The wind is blowing here, the temperature is dropping and we’re expecting rain. On days like this we look forward to hot, comforting dinners. A slow cooker (Crock-pot is one brand) is a convenient way to have that satisfying dinner ready when you come home at night.
Here are some helpful tips for making your slow ccoker dinner simple and tasty.
- Less tender cuts of meat such shoulder, chuck roast, brisket and poultry legs work best for slow cooking.
- Fish and seafood are not well suited unless they are added during the last hour or so of cooking.
- Ground meat is also not recommended as the texture changes during long cooking and becomes mealy.
- Slow cooking tends to intensify flavors, especially black pepper, chili pepper and garlic. Dried herbs may loose some flavor with long cooking times and fresh herns are best if added right near the end of the cooking.
- It’s not necessary, but flouring and browning meat for stews will add a richer flavor and color and will help to thicken the sauce. Be sure to scrape the browned bit from the bottom of the pan to add to the pot.
- Plastic liners are available in the foil aisle of most major grocery stores. They make clean-up almost nonexistent.
- To ensure even cooking, be sure to fill the cooker at least halfway, but not to the brim. also, try not to stir as it will break up the vegetables.
- It generally works best to place the vegetables (chunks of carrot potato and onion, for example) on the bottom of the pot followed by a layer of meat.
- Meals can be made even easier by prepping many of the ingredients the night before and then just adding them to the pot straight from the fridge the next morning.
One of my family’s favorite slow cooker meals is exceptionally easy.
Bar-B Que Beef
Place chunks of carrot, potato, and onion on the bottom of the slow cooker,
cover with a layer of beef short ribs or stew meat. Cover with one bottle of your favorite bar-BQue sauce and an equal amount of your favorite beer. Cook 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. Vary the amounts to suit your personal needs and tastes.