The new Slow Cooker/Crock pots are designed to bring ingredients up to cooking temperature quickly. They are easier to use than “your Mama’s” crockpot. They have special features and most are inexpensive. I started with a crockpot almost 30 years ago that was a nightmare to wash. The best update was made when the manufacturers made crock inserts to be removeable and dishwasher safe.
Slow cooking/crock pots retain most of the moisture in foods. It is a great method to retain the nutritional value in foods.
Do not be afraid to try crockpot cooking especially if you are a Mom (or Dad) who works outside of the home (although Mom’s who work inside the home benefit from using crockpot cooking too!). Just remember to use some basic tips I have included below and you’ll be on your way to Crock pottery nirvana!
- Some ingredients are not suitable for slow-cookers.
- Pasta, seafood, milk, cream or sour cream-add these ingredients 2 hours before serving.
- Evaporated Milk or condensed cream of something soup (better known as the “secret ingredient in my house!”) are perfect for the slow cooker.
- Remember MANY things can affect how quickly a certain recipe will cook and different models and makers will cause your recipe to cook differently.
- Things that affect your recipe are:
- The water & fat content of a food
- The temperature of the food
- The size of the protein or other ingredients
- Food cut into pieces will cook faster than whole roasts or whole poultry.
- Most meat, poultry & veggie combinations require at LEAST 7 HOURS on LOW.
- The higher the fat content of the protein the less liquid is needed.
- If your protein has a high fat content, set veggie slices such as onions, celeries or carrots in the bottom of the insert and place your protein on top so it doesn’t sit and cook in fat.
- Crock pots allow very little liquid evaporation to take place during the cooking process.
- If making a favorite sauce, stew or soup recipe reduce the liquid or water called for in the original recipe by 1/3, more liquid can always be added later if needed.
- If you are adapting a veggie casserole you’ll need to have some liquid such as wine, broth or stock in the recipe to prevent scroching on the sides of the insert.
- Do not remove the lid unnecessarily, this causes undue major heat loss- the lid fits loosely so try to center it on the crock lip.
- Stirring is not necessary when slow cooking on LOW, however when using the HIGH setting stir occasionally.
- Since slow cooking reatins much of the moisture in foods, if too much moisture is generated during the cooking process:
- at the end of the cooking time, remove the the lid/cover.
- turn the control knob to High and reduce the liquid by simmering
- This will take as long as 35-45 minutes so plan approriately.
- During this process resist the tempation to re-season, this process will concentrate the flavors and if you re-season at this point you may end up with a salty result!
- Your insert should be at least half-full for best results.
- If only half-full check for doneness 1-2 hours earlier than the recipe states.
- If you are cooking stews or soups, leave a 2″ space between the top of the Crock and the food so the recipe can properly come to a simmer.
- If your morning schedule doesn’t allow time to prepare meals for the crock pot, Do it the night before!
- Place all the ingredients in the insert, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- I use frozen meat in my crock pot, add at least 1 hour of cooking time.
- Pre-heat crocks for when using frozen meat.
- Be careful when using skinless boneless chicken breast, over-cooking can cause white chicken meat to become dry and mealy.
- When transporting foods in the car take several thick rubber bands and loop around the handles, stretch to the knob on the lid, this will keep the lid in place dring transport.
ARROZ CON POLLO- oval or round 5 qt slow cooker
1 (3-4 pound) chicken cut into pieces- can debone chicken pieces if you prefer
1 (14.5 oz) can of italian-style stewed tomatoes
10 oz. or 1 1/2 cup frozen peas
1 (14 oz.) chicken broth
3/4 cups roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
1 (8 oz) box of rice-a-roni spanish flavor or your favorited brand
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in crock insert. Cover and cook LOW-8 hours or HIGH 4 hours.
CROCK “ROASTED” CHICKEN- 5 Quart oval slow cooker
1 (16 oz) bag of veggies- mixed or your favorite.
1 (1.5 oz) envelope beef stroganoff sauce mix
1 (3-4 lb) whole chicken
1/2 tsp. each paprika, onion powder, garlic powder.
OR 2 teaspoon seasoned salt
Combine veggies and sauce mix in crock insert. Sprinkle seasonings over top of the whole chicken.
Place chicken over the veggies. Cover & cook : LOW-8 hours or HIGH:4 hours
I will be posting more Crock Pot recipes.