I have always been open about my love for my crock-pot. I had a jaw dropping moment recently when I found out several people I know don’t even own a crock-pot or have never used one. Seriously people? My crock-pot is essential on my super busy days when I won’t get home until late and don’t want to fuss with dinner and don’t what to succumb to the dreaded fast food line.
So today I am sharing some crock-pot cooking tips and tricks (and of course a whole slew of delectable crock-pot recipes) in an article that I actually wrote some time ago for meal planing/recipe site Food on the Table. So lets get slow cookin’!
Your crock pot or slow cooker is one of the best time and money saving appliances in the kitchen. Cooking with a slow cooker is great for beginner cooks or individuals with busy schedules. For most slow cooker recipes, all you have to do is put the ingredients in the cooker, turn it on and hours later dinner will be ready!
Since the slow cooker typically cooks meats in a liquid over a long period of time, it is great to use for the cheaper and ‘tougher’ cuts of meat. Due to this cooking process the end result of the meat will be tender, rich and flavorful.
To make sure you are getting the most from your slow cooker follow these simple tips:
Purchasing a slow cooker. When buying a slow cooker look for one with a removable liner. This makes clean up easier since the liner is dishwasher safe. If you already own a slow cooker without a liner, use disposable cooking bags. These bags are inexpensive, and allow you to throw out the used bag after your dinner is ready!
Prepping your food. Remove skin from poultry, and trim excess fat from meat. Fats melt with long cooking times and too much fat will result in a greasy and unpleasant texture in the final meal. Also, most meats do not need to be browned before adding to the slow cooker. However, browning your meat or poultry in a skillet before adding them to the cooker will add color and give the meat a more developed texture and taste. For best results, ground meat should definitely be precooked before adding to the slow cooker. Ground meats may develop an unappetizing gray color and chewy texture if not pre-cooked.
Layer appropriately. Most vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, and bell peppers take longer to cook than meat and should be placed at the bottom of the slow cooker. However, tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini should be added during the last 45 minutes of cooking time so they don’t overcook.
And whatever you do, don’t peak! Don’t lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting, unless the recipe calls for it. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time will need to be extended by 20 minutes!
Since I love my crock-pot so much it was hard selecting just a *few* crock-pot recipes to feature with this article. Here are some of my top faves that I am currently drooling over.
Crock-pot Pizza Soup (Kitchen Concoctions)
Slow Cooker Chicken Fettuccine (Taste and Tell Blog)
Classic Red Beans and Rice (Kitchen Concoctions)
Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Pudding Cake (Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
Texas Style Chili (Kitchen Concoctions)
Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken (Real Mom Kitchen)
Buffalo Chicken Lasagna (Kitchen Concoctions)
Joyful Almond Oatmeal Recipe (Apron Strings)
What is your favorite crock-pot recipe? Do share!