In today's fast-paced world, it's ironic that a device called a slow cooker (also known as a crockpot) can actually help you save time! The slow cooker allows you to prepare the components of a meal before work or at some convenient time during the day. Here are some tips to make cooking with a crockpot a little easier.
- If you don't like the taste or texture of meat after simmering in its juices, set the meat on a layer of vegetables (like potatoes, onions or carrots) or set it on foil balls high enough to keep the meat out of the juices. Wad up aluminum foil into balls, large enough for the chicken to sit on top of them yet not having the chicken touching the lid. I like to make them as high as I can, since there can be quite a bit of juice that accumulates at the bottom. Arrange foil balls around
the bottom of the crockpot, as many as you need to hold the meat up.
- Spray the crock lightly with non-stick spray, olive oil or vegetable oil to prevent the dish cooking or burning onto the sides of the crockpot.
- Make sure the crockpot is half full of food ingredients to keep the dish from burning or overcooking^DELdon't fill the crockpot too full, you want it no more than
2/3 full or the dish will need to cook longer to prevent it from being undercooked.
- Carefully remove the lid from the crockpot by lifting it straight up then over. This will help prevent much of the condensation running back into the dish, which just dilutes the sauce consistency and flavor.
- Unless the recipe instructs you to do so, do not lift the lid to stir or peek at the dish. This lowers the temperature inside the crock pot and the meal
won't be fully cooked within the specified time.
- Dry herbs and spices can lose their flavor when cooking so long, if possible, try adding them the last two hours before the meal is ready to help keep the
flavor. Use fresh herbs when possible, these can be added first thing since they'll hold their flavor better when cooking for hours.
- For better pasta and rice, cook these separately about an hour before the meal is ready. Once they're barely cooked, throw them in with the meal to simmer in the sauce.