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Slow Cooking or Crockpot Recipes

From
Thom's Recipe File

Slow Cooking is Convenient

Opening the front door on a cold winter evening and being greeted by the inviting smells of beef stew or chicken noodle soup wafting from a slow cooker can be a diner's dream come true. But winter is not the only time a slow cooker is useful. In the summer, using this small appliance can avoid introducing heat from a hot oven. At any time of year, a slow cooker can make life a little more convenient because by planning ahead, you save time later. And it takes less electricity to use a slow cooker rather than an oven.

Thaw and Cut Up Ingredients
Always defrost meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker. Choose to make foods with a high moisture content such as chili, soup, stew or spaghetti sauce.

Cut food into chunks or small pieces to ensure thorough cooking. Do not use the slow cooker for large pieces like a roast or whole chicken because the food will cook so slowly it could remain in the bacterial "Danger Zone," between 40 and 140 °F, too long. If using a commercially frozen slow cooker meal, prepare according to manufacturer's instructions.

Use the Right Amount of Food
Fill cooker no less than half full and no more than two-thirds full. Vegetables cook slower than meat and poultry in a slow cooker so if using them, put vegetables in first, at the bottom and around sides of the utensil. Then add meat and cover the food with liquid such as broth, water or barbecue sauce. Keep the lid in place, removing only to stir the food or check for doneness.

Go Easy on the Juice
Because slow cookers work at low temperatures with lids on, there is hardly any liquid lost during cooking. With most cooking methods, the water in meats and vegetables turns to steam and evaporates. But with a slow cooker, there's nowhere for the steam to go--it just collects on the lid and bastes the food. So if you're inventing your own slow cooker recipes or adapting your favorite stovetop and oven recipes for the slow cooker, decrease the amount of liquid you use.

Is Browning Better?
You don’t need to brown meat before cooking it in a slow cooker, but there are advantages to searing meat on the stove first. If you coat meat with flour and seasonings and sear it with a little oil in a hot skillet for a few minutes, it can develop a more complex flavor and appetizing color than it will in the crock. Always brown ground beef or any ground meat before adding it to your slow cooker: otherwise, the meat will clump together, remain an unappealing color, and add lots of grease to the finished product.

Lightly Spice
Whole spices such as bay leaves, peppercorns or cinnamon sticks will give slow cooker items a very intense flavor if left in the pot for the entire cooking time, so use them sparingly. Ground spices as well as fresh and dried herbs, on the other hand, can lose much of their flavor if allowed to simmer for several hours in the slow cooker. It's better to add these items during the last two hours of cooking if you can manage it. Dairy products such as milk, sour cream and cheese also do not hold up well to several hours of simmering. To avoid curdling, wait until the last hour of cooking time to stir in these items. Heavy cream can stand up to heavy cooking.

Sooner or Later
The slow cooker is one of the few cooking methods where you can cut the cooking time by turning up the temperature and still get great results. Food will not burn in a slow cooker because it retains moisture so well, and because the heat is so evenly and gently distributed around the sides as well as the bottom of the pot. If something takes 10 hours on the "low" setting, you can safely cook it for 5 hours on the "high" setting with very similar results.
 

Recipes

• All-Day-Long Crock-Pot Beef
• Asian Pork Tenderloin with Ginger Glaze
• Barbecued Turkey Chili
• Barbecued Beef Chili
• Barbecued Chicken
• Barbecued Sausage Bites
• Beat The Heat Short Rib Stew
• Brunswick Stew - Crockpot Recipe
  (Left Blank)
• Busy Day Beef Stew
• Chalupa
• Chicken Stroganoff
• Chili Verde
• Creamy Crockpot Chicken and Tomato Soup
• Crockpot Beef Bourguigno
• Crockpot Beef Rouladen
• Crockpot Beef Stew
• Crockpot Cacciatore
• Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
• Crockpot Creole Chicken
• Crockpot Pork Chops and Gravy
• Crockpot Pork Posole Stew
  (Left Blank)
• Czech Beef Stew with Gherkins
• Easy Crockpot Beef Stew
• Hearty New England Dinner
• Helen's Bean Soup
• Slow Cooked Rump Roast
• Slow Cooked barbecue Beef
• Slow Cooked Enchiladas
• Slow Cooked Lasagna
• Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
• Slow Cooker Cabbage Rolls
• Slow Cooker Caribbean Beef Stew
• Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo
• Slow Cooker Chicken Stew
• Slow Cooker Chili
• Slow Cooker Chorizo, Potato, and Two Bean Chili
• Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken
• Slow Cooker Ham in Cider Gravy
• Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup
• Slow Cooker Mississippi Pot Roast
• Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder
• Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
• Slow Cooker Tri Tips Beef with Mashed Potatoes
• Slow Simmered Stroganoff
• Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup
• Southwestern Stew
• Stewed Chicken Thighs
• Super Saucy Chicken Over Angel Hair Pasta
• Sweet 'n' Sour Ribs
• Tangy Barbecue Wings
• The Best Chili On Earth

 

Crockpot Tips

• Buy the biggest slow cooker you can get (e.g., a six-quart), so you can make enough for leftovers. I freeze leftovers in a plastic bag, then just dunk that in water to defrost, or microwave. My favorite is the slow cooker that Michael Graves did for Target. It's the cutest thing. Also, less is more — you don't need all the fancy programmable stuff.

• Get your teenagers to use it — this is a way to get them into the kitchen. It's straightforward and safe.

• Take the time to braise the meat ahead of time. It really makes a difference; the food will be much more attractive and it will taste better.

• Don't put mushy stuff like rice on the bottom — it'll become more like porridge. Meats or vegetables are better on the bottom.

• If you end up with more cooking liquid than you want at the end, empty it into a saucepan and reduce it. Don't add salt until the very end.

• The marriage of the slow cooker and the immersion blender was made in heaven. Put vegetables in a slow cooker, for example, and just before serving, use the blender to purιe them right in the cooker.

• The slow cooker is a good place to make fillings for other things, like pizza or calzones. Buy frozen pizza dough in the supermarket and put in your homemade filling.

• Any recipe that involves braising or stewing can be adapted to the slow cooker. Be careful with fish, though, because it could fall apart. Don't add as much liquid as a recipe calls for; try cutting the liquid in half. And don't salt ahead of time.

• Try cooking at night rather than letting it go all day. Then you have the option of checking on it in the morning to see if it's done. Once it cools, put it in the refrigerator, and when you're ready to eat, heat it up — it's actually better.
 
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