There are a lot of different things you need to be aware of when cooking with a slow cooker. Once you start this type of cooking you will want to do it often because it is convenient, delicious, and healthy. When first starting this cooking method, make sure you follow the following crock pot cooker ideas to get the best results. The words slow cooker and crock pot are interchangeable on this website unless Crock Pot is capitalized referring to a brand name.
- The top tip when cooking meat to add extra delicious flavor is to always braise or sear it before placing it in the slow cooker. To braise or sear meet use a flat frying pan and place a small amount of oil or butter in the pan. Heat the pan until butter has melted or oil is hot. Place preseason meat in the pan and brown to a nice caramelized texture on both sides. Meat can be dredged in flour before searing. This will add so much unbelievable delicious flavor to the whole meal. There are a few slow cookers that you can braise inside the slow cooker itself and you don’t need an extra pan. If you think the extra pan will be a lot of extra work, check out these special models.
- Do not lift the lid and stir while cooking. Some recipes will give instructions to stir half way through the cooking or at the very end, which is ok. But do not pick the lid up and stir as you would if cooking on the stove top. The steam forms a vacuum and seals the lid. When this vacuum is broken the cooking slows down and extra cooking time is needed.
- Any fresh herbs should be added the last ten to thirty minutes of cooking. Before adding them drain off any extra liquid or grease that has formed on the top that is undesirable.
- If cooking at a high altitude check the instructions for your individual cooker. Some vary in the amount of time that needs to be added. Some require as much as an extra thirty minutes for each hour of cooking. When cooking beans the time is sometimes doubled.
- The cooker needs to be at least half full but no more than two-thirds full before cooking. This is a standard rule for most slow cookers.
- All of the denser vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots need to be cut into bite size pieces and placed on the bottom of the pot with the meat placed on the top of them. The fresh and tender vegetables need to added the last 30 to 45 minutes and placed on the top of the meat. Make sure the setting is on high for the tender vegetables.
- Any dairy products will break down during a long cooking period. It is best to add these during the last 30 minutes of cooking. To get a cheesy sauce or taste it is best to add grated cheese after removing the meal from the pan and stir it into the dinner.
- Quick cooking tapioca is excellent to use for thickening sauces or gravies.
- It is best to remove any skin from poultry.