The highlight of our week is always sitting down together for a home cooked meal before heading out to Church on Sunday nights. For a no-fuss meal, I love to use my crock pot for this lazy day. You can put something in first thing in the morning or around lunch time and have a full meal by dinner time.
Crock pot cooking isn’t hard and really any home cook can master a meal with little effort, but there are a few tips to keep in mind while cooking in your crock pot.
– DO NOT PEEK! Don’t lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time will be extended by 20 minutes to half an hour.
– Only fill the crock pot one half to two thirds full. Food will not cook properly if it is filled to the top.
– For food safety reasons, cook on HIGH for the first hour to quickly bring the temperature up to 140 degrees. Then turn the dial to LOW and finish cooking.
– Use cheaper cuts of meat – you can save money and these meats work better in the slow cooker. Cheaper cuts of meat have less fat, which makes them more suited to crock pot cooking and very tender meat. Most meats require 8 hours of cooking on LOW.
– Brown large cuts of meat in a skillet before cooking in the crock pot. Not necessary, but browning adds color and helps in flavor development.
– Add dairy and seasonings during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
– Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat, so they should be placed in the bottom of the appliance.
– Liquids do not evaporate and may be decreased in crock pot cooking – about half the recommended amount.
– Add tender vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini during the last 45 minutes of cooking time.
– To prevent the dish from cooking or burning onto the sides of the crock pot,spray lightly with a non-stick spray.
Cooking with a crock pot is easy, very convenient and satisfying. With a little planning, anyone can make a delicious, healthy meal!