Using a Slow Cooker: Dos and Don’ts

9 minutes read

A slow cooker has lots of advantages. Letting it do its thing while you go about your daly routine, means that you will have great tasting meal at the end of the day. Here are the Clubnomnomnom tips for using a slow cooker.

Tips for using a Slow Cooker

If you find yourself short on time, a slow cooker is a great way to make sure you get a good meal. Recipes that don’t require much preparation are the best ones for this. For example soups and stews are ideal, as you can just throw the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it do its thing. However, cooking the onions off first will add to the flavour, but this is not essential.

Get Organised

Preparing your ingredients the night before will save you time in the morning. Get everything ready, cover and put in the fridge. Ideally, the ingredients should go in the slow cooker as close to room temperature as possible. Therefore, take the ingredients out of the fridge first thing.

Save Money

Using a slow cooker is a great way to save money. Using cheaper cuts of meat, such as lamb shoulder, pork shoulder or chicken thighs make great slow cooked meals. You can even use less meat, and use more veggies. This way, you still get good flavour and a healthier meal.

Trim Your Meat

Trimming the fat off the meat before you put it in the slow cooker is a really good idea. Otherwise, you may get pools of oil floating around in your stew. It also makes your meal healthier.

Thickening Your Slow Cooker Recipes

Before the meat goes in to your slow cooker, roll it in seasoned flour. This will make the stew thicker. If you need to thicken it after the food has cooked, you can add some corn flour.

To do this, mix it in to a paste with cold water before adding to. If you just add the corn flour without mixing it up first, it may not combine with the sauce properly. This means you will get bits of corn flour floating around in your stew.

Low and Slow

Using the low setting on a slow cooker brings out the flavours more. Also, you can leave it cooking all day and not worry about it.

Leave it Alone

A slow cooker is meant to be left alone to do its thing. So, don’t keep taking the lid off to check on it. Taking the lid off will let heat out and increase cooing time

Adding the Food

The best slow cooker recipes are the ones where you add all the ingredients at the start. This allows you to forget about it and get on with other things. However, pasta, rice and herbs can be added towars the end of cooking.

Cooking Time

  • 15-30 mins, cook it for 1-2 hours on High or 4-6 hours on Low
  • 30 mins – 1 hour, cook it for 2-3 hours on High or 5-7 hours on Low
  • 1-2 hours, cook it for 3-4 hours on High or 6-8 hours on Low
  • 2-4 hours, cook it for 4-6 hours on High or 8-12 hours on Low

Hard root vegetables can take a bit longer to cook. Therefore, put them at the bottom of the pot, close to the heat source.

Have a look a this very easy slow cooked Chicken Tikka Masala recipe below.

Things Not to do with a Slow Cooker

slow cooker

Don't Use Lean Meat

Tougher meats cook nicely in a slow cooker. However, meats like chicken breast, pork fillet and fillet steak turn in to tough leather. 

Don't Use Raw Meat

This “low and slow” style of cooking, means that any raw meat that you put in to a slow cooker will not brown. The browning of the meat also gives your stew the intense flavour. Therefore, it is essential to brown the meat before putting it in the slow cooker.

Don't Use Summer Vegetables

Delicate veggies like courgettes asparagus and peas are not suited to a slow cooker. Instead, make sure you use hard root veggies in your stew.

Go Easy on the Chilli

Chilli intensifies the longer it cooks for. Therefore, don’t go silly by putting too much in to your slow cooker.

Don't Add Raw Dried Beans

Using a slow cooker is one of the best ways to get the most out of pulses. However, adding raw beans in to a pot can make everyone ill. There are a lot of beans that contain toxic substances that need to be destroyed by cooking them at high temperature. Therefore, you need to boil them for at least ten minutes before adding them to your slow cooker.

Don't Put Too Much Liquid in Your Slow Cooker

Your slow cooker is sealed very tightly, therefore,  the liquid won’t evaporate. If you are adapting a recipe, it is advisable to reduce the liquid you put in by a third. There should be just enough liquid to cover the ingredients.

No Dairy

Milk, cream, yoghurt and any other dairy products will separate in a slow cooker. This will create a horrible watery mess. Therefore, only stir in dairy after the cooking is complete.

 

 

Go Easy on the Booze

As liquid doesn’t evaporate too much in a sloe cooker, being generous with the wine is not a good idea. Alcohol needs to be evaporated a little to get make it taste nice. Therefore, do this on the hob before adding it to your ingredients in your slow cooker.

Don't Add Fresh Herbs

Cooking fresh herbs in a slow cooker takes away all the flavour. That is, unless you add woody herbs such, as rosemary and thyme. All other herbs should be stirred in at the end.

Don't Add Seafood

Cooking seafood for a long time will just destroy it. However, squid and octopus are execptions to this rule and actually tenderise  in a slow cooker.

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