Slow cookers are a great invention of all time; it provide a way to prepare delicious, flavorful meals with so little effort. In addition, with a slow cooker, you can save money by buying cheaper cuts of meat because when cooked over 6-8 hours they will become tender and release their rich flavors. Here are some tips that can help you turn basic slow-cooker dinners into standout supper stars everyone will enjoy.
Slow Cooker Tips
- Do not overfill your slow cooker. Only fill about two-thirds full.
- Do not add frozen ingredients directly to slow cooker. This can cause food to spend too much time in the food safety “danger zone” and potentially increase the chances of food-borne illnesses. Always thaw ingredients before adding to slow cooker.
- Cook meat and poultry to the FDA minimum internal temperature recommendations. Use an instant-read thermometer to test doneness.
- Do not lift cover while cooking more than absolutely necessary. Doing so will cause the temperature to drop to potentially unsafe levels.
- Never reheat foods using the slow cooker.
- Brown meats before adding to slow cooker. Although it is nice to just throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it cook, the majority of recipes will be enhanced by first browning the meats on the stove top. Taking this extra step will lead to more flavorful dishes.
- Sauteing onions and garlic in oil for a couple of minutes before adding them to the slow cooker will likewise increase the richness and flavor of the dish.
- Choose the right cut of meat. Many people believe that the leanest cuts of meat are the best. However, when cooking in the slow cooker the opposite is true. When lean meats are cooked for a long time they can end up dry and tough. This is why slow cookers are ideal for more inexpensive, tougher, and fattier cuts of meat. The slow cooking breaks them
down and leaves a tender, juicy piece of meat.
- Don’t add too much liquid. Since you are cooking with the lid on, very little liquid will evaporate during cooking. If too much liquid is added, you will have a thin, watery sauce.
- Use a liner for easy clean up. Lining your slow cooker will make for incredibly easy clean up.
Slow Cooker Recipes:
1.) Breakfast Casserole
Ingredients (Servings 8):
- 12 eggs
- 4 cups frozen hash browns
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk
- 10 ounces sausage, cooked, low-sodium
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Grease the bottom of slow cooker.
- Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Combine with milk, mustard, and black pepper and whisk them well.
- Spread half of hash browns on bottom of slow cooker. Top with half of each: sausage, cheese, garlic, onion, bell pepper. Add second layer of the other half hash browns, sausage,cheese, garlic, onion, and bell pepper.
- Pour egg mixture over layers. Cover with lit, and cook on low setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours, until eggs are set.
2.) Chicken Broth
The slow cooker is perfect for making your own chicken broth. It is perfect for using as a base in your soups and other recipes.
Ingredients (Servings 5):
- 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon basil, dried
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Place all ingredients into slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Strain before using. Discard vegetables. Chicken can be used in soup or other recipe.