Friday, August 27, 2010

How To Produce Wonderful Meals With The Slow Cooker Cookbook

By Tim Worth

Even if you don't own a slow cooker, also called a crock-pot, you have almost certainly seen them in other people's kitchen. There is a sort of mystique about them, . Put the ingredients for dinner in the cooker in the morning, turn it on, and it will be ready to eat at dinner time. This really can work for lots of meals, but proper technique, as well as some recipe tweaking, is called for. The following is a start, but every slow cooker should have at least one good slow cooker cookbook.

The most common use of slow cookers is to make one dish meals that involve cooking several ingredients in a low temperature wet environment for an extended time. Stew, soups, and chili would be some examples. Just load it up and walk away.

The slow cooker can cut the cost of meat; it actually works best with cheaper cuts. Braising softens the connective tissue thus making them more palatable. The juices released improve the overall flavor.

Spending more money on a cooker gives the cook more options. The cheaper ones have a single heat setting; more money means more choices. Cooking on low is better for most dishes, but a higher heat can be used initially to get up to cooking temp faster.

Except for some top of the line models, the temperature settings control the amount of heat produced by the cooker. This indirectly determines the temperature. Some advanced models have controls that can be used to specify the heating time, and even stages, such as two hours on high followed by four hours on low. A few have temperature probes that can be used to actually specify cooking temperature.

The most important advice for slow cooking is, leave the lid on. Occasional checking is OK, but every time the lid comes up the temp goes way down, and it takes a long time to come back. Less water is needed for most recipes, because there is less evaporation. Sometimes the water cooked out of the ingredients may be enough.

This should get you started. If you have a manual for your cooker, it will probably give you more. You will find that a good slow cooker cookbook is a gold mine of additional recipes and tips.

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