While slow cookers are the optimal choice for economical and easy cooking equipments, it takes some tips and tricks to master cooking with a slow cooker. After reading multiple slow cooker reviews to select one for your own kitchen, it is time to check out the cooking tips from experts in order to make get the best dishes out of your slow cooker.
Below are four tips that would help to add flavors to your slow-cooked meals as well as to ensure the dish is a success.
Pre-Heat Your Slow Cooker Beforehand
This small step is also the most commonly overlooked step in cooking with a slow cooker. Normally people tend to put all ingredients in the cooker, and turn on the cooking.
However, slow cooker is quite similar to a small oven. If you pre-heat the equipment beforehand, the cooking process will work a lot faster and much more efficiently. It will take around 20 minutes to preheat the cookers to get it ready for the task.
Brown Your Meat And Keep It At Room Temperature Before Starting To Slow-Cook
Putting cold meat in a slow cooker and start cooking right away is definitely a ‘must-not-do’ in cooking books. The reason is that with meat at room temperature, the texture is more relaxed and flexible and meat juice is distributed evenly across the meat.
Browning your meat before slow-cook is necessary since it will create deeper flavor for the dish. There are different ways to brown your meat before slow-cook. You can either use a saucepan for caramelization or roast the meat at around 400F until the color turns brown.
To add in to the flavor, you can make use of the morsels of meat in the pan, put in some water and deglaze them. The protein will dissolve during this process and creating a unique aroma that would make your slow-cooked dish twice as more tasty.
Check The Appliance Regularly And Remove Already-Overcooked Vegetables
When you put all ingredients in together and start cooking, some might be cooked faster than the rest. Therefore, if you let the vegetables overcooked, then it is best to leave them out of the dish or puree them before putting back into the sauce.
The tip here is to check once or twice during cooking process to see when the vegetables are well cooked. Then, you can take out the vegetables and continue with the meats. At later stage when the meat is almost done, put the vegetables back in for a few minutes to heat them up together with the dish.
If you want to add wine to the dish, do not use wine that is already turned. For slow-cooked dishes, wine that is dry with high alcohol level will work best because it adds a touch of complexity to the original flavors. Sugary wine or low alcohol one would not go as well with slow-cooked braised dish.
Keep In Mind Your Appliance’s Limit
Setting the slow cooker to high will only work well if you want to heat up the ingredients or the cooker itself. Putting vegetables in slow cooker on a high setting for a long time will result in your vegetable melting into nothing, unless they are hard-shelled. If you want vegetables to stay whole for the dish, set your slow cooker on a delayed start for around four hours and keep the level setting to ‘low’.
Some soup dishes will taste better on the day after since the flavors have more time to develop. Thus, based on your intended dish, you might need to consider starting time to prepare and cook the dish to ensure the best flavors.
About the author: Lisa is a housewife who loves cooking and trying out different recipes as well as cooking tools. With a lot of experiences in cooking and using different cooking equipments for a range of recipes from daily meals to fancy dinners for special occasions, Lisa has collected a lot of tips and tricks for cooking in general.
She would love to share these tips and tricks with those who have the same passion for cooking as her. Once struggling with cooking equipments and recipes, Lisa wants to share the knowledge and help make it easier for other housewives in enhancing their cooking techniques.