For safety always use fully thawed meats.
Prep & Cooking Tips
Avoid using whole chickens or large whole roasts; cut meat into chunks for through and through cooking.
A slow cooker operates best when it's between half and three fourths full.
If you convert a conventional recipe for the slow cooker, remember since the top stays on, liquid won't evaporate as it normally does with stove-top cooking. Decrease the amount of liquids in the recipes by about 20%.
Dairy products, like sour cream, milk or yogurt, tend to break down in the slow cooker. To prevent this, add them during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
GOOD BETS FOR SLOW COOKING
If the meat department has a sale on "bone-in" roasts, stock up! They can be used in many recipes.
Fat adds calories but it also adds flavor. For healthier results, trim off most of the visible fat before cooking.
Meats that are tough when grilled, roasted or broiled can be delicious when prepared in the slow cooker. Your slow cooker turns tough meats tender with long, moist cooking.
Browning meats reduces fat content, and also caramelizes sugars, adding flavor and improving appearance. Brown beef, pork, or lamb in a skillet before adding to the slow cooker.
- Meat and poultry quantities can be doubled. When doing this, also double vegetable amounts. But don't double liquid measures. Increase these by about ½ to ⅔.
Changing Recipe Amounts
Intensely flavorful ingredients like garlic, rosemary, fennel, chili powder and ground peppers intensify during slow cooking. Increase these amounts carefully, adding just 25 – 65% when recipes are doubled.
Don't double thickeners. The standard amount will usually be enough. If the finished recipe needs thickening, blend in more thickener at the end. Be sure to dissolve cornstarch in liquid before adding to your dish.
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Pasta, Rice and Beans Tips
Adding pasta to slow cooker recipes is easy. Here are some tips for great results. Prepare pasta within an hour of serving time. Cook the pasta al dente – just a little firm. Then add to the slow cooker during the last 30 minutes of cooking. The pasta will become perfectly tender, but not too soft.
For recipes that require uncooked pasta, or recipes you're converting to a slow cooker, it's best to cook pasta on the stovetop before adding it to slow cooker. Follow the recommendation above to ensure a successful result.
It's easy to cook rice using a slow cooker, rice will steam while cooking in a slow cooker. Most rice will be cooked in about an hour but it's OK to leave rice in for the entire cooking cycle.
Dried beans are nutrient-rich and economical. They should be soaked, and then boiled before adding to your slow cooker recipes. Follow package instructions. Many dried beans require about 2 hours of prep time before they're ready for the slow cooker, so plan accordingly.
Fully cooked, rinsed canned beans may be used as a substitute for dried beans but should be added at the end of the cooking cycle to maintain integrity of the bean.For additional hints and tips,
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