do With Too Much Liquid: You added in the set amount of liquid for the ingredients to cook, but now there is even more liquid from the meat and vegetables from cooking down. You don’t want to serve a soggy dish, so cook some of it down into a sauce. Ladle out excess liquid into a saucepan. Set it on simmer and keep stirring until the juices have cooked down. If you want to make it even thicker, you can make a roux and add it into the mix.
- The Fix for Mushy Vegetables: We’ve all been there. You have a fantastically finished roast, surrounded by extremely overcooked veggies. You can either toss them and sautee up some new vegetables to serve, or you can get creative. Remove the roast, and take all of the dripping and mushy vegetables, and put it in a food processor. Pulse the blender until the vegetables are in a puree. Add wine, herbs, bouillon, and simmer to create a vegetable sauce to serve over the meat.
Add extra pizazz to your table by browning the meat first in a pan or in the oven. You can also try braising your meats instead of simmering them. The crock pot doesn’t require everything to be submerged in water to cook. It is hot enough that the juices released from the meats will steam the dish and cook it perfectly. Enjoy all of the different ways to use your slow cooker this winter.