Slow Cooking Made Simple
Using your slow cooker is one of the best-kept time-saving secrets of mealtime preparation! These tips will help you make recipes their slow-simmered best!
Slow Cooker Chunky Chicken Chili (recipe on left)
- Just as ovens cook differently, so do slow cookers. Some slow cookers may have hotter heating units, and those with auto-shift cook faster. Some come with removable crocks; other do not. For best results, be sure the slow cooker is between one-half and three-fourths full of food.
- Before adding food to the slow cooker, spray the inside of it with cooking spray so the cooked food will release easily. you can also purchase a slow cooker with a non-stick interior.
- Root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, take longer to cook, so cut them into smaller pieces and place in the bottom of the slow cooker for best results.
- For food safety reasons, always cook and drain ground meats before adding them to the slow cooker. Browning large cuts of meat (roasts, chops) and poultry, although no necessary, can enhance the flavor and appearance of the finished dish.
Watching the Clock
- To shorten the cook time, turn the slow cooker to hight for 1 hour, which counts as 2 hours on low.
- Slow cookers offer flexibility. Cooked food can be held up to an hour on the low seeing without overcooking.
- For food-safety reasons, slow cooker recipes containing raw poultry or beef should cook a minimum of 3 hours. Do not cook whole chickens in the slow cooker because the temperature of the chicken cannot reach the desired level quickly enough for food safety.
- Small is not always faster. Baby carrots, for example, take longer than some other veggies. Be sure to test for doneness.
- Tender vegetables, such as fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini, should be added the last 30 minutes to prevent over cooking.
- Removing the lid of the slow cooker can delay the cooking time by 15 to 20 minutes. Try spinning the lid until vapors fall off so you can see inside rather than removing the lid. When you do have an impulse to stir, lift the lid slightly just so you can get the spoon in.