Definitive guide to slow cooker or crock-pot, part 1

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A slow cooker or crock-pot can be your best friend in the kitchen, and you may not know it yet. This small appliance is a great ally for all those people who lead a busy life but do not want to give up nourishing their bodies with real food. Yes, even you who complain about the lack of time during the whole week can return, after a long day of work, to a house that smells of glory and enjoys a homemade, delicious and healthy dinner, made with the ingredients of quality that you have chosen. With very little effort you can fill your freezer with succulent elaborations worthy of a feast: broths, sauces, soups, and main dishes.

A very good reason to use these types of pots when you have a special diet is that eating out with certain restrictions can be frustrating. With the slow cooker, you can prepare many homemade dishes easily and quickly. Although the cooking times are much longer than when we cook over a conventional fire, it usually takes very little time to prepare the ingredients for a meal made in the slow cooker.

Another great reason for us is that the crock-pot offers ideal cooking for the meat fed 100% with grass, especially those harder cuts but also economic, with abundant connective tissue, that when cooked slowly they become tender and mellow. In fact, the recommendations to prepare this type of meat are focused on slow cooking, at low temperature (120º C) and with added humidity.

In addition, the slow cooker is also remarkably versatile. Not only can you use it to make broths and stews (although I must confess that this is the most common use in my home), but it also serves to steam cook and bain-marie, and even to make biscuits and bread. Once you have learned everything you can do for you, you will see how much it will make your life easier.

ELECTRICAL CONSUMPTION The electrical cost of a crock-pot depends on the model and the function used, but they are generally appliances with low energy consumption. After having made the calculation on this page, the cost per hour of my slow cooker is about 2 cents in the low program and 5 cents in the high program. As a comparison, the energy consumption of my large ceramic hob is about 40 cents/hour. The capacity of my pot (almost 6 liters) allows me to cook large quantities of food at once.

How to choose the ideal slow cooker

Today there are dozens of models that vary both in size and price. One of the determinations that we must take is its shape, round or oval. I personally prefer the latter because it allows me to cook a whole piece of meat without problems. In terms of sizes, which are also many in the market, I decided in its day for a 5.7-liter because with the same effort and energy expenditure,I can prepare large quantities and freeze in portions or have leftovers for another day of the week.

Other details to consider and that I find very useful are the incorporation of a programmable timer (that allows you to cook during the time you choose and not the preset of 4 and 8 hours) and the function of temperature maintenance (keep warm) after cooking is finished. The glass covers are also useful because they allow us to see through without the need to lift and lose temperature, as well as the design of the interior ceramic pots that are easy to extract from the slow cooker.

Temperature control is a very important aspect of a household appliance of this type. There are many models that heat up too much (it’s ironic in a slow cooker ), it’s very important to read the opinions of different devices in a site like Amazon to get an idea of its reliability in this regard.
Slow Cookers in Amazon.es. Slow cookers at Amazon.co.uk. And this is the model that I have.

HOW MUCH DOES A SLOW COOKER HEAT?

Modern slow cookers should heat around 150º C in the high program and over 95º C in the low program. This means that your food should be between 75º C and 140º C during cooking.

Keys to success with your slow cooker

Then I leave some of my best recommendations so that the recipes prepared in your slow cooker come out to suck your fingers.

Cook at Low whenever possible

Whenever possible and you have enough time, it is preferable to use the crock-pot in low , since the recipes that are cooked with this function always remain juicier and tender than those that have been cooked in high .

Cook the chicken at Low no more than 6 hours
Cooking the chicken for more than 6 hours or at high results in unappetizing, dry and fibrous chicken meat.

Dora the meat, but not always

There is no strict rule about browning or not browning the meat before putting it in the slow cooker. In many of my recipes, usually, those that use many spices or aromatic ingredients such as curry pastes, I usually save this step without affecting the final taste of the dish. But there are cases in which, for a greater richness and depth of flavor in the dish, it is necessary to take out the pan and brown the meat. When it comes to minced meat, this step is important to get a tender and not gritty meat at the end of the long cooking period.

Add concentrated tomato and tamari for a meatier flavor

Do you concentrate on chicken soup? Tamari in a stew? If we heat concentrated tomato with spices and aromatic herbs we can imitate the meat flavor that is normally only obtained when we brown the meat. And a small amount of tamari (soy sauce traditionally fermented and gluten-free) added to soups, stews, and stews provides a surprising depth of flavor without attracting attention.

Do not skimp on aromatic ingredients

Use generous amounts of onion, garlic, herbs, spices, curry pastes and other flavorful ingredients in your recipes. The reason is the following: the flavors tend to soften due to the type of cooking (wet and prolonged) offered by the slow cooker. In addition, many recipes need a touch of extra flavor at the end of cooking, so we can add fresh herbs, lime juice, chili peppers and other ingredients full of flavor.

Do not go with liquids

It is important to use less liquid when cooking in a crock-pot, especially in recipes with lots of vegetables. All the liquid that is extracted from the foods that are cooked slowly accumulates in the pot because there is no evaporation. Therefore, it is easy to end up with a result that is too diluted. If necessary, it is always preferable to add, at the end of the cooking, some liquid to a very dense and tasty sauce, which will drown your food in a watery sauce.

Time and order of ingredients: two important factors

For some strange reason, the meat will cook faster than the hard vegetables (especially the tubers) in a slow cooker, so we should place them (carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, potato, etc.) in the bottom of the pot and around the edge. The soft vegetables are cooked quickly, so you can add them in the last 30 – 60 minutes of cooking.
Cooking times may vary slightly depending on the brand of your slow cooker. Your plate will be ready when the meat is very tender and has a wonderful aroma. If you want something to cook faster, use hot ingredients, such as meat that you have browned in the pan and hot broths. If, on the other hand, you want it to cook more slowly, start with cold ingredients. And although it seems like a strange tip in a post about slow cookers, do not overcook your food. Leaving it longer does not necessarily mean it comes out better. A slow cooker with a digital programmer and an automatic function to keep the food warm once the cooking is finished, will guarantee that your stew does not turn into porridge while you are away from home.

Choose the right thickener

Since sauces and stews do not naturally thicken in the moist environment of the slow cooker, it can be useful to use thickeners for soups, stews, sauces and other stews. The best solution to lightly thicken is cassava flour or starch, as it is a gluten-free flour that works very well at low temperatures, and also allows freezing without changing its texture. Another option is to use tubers such as sweet potato or squash to be part of the sauce, thus providing more body. And of course, we can always take out the sauce and reduce it in a casserole over the fire.

If you already have a slow cooker and what you want are recipes, you may be interested in these two books: The Paleo Slow Cooker by Arsy Vartanian and Paleo Slow Cooking by Chrissy Gower.

I have extensive experience in researching the product and always trying to find the actual fact of the product. Actually, Ton's of same or similar product in the market so, how you will identify which is the best and fit for your daily life. Just think! I'm here to select the best.

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