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Tips for Using a Slow Cooker

Jul 17, 2012 11:46PM ● By Anonymous


Sometimes it's for something as easy as cooking a pork roast long and slow for carnitas, but with the temperatures poised to reach 100 degress - AGAIN -- this week, that's a lot of heat I'd rather not have in my house.


But there's a right way and a wrong way to use your slow cooker. Add certain ingredients at the beginning, and they'll be mushy. Add too much liquid, and it will be a soupy mess! Here are a few tips to make sure your winter meal turns out right:

1. In the beginning ... add root vegetables, onions, and hearty vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, as well as dried herbs and cuts of meat the require low, slow cooking such as beef and pork roasts.

2. At the end ... add the softer vegetables such as peas, corn, bell pepper, and spinach so it doesn't get overcooked. Other items to add at the end include seafood, grains, and dairy products.

3. During prep ... Cut all the vegetables and meats to the same size to ensure even cooking.

4. Use less liquid than you think you need. It might seem strange to put a whole chicken in the slow-cooker without any liquid, but the chicken will quickly give out the liquid it needs to cook the moist bird. Because there isn't any evaporation in a slow-cooker like there would be if you cooked the dish on the stove, any liquid you put in the pot will stay there.

5. Do you need to brown the meat? Some recipes will call for browning the meat on the stove before putting it in the slow cooker. If you're in a rush, you won't ruin the recipe by skipping this step. However, it can add a little something extra to your meat dishes.