Do you own a slow cooker? If you do, does it hug a corner in the back of a cupboard? Do you long to use it but you’re just not sure what to do with it? Take action, dust it off and get cooking.
If you do not have a slow cooker then you can pick them up cheaply at large supermarkets or order from no end of online shops. There are different slow cookers to suit all budgets. I have my eye on the bluetooth Crock Pot which you can control from an app on your phone – how cool is that!
So, there’s a few really helpful tips when thinking about and using slow cookers:
- Buy the right size – how many people will you usually be cooking for? A family of 4 will suit a standard size slow cooker, but if your family is larger or you cook for dinner parties or you plan to batch cook then search out larger slow cookers.
- Do not overfill – most manufacturers recommend filling your slow cooker not more than 2/3 full. If you overfill then cooking times may be affected or you could be serving food that is not properly cooked.
- Remove the lid at your peril – did you know that if you remove the lid it will take 30 mins (yes 30 mins!) for the slow cooker to regain the heat you’ve just let out. It’s so tempting to remove the lid and take a look but don’t. Only remove the lid 30-45 mins before the end of the cooking time to check on your culinary delight’s progress.
- Plan ahead – yes, sorry to say but you are going to need to plan ahead if you are planning to use the slow cooker all day for dinner to be ready when you get home. If you want to switch the slow cooker on first thing in the morning to cook all day then trim and prepare meat, vegetables, sauces and measure out all ingredients. These can be stored in the fridge over night, but word of warning, do not store these ingredients in the slow cooker dish in the fridge as the ceramic dish will take up too much precious time to warm up.
- How to get the best flavour – if you are in a hurry then ingredients can be popped straight into the slow cooker pot. But if you have time then brown off the meat in a pan as this will give some added flavour to your dish.
- Be mindful of temperature – a slow cooker is not an oven and does not reach the typically temperatures that we are used to cooking with in an oven. It is best to keep pieces of meat relatively small to ensure that meat is cooked through properly. Be mindful of any cross contamination and keep any prepared ingredients separately in the fridge. Until you are very confident with your slow cookers capabilities, then use tried and test recipes first, do not try to cook from scratch with your slow cooker.
Tried and tested slow cooker recipes:
Please send CLC any slow cooker recipes that you’ve had great success with. Or contact me to guest post a recipe.