Main image as seen on Pixabay by btfrewinphotography.
Many of us have got a slow cooker and we guess it’s lurking at the back of the cupboard, like ours, brought out into daylight only occasionally to make the odd casserole here and there! Well here are some tips to make your meals in the slow cooker even tastier and easier, so that you can make more use of it!
Brown the meat and soften the onions on the stove first
Now this isn’t a shortcut, but it certainly helps to build up the flavour. Searing the meat and softening the onions first on the stove will make them nice and brown and caramelized, and will help your dish to develop a rich flavour which the slow cooker can’t achieve on its own.
Leave the lid alone!
Unless you need to stir occasionally or add ingredients later in the process, don’t remove the lid while your food is cooking. The lid traps the heat and every time you lift it, it can take up to 30 minutes (yes, 30!) for the cooker’s interior to return to the proper temperature, resulting in a longer cooking time. Also, the liquid can’t evaporate then and so all of the taste remains in the pot!
Add dairy products, pasta, beans and small vegetables near the end
Cooking dairy products at a high heat for a long period of time can cause them to curdle, so save them for last. The same goes for pasta, beans or tender vegetables – add them within the last 10 minutes or so, as you only want them to heat through and not turn to mush.
Foods which don’t need stirring are ideal for cooking overnight – stews and chilli always taste better after they’ve had a chance to sit and the flavours develop. Re-heating them when you get in after work certainly won’t take too long – after all, you’ve got potatoes or rice or pasta to cook at the same time. Then you don’t have to worry if you’re delayed on the way home from work – your dinner won’t be continuing to cook away and getting ruined!
Use the slow cooker for more than meat
Almost anything can cook in a slow cooker – if you invest in a recipe book for slow cookers (or even dig out the one possibly included when you originally bought your slow cooker!) you’ll see that you can use it for making desserts, cocktails, snack mixes and dips. So go on, don’t be afraid – experiment. Once it’s all prepared, you can chill out while the slow cooker does the rest! And remember, it’s perfect for keeping a pot of mulled wine or cider warm while you entertain friends, too!
Finally, if you’re struggling with ideas of what to cook in your slow cooker then this Cook it Slowly cookbook is the one for you! This fantastic cookbook is easy, fuss-free and delicious! Available from Dairy Diary.
What are your tips for slow cooking like a pro? Let us know by commenting below.