Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crockpot Cooking Tips

1. A crockpot is great for carrying food to potluck suppers even if you did not cook it in the pot.

2. Bake your pies, cakes, casseroles, etc in your crockpot during hot days. Your kitchen will stay much more comfortable that way!

3. Ever read that a recipe can cook for so many hours on LOW but there are no instructions for the same recipe to be cooked on HIGH??? Here's the rule of thumb for converting those heats. Food that takes one hour for HIGH heat, needs 2 to 2 1/2 hours on LOW. For example, if a recipe calls for a certain food to cook on LOW for 8 hours, you can basically cook it on HIGH for just 4 hours.

4. If you like homemade bread (who doesn't???) put your dough in a warm, not hot, crockpot while it raises. The extra heat that the crockpot provides will speed along the raising process!

5. Some people believe that cooking foods in crockpots can cause herbs and powdered spices to change their flavor. It is believed that whole herbs and spices such as garlic cloves will become too powerful when cooked in crockpots while foods with powdered herbs or spices may not be flavorful enough. So, try it and see what you think. The next time that you make that particular food, adjust the spices a bit if you think it necessary.

6. If you're going to be cooking soups or stews in your crockpot, you may want to add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of burgundy or Chablis wine. It adds more richness to the seasonings.

7. Don't forget that crockpots make great gifts for singles, couples and families! They range anywhere from 2 quart to 8 quarts in size. If the crockpot will generally be used to produce food for a 4-person family, the 5-6 quart crockpot will probably be the most suitable gift to give. (Of course, if there are hungry teenagers in the family, you may want to purchase the largest size. LOL!!!)

8. Crockpots work best if they are filled more than halfway with food.

9. Anytime that a recipe calls for cream, milk and sour cream, don't add them until the final 10 minutes of the cooking period if you are cooking on HIGH. If cooking on LOW, you can add them for the last 20 or 30 minutes of cooking. Otherwise these dairy products are likely to curdle and seperate from the rest of the food.

10. When you are cooking with a crockpot, you may notice that a certain dish has more liquid than what you want. That is because liquids cannot boil down in a crockpot. So, remove the lid and continue to cook on HIGH until the food is just right!

11. Want to serve warm rolls with your stew that you are preparing in your crockpot? Wrap them in foil and lay them on top of the stew as it is cooking for about the last hour or so of the cooking process.

12. Meats and vegetables perform best in crockpots if they have been browned or sauteed on the stove top before being placed in the crockpot. The result is more superb flavor and texture.

13. Slow cookers produce much juicier and more tender meats than if they are cooked on the stove or in the oven. The liquid stays right there with the meat the entire time.

14. Want roast for lunch tomorrow? Put it in the crockpot and begin cooking it the evening before. Let it cook all night on LOW.

15. If you want more of a rich gravy than a broth on the meat that you are cooking in your crockpot, brown the meat in a skillet first. Then scrape all of the browned goodies out of the skillet and into the crockpot.

16. If desired, place your meats and vegetables in roasting bags before you put them in the crockpot to cook.

17. When you are cooking a mixture of meat and vegetables at the same time, place the vegetables on the bottom of the crockpot. The vegetables will then have more moisture to cook in and the meat's drippings will help to season them better.

18. If you cook meals often that include ground beef, onion and/or basil and oregano, place 10 pounds of raw ground beef in your pot. Stir in the onions and/or basil and oregano. Allow to cook all day on HIGH. Drain and cool. Now scoop up the meat mixture and put it in freezer containers and freeze. Next time that you are going to be cooking a recipe that calls for this mixture, pull out a container of it, thaw it and add the rest of the ingredients to it. This will be much more convenient for you and clean-up will be easier and quicker!

19. Whenever a recipe calls for noodles or macaroni, cook and drain them BEFORE you put them in the crockpot. If your recipe calls for rice, stir in raw rice with the rest of the ingredients. Long grain converted rice works best for crockpot recipes. Add an extra cup of liquid if you will be cooking the rice all day.

20. Never put frozen meat or poultry in a crockpot! Any recipes that call for frozen meats need to cook an additional 4-6 hours on LOW or 2-3 hours on HIGH.

21. Cook hens, turkey or beef in crockpots that you want to use later for meat salads. The meat can be frozen until you are ready to make it into a salad.

22. Trim as much fat as possible from meat before you put it into the crockpot so that you're not left with overly greasy gravy.

23. It's always a good idea to lightly grease or spray your crockpot with PAM whenever you are going to be cooking casseroles in them.

24. A time-saver for busy families is to put all of the ingredients for tomorrow night's meal into your crockpot before you go to bed. Put the pot into your refrigerator and leave it there until tomorrow morning. Pull it out, set the temperature guage on LOW and go to work. When you come home, your dinner will be ready to serve!

25. HIGH usually means that your crockpot will be cooking food at 300 degrees. LOW means that it will be cooking at 200 degrees.

I'll let you digest these tips today. Look for more crockpot cooking tips later this week.


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