Posted on May 25 2022
A slow cooker makes the ideal option for preparing foods while away at work, but it also comes in handy when at home. The following tips can help you get the most out of this inexpensive kitchen tool, whether you're cooking for one person or a large family.
Cook Cheaper Proteins
While better cuts of meat are desirable, budgets sometimes don't allow them. Luckily, a slow cooker imparts flavor and tenderizes tougher meat portions. Buy cheaper proteins like chicken thighs, or lamb or pork shoulder, and turn them into tasty dinners for the whole family.
Use Less Fat
Remember the adage that fat equals flavor? Unfortunately, it can also add inches to the waistline. However, this cooking tool prepares leaner foods without sacrificing taste because you can remove fats from meats beforehand. Unlike regular frying pans, a slow cooker won't drain fat away. Since slow-cooked foods retain moisture and don't stick, you won't need to add cooking oil either.
Cook Everything at Once
One of the most difficult parts of cooking is trying to figure out in which order to add foods. That's because meat and poultry products have to reach certain temperatures before they're safe to eat, which differ according to category. Most vegetables don't have heat requirements, but their best outcomes depend on proper preparation.
A slow cooker can alleviate these issues because you add the ingredients at once, except for rice, pasta and fresh herbs. As long as the meat reaches its required internal temperature, you can't fail. When using root vegetables, place them at the bottom of the cooker. That's because they take longer to cook than other ingredients, and the heat originates from the bottom.
Easily Convert Standard Recipes
To convert typical recipes, follow these three steps: use less liquid, roll meat in flour, and use the low-cook setting. If regular cooking instructions call for liquids, such as broth or stock, reduce the fluid quantity by approximately one-third. That's because liquid doesn't evaporate in a vessel with a tight lid. When short on preparation time, use just enough to barely cover the food.
Add Flour to Meat
When you add flour to meat before cooking, it helps to thicken the liquid while avoiding undesirable clumps. For extra flavor, add seasonings to the flour. The low heat setting allows more flavor to develop. Just remember to leave the lid on so that heat won't escape, which would increase the cooking time.
Prepare the Night Before
When you're in a hurry in the morning, put all the ingredients into the slow cooker the night before. Cover the dish and place it in the refrigerator until cooking time. Once you're ready, take the cooker out, and let it warm up to room temperature. Try to wait at least 20 minutes before turning it on. If space in the refrigerator is a problem, you can of course store the ingredients in a separate container before cooking them.
You can also prep many family meals at once ahead of time and place them in your freezer. Vacuum seal your meals and pop them out when it's time to cook. Allow them to thaw then just pour them into your slow cooker. This makes dinner as easy as possible on the nights you are super busy.
Easy Clean Up
Use turkey bags inside your slow cooker for easy clean up after your meal. Just toss the bag and no scrubbing is needed. (FoodVacBags turkey bags fit best in small to medium sized slow cookers.)
When you use these easy tips, there's really no need to overlook slow cookers. They might even become a new favorite kitchen staple.