Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to convert a recipe into a crock pot recipe...

*I like to use my crock pot or slow cookers much more than what I actually do.  I find that I get less use of them simply because I don't have enough recipes for foods to cook in them.  I found this tip on how to convert a recipe into a crock pot recipe, so hopefully I will be able to use the crock pot more often.*

If a recipe calls for cooking the dish covered in the oven or on the stove top at a long low simmer, it's probably great for a slow cooker.  This includes foods like beef stew, pot roast, chili, or anything using a tougher cut of meat such as pork shoulder, beef chuck, brisket or lamb shoulder.

  • Layer ingredients.  Root vegetables like carrots, turnips, potatoes and parsnips take longer to cook than meat because they are harder, so put them in the bottom of the slow cooker, then put the meat on top.
  • Change the cooking time.  Recipes that cook for 2 to 4 hours in the oven or stove top will cook in the slow cooker or crock pot on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 7 to 9 hours. All slow cookers are different, so check the progress regularly.
  • Go light on spice.  Start with a moderate amount of seasoning and add extra flavor after cooking has finished.  Hot spices like cayenne, curries and some chili powders can become more intense during slow cooking, while fresh herbs, such as basil, chives or parsley, can become flavorless.  Adjusting the flavors at the end means that the finished dish will be just as you like it.  Make sure to cook any added dry spices for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Use less liquid.  Liquid doesn't evaporate in a slow cooker the way it does on the stove top or in the oven, so start with less.  A half cup of liquid, such as stock, wine or water, should be enough to create steam and start everything cooking.  For soups and stews, however, the slow cooker should be two thirds full.  Add all of the dry ingredients first, then add enough liquid to reach the correct level.
  • Reduce the liquid.  Leave the lid off for the last half hour of cooking so excess liquid can evaporate.  If the end result still has too much liquid, spoon it into a small saucepan and whisk in a slurry (2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp of cooking liquid).  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until thickened.  Add the thickened mixture back to the slow cooker before serving.

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