In order to create a satisfying and mouth-watering slow cooked meal, it’s important to understand some crucial facts about cooking in your crockpot. Luckily, we’ve covered five simple facts that will help you use your crockpot to the best of its ability and produce delicious slow-cooked meals for the whole family to enjoy.
1. What to cook:
The most commonly asked question when cooking in a crockpot, is what order to put things in. If you’re slow cooking some meat and vegetables, a good general rule of thumb is to put firmer, root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots in the base and lay the meat on top. It’s also important to choose the right meat for crockpot cooking, which is fattier and tougher meats that will turn tender and retain moisture and remain juicy, over leaner meats that are likely to dry out.
On most models of crockpot, cooking on a low setting such as 170 degrees F will take about double the time of cooking on a high one, such as 280 degrees F. Be sure to use the right temperature for the right contents, and avoid being in the Danger Zone for too long (bacteria thrive between temperatures of 40 and 140 degrees F). This also applies to using frozen food, which should be avoided at all costs unless it is a prepackaged slow cooker meal which is suitable, provided instructions are followed properly.
If your crockpot was accidently unplugged, or you forgot to turn it on, or you tried to cook on the warm setting, then the food you used will be no good. It all goes back to the Danger Zone, and if your crockpot wasn’t on the correct setting, it’s likely that the content has been sitting between 40 and 140 degrees F for far too long. If this is the case, your best bet is to throw out the food and start from scratch.
4. Keep the lid on
The biggest rookie mistake when using a crockpot is taking the lid off during cooking. Keep in mind that each time the lid is removed; this will add an extra 15 to 20 minutes of cooking to your already lengthy cooking time. Crockpots work best when left alone for the correct time period, and when intervening such as stirring is not conducted. Any interruption will simply slow down the cooking (and not in a good way).
5. Take care of it
Like anything, your crockpot should be properly looked after to prolong its life. Crockpots are constructed with a ceramic insert, which should not be exposed to drastic changes in temperature otherwise it will likely crack. This means avoid putting the hot crockpot or ceramic insert straight onto a cold surface like the kitchen counter. It’s a good idea to lay out a dishtowel before placing the crockpot on the surface. This also applies the other way around – if you’ve had the insert in the fridge then ensure you let it sit to reach room temperature prior to placing it in the preheated base.
And there you have it, five helpful facts to keep in mind while crockpot cooking. Now you can prepare some tasty morsels for yourself or to serve guests.