Wrapping up crockpot week the ladies and I put together a little list of things to help you have the most success with a crockpot. Truly crockpots are pretty simple.. they cook slowly so its hard (not impossible) but harder to burn foods and you generally just throw everything in the pot! I love no-brainer meals like that make my life simpler. Sometimes I just don't have time to be in the kitchen. Other days I crave it, but when soccer practice is 5:30-6:30 and the hubs isn't home til 7 dinner pretty much needs to be ready ahead of time or it's take out.
10 Crockpot/ Slowcooker Tips
1. When cooking meats or dishes with relatively low amounts of liquid, pretty much anything but soups- spray the inside with a cooking spray like PAM. This will help have an easier clean up :)
2. Try not to cook with levels LESS then ½ full or MORE than ¾ths full. If less, you run the risk of burning the food. If to full, you run the risk off the food not cooking. Ehem. Hard potatoes in your potato soup that was cooked 8 hours is a great example. This never happened to me :)
3. In reference to Tip 2.. Choose the appro size Crockpot/Slow Cooker for your dish. Sizes vary any where from small about 2.5 quarts, medium (round or oval) 4-5 quarts, to large (oval) 6-7 quarts. Recipes don't always specify which size to use so use your judgment with the amount of ingredients and liquids being used as to what size. Kadee… one of our contributors owns 3 sizes! I have 2, but use my large most often.
4. The Crockpot is made out of ceramic. Soo.... be careful not to change temps abruptly. A hot dish in cold water or visa versa. This can crack your pot. Don't crack your pot.
5. Dairy and Crockpot are just not BFF's. They are just acquaintances. Meaning.. cooking dairy for hours in a crockpot with probably just curdle the dairy. If cheese, milk, cream cheese, cream or other dairy product is called for it will typical be added just before serving or in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
6. Small portions of meat like chicken breast or pork chops can be added to the crockpot frozen, however with a large piece of meat like a whole chicken it is best to add it thawed so it is cooked thoroughly.
7. DON'T LIFT THE LID!! Resist the urge.. if you break the seal you can go ahead and tack on another 15 minutes of cooking.
8. Fresh herbs are typically a waste. The flavor is meh to yuck and the herb wilts or burns. Best to use dried herbs when cooking in a crockpot.
9. Crockpots need moisture. So if you just simply want to slow cook some veggies or meat, try adding a little broth about ½ -1 inch deep. If your fat friendly try a few tablespoons of butter. Butter has a great flavor on chicken and keeps it moist.
10. Have fun in the kitchen! Try new things, explore new flavors and keep it simple for your sanity. Crockpot dinners are a great way to have a meal prepared while you sit back a relax (hah! Chase the kids is more like it.) But they do relieve a little stress around dinner time.
Favorite Crockpot Recipes
Crockpot Recipes from this weeks Crockpot Series
Chocolate Apple Cobbler