Always preheat the cooker, pour water up to two-third, use wine, cook in the low setting, & add gingerbread to get a juicy texture.
Using a slow cooker to prepare delicate dishes requires patience & effective methods. Otherwise, you may end up opening the cooker’s lid only to find the sloppy, mashed foods.
The slow cooker has become popular in recent decades because of its low cost. People often call it Crockpot. It saves time, money & prepares delicious meals. If you are that person who prefers budget ingredients, then the slow cooker is the perfect choice for you. The food you cook with a slow cooker offers low fat & healthy eats.
Hop on board as we discuss eleven slow cooker tips to take your cooking to the next level.
1. Always Preheat
Selecting the ingredients & throwing them all in the slow cooker won’t assure a good meal. Most people skip this process. But it’s crucial to preheat your slow cooker if you want to cook the perfect meal successfully.
Even if you don’t remember doing it, you should try to follow this in your future cooking. Before putting the ingredients into the slow cooker, you need to assemble them. However, you can turn on the stove & preheat the slow cooker while preparing the components.
The slow cooker is a small oven & you need to preheat only for 15 – 20 minutes before using it. This simple step can enhance the taste of your dish.
2. Apply Drinkable Wine
Using wine to cook has been in tradition for centuries. Wines enhance the taste of the dish prepared with meat. It also enhances our subtle taste buds so we can enjoy the delicious dishes.
The same applies when cooking in the slow cooker. Most people often add wines to the meat that they don’t drink. Some even use turned wine. However, by doing so, you raise the uncertainty bar of the dishes’ tastes.
The use of turned wine deteriorates the food quality because a slow cooker takes a longer time to cook.
Again, the low-alcohol wines don’t increase the flavor or juiciness. Instead, it makes the meat dry & hard.
You can use wines that are high in alcohol content. These wines create nuance & a tender chilling flavor to the meat. If the dish is a braised cooked one, the subtlety of the taste increases tremendously.
3. Don’t Leave The Tiny Brown Bits
After you have finished cooking in the slow cooker, it’s common to have some morsels stuck to the oven. Especially after you have cooked entire meals like a thanksgiving meal.
If you decide to leave those little bites behind, you are making a mistake. First, these are caramelized meat bits loaded with aroma & flavor. So, you are depriving yourself of great taste & flavor.
Again, if you leave these tiny bits on the cooker, they will get stuck on the surface. It will be difficult for you to clean these afterward. Besides, chances are bacteria will grow in the cooker if not cleaned in time.
The reason for bacteria’s growth is the warm environment & slow cooling time. So be aware of such hazards.
However, there’s a simple way to mitigate these risks & give you a treat by collecting these morsels. Deglaze the pot with wine or water so those tiny brown meats will dissolve & impart a sweet aromatic flavor. You can also use a wooden spatula or spoon to collect them all.
After deglazing, cook in medium heat for a while and you will have a lovely assortment of sauces!
4. Don’t Forget The Gingersnap Cookies
There are many ways to cook lamb, pork, beef & chickens. However, the taste becomes alive if cooked in a slow cooker. You can enhance the flavor even more by adding gingerbreads or gingersnap cookies to your meat.
Experts often prefer adding gingerbread to dishes like sauerbraten, pork roast & beef stew. The main reason for adding gingerbreads to these dishes is to impart a juicy texture & flavoring the sauce more.
5. Use Room Temperature Meat
Meat tastes a lot better if cooked with a slow cooker. That said, you need to prepare the meat accordingly. Now, you may wonder what meat preparation means?
Preparing meat means putting the brown meat in the slow cooker for cooking. The experts always forbid the use of cold meat. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t use cold meats directly. First, you make the dish dry and miss the meat’s natural juiciness & caramels. Again, cold meats increase cooking time significantly.
So, if you have a limited time or in a hurry, cold meat can ruin your setup.
Before putting your meat into the device, make sure it is brown. Keeping the meat at room temperature & allowing it to relax for a while is pivotal for a perfect dish. That said, let the meat rest a bit to get more relaxed.
Some even suggest roasting the meat at 400℃ until it’s brown to make some amazing gourmet meat.
6. Crushed Tomatoes Vs. Canned Tomatoes
There have been mixed opinions from the experts about using crushed tomatoes & canned tomatoes. Some believe the canned tomatoes are not perfect for the slow cooker, as they are too salty.
Some also prefer the less messiness of the canned tomatoes, while others prefer the mushy ones more.
But the crushed tomatoes seem to have slightly more advantages than the canned tomatoes. Dishes like veil, chicken, or fish suit crushed tomatoes the most.
While crushing the tomatoes, be sure to peel the skin entirely. After peeling, drain the tomatoes. Then transfer them to a bowl & start squeezing with clean hands. You can also use kitchen scissors to crush the tomatoes.
Crushed tomatoes are excellent in adding a summer flavor to specific dishes of chicken & fish.
However, you need to select sun-dried & oil-packed tomatoes for such dishes. Don’t forget to retrieve them in simmering water for at least 15 minutes so they give the best result & flavor.
7. No Compromise With Vanilla Extract
You can use a slow cooker for baking cakes & other desserts. But before doing so, be sure to use the best quality vanilla extracts.
Otherwise, your dessert will only taste of sweet flour & butter. Sometimes you may experience sweetened eggs only if you skip vanilla extracts. That said, you must use quality vanilla extract. Vanilla extracts are rich in alcohol content that supplements all other flavors. It is like the salt side of the savory flavor.
Therefore, use vanilla extract to get the true essence of vanilla & make your dessert alluring.
8. Be Careful With Liquids
You need to understand something before pouring water into the slow cooker. Remember that your cooker will remain occupied for a long time. You won’t open the lids of the oven during this time. That means the evaporation process will face disruptions as you have fixed the recipe.
So, you need to pour the water carefully; otherwise, it may overflow from the lid, ultimately ruining your food. To prevent such an occurrence, you need to be precise with water measurement.
Reduce the quantity of liquid by roughly a third. Just make sure your ingredients & meat gets covered by the water. You don’t want to see spillage of water because of over pouring.
Always go for half to a two-thirds portion of water; never cross the three-quarters limit.
9. Get Rid Of Overcooked Vegetables
Sometimes you may find yourself in a dangling situation where you have mouth-watering meat ready along with a mushy vegetable dish. Situations like these can haunt you forever.
But you can avoid such uncanny problems by adopting some precautionary measures.
If you see that your vegetables got messed up badly, but the meat is still succulent, throw away the overcooked vegetables. Never serve mushy vegetables with juicy meat as it gives a bad vibe. Instead, serve newly cooked vegetables.
However, while deciding to throw the mushy vegetables out, you can still use the liquid. Take the liquid separately in a pan & keep reducing until it takes the glaze form. Later, you can use the glaze to coat the meat.
10. Understand The Limits
Like every other piece of equipment, your slow cooker has limits too, & you must know the limits. For instance, the high setting of the slow cooker doesn’t mean cooking quickly. It instead imparts high heat & can dissolve many vegetables.
Unless you are using squashes, it’s never advisable to cook for 12 hours on a high setting. Delicate & tender vegetables boil & get cooked quickly. So, if you set the slow cooker on a high setting for a long time, chances are you won’t find the existence of zucchinis in your dish.
But this feature can be handy if the ingredient is pepper.
Again, put the root veggies close to the heat source as they take longer than meat to get cooked thoroughly. Try to cook on the low setting to have the best flavor & aroma.
11. Some Dishes Taste Better After A Day
Do you want to know a secret? The delicious soups of your favorite restaurant are a day’s old. Some flavors need time to develop. That’s why dishes like chili meat or brisket taste even better on the next day.
Slow cookers are easy to handle. Pour the ingredients, set the setting & the slow cooker will slowly cook, imparting the true essence of alluring flavors.