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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Using a Slow cooker or Crockpot

One of my favorite ways to cook is by using a slow cooker.  Or, as I have always called them "Crockpots".  Crockpots are one of the best ways to save time in the kitchen. It is great for a new cook or an experienced cook. You just fill it up, turn it on and go about your day!  When you return, you come home to your house smelling wonderful and your dinner is ready! I plan on posting several crockpot recipes so I thought I'd start out with some tips first!

Here are a few tips to get you started  using your crockpot.

  1. If you haven't purchased a crockpot yet, be sure to get one that has the removable pot. It makes clean up a lot easier!  You can also purchase bags to place inside the pot for easy clean up. I do this a lot when we make chili or soups.
  2. Most crockpots have their low settings cooking at 200 degrees while the high cooks at 300 degrees. 140 degrees is the temp that foods need to reach as soon as possible. So both of these settings are good. If you are home, you can put it on high for an hour so it reaches the 140 quickly, then switch it to low for the rest of the day.
  3. 1 hour on high- is equal to 2 hours on low. 
  4. I've heard some people say that you should never put frozen food into a crockpot. Crazy.. I have been doing that for years.. and it has worked out fine. I guess it is up to you.
  5. Fill up  the crockpot one half to two thirds full. Your food will not cook properly if it is filled to the brim.
  6. Foods cooked on the bottom of the slow cooker cook faster and will be moister because they are in liquid.
  7. Be sure to remove skin from your chicken and cut off fat from the meats. Fatty foods cook to quickly and leave an unpleasant taste.
  8. Cook on high for the last 30 in to thicken up the juices if needed.
  9. Most meats require 8 hours of cooking on LOW.
  10. Follow the layering instructions carefully in your recipe book. Vegetables should be placed on the bottom since they do not cook as quickly.
  11. Try not to lift the lid to stir. When you do, heat escapes and your cooking time can will need to be extended by 20-30 min.
  12. Ground meats should be cooked in a skillet before putting into the crockpot.
  13. Seafood should be added the last hour of cooking.

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