Hello Fall, AKA Crock Pot season! I know I’m not the only one who makes more Crock Pot meals during Fall and Winter so I have 8 great Crock Pot tips for you!
I consider my Crock Pot to be an essential kitchen appliance. It was numero uno on my wedding registry list, more important to me than a gift certificate for 5 free appointments to the”Husbands Who Snore Obnoxiously” clinic. I mean, what’s not to love here. You turn it on before you leave for work, and come home to a wonderful smell that answers that annoying question of, “What’s For Dinner”?
Don’t Crack Me Up
Crock Pots are work horses, and as such they deserve to be well kept. You can’t expose them to sudden temperature changes or you risk them cracking up! Allow your pot to cool down before cleaning it and if you want to prepare the meal the night before, place it in a large bowl instead of in your pot. If you do use the pot to prepare the night before, allow it to come to room temp before you turn it on.
Crock pots were made for the crappiest, toughest cuts of meat. They will turn even the toughest cuts of meat into fall apart yumminess. But you still need to keep it as trim as possible. While leaner meat cuts can dry out in them, overly fatty ones add a lot of floating fat which isn’t all that tasty or visually appealing.
Most dishes will require some prep work. It might be as simple as peeling, or cutting up veggies, gathering ingredients or getting the layers right. Or trimming the fat as mentioned above. But, you could go further! When adding ingredients such as; onions, mushrooms or herbs you should consider sauteing them. You will get a better blend of flavor this way! And some recipes will call for browning certain cuts of meats, so don’t skip this step. It helps those cuts stay together for your meal, to cook properly or add to the flavor of the entire dish. And as for hamburger meat and the Crock Pot? Always precook the meat!
Unraveling The Layers
One of my favorite dishes to cook in a crock pot is Roast with carrots and potatoes. When it come to root veggies in dishes like this, they need to be placed at the bottom with the meat resting on top. They will fully cook at the bottom and BONUS…..they soak up all the juices! So pay attention in the recipes for how to layer the ingredients.
Crock Pots need lots of personal space both inside and outside the pot. Don’t overcrowd it, allow for space around the crock. And inside the crock, if you’re making dishes like chili, make sure that you have filled it no more than 3/4 full. Give it some headroom or you’ll come home to a mess on your counter! But, if you’re cooking an entire chicken or a large roast, as long as the lid fits securely and snugly you’re golden.
Don’t Flip Your Lid
Every single time you’re tempted to lift the lid to sneak a peek, you’re adding another 15 – 20 minutes of additional cooking time. While your curiosity won’t kill the cat, it does knot it’s tail. Leave the lid alone!!
Starchy foods such as; rice and pasta should be precooked then added during the last 10 -15 minutes of cook time. In my opinion, potatoes can be left out of this rule, but I’m a soft potato lover. If you like yours on the firm side of life by all means add them later. I won’t judge. Much.
Dishing The Dirt
Crock pots are usually easy to clean with a little soap and water. But the worst can happen to all of us. We overestimate cooking time, a syrupy dessert gets out of control or you ask your husband to handle dinner just once and you’re left with the burnt on food ring from hell. What do you do? Try scrubbing it with a mixture of baking soda and dish soap or use my Soft Scrub Recipe and apply those muscles. If that doesn’t work you can always use an oven cleaner spray. But may I suggest that you buy some Crock Pot liners? Whoever invented these deserves a Noble Peace Prize and you should support her/his nomination by buying them. Clean up then consists of pulling the bag out, rinsing it and recycling. You’re done cleaning before the opening credits end on your favorite show.
Those are my 8 great tips for using your Crock pot alias slow cooker. But if I didn’t touch on your burning question go to Crock Pot Ladies! These are the gurus for all things Crock Pot like this conversion chart below.
You will also find wonderful recipes and a FAQ page that answers questions that I didn’t even know I had. Crock Pots were invented for people like me who want Frito Chili Pie after being outside 8 hours in January then not wanting to consider doing anything more strenuous than taking a hot bath. It was invented to prevent me from shoving a cast iron skillet so far up my husband’s….well never mind, for daring to ask me what’s for dinner. See, my husband considers my Crock Pot an essential kitchen appliance too!
Happy Crock Potting!
P.S. I want to have another Give Away!!! If you’d like to enter for a chance to win this Cookbook, leave me a comment and tell me, ” Do you call it a Crockpot or a Slow Cooker?”. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Wednesday, October 26th!