Slow cookers are pretty much every working person’s best friend when it comes to hot, delicious, low-effort meals. Just by throwing in a handful of ingredients, and maybe the occasional stir, a tasty, nutritious, home-cooked meal is right at your fingertips! However, there are a few things I’ve found quite helpful when taking my first baby steps into cooking for myself and others with this lovely device. Maybe your mother’s told you these things already, but then again, maybe she hasn’t. Either way, I’d like to share some things I’ve picked up along the way.
I cannot stress this enough! Make sure there is at least an inch or water or other liquid surrounding your meat. This will ensure that your meat is juicy and tender once you take it out for dinner. I promise you, the liquid can make the difference between delectable and hockey puck. Personally, I like using broth, onion, or cream of mushroom soup, but let your taste buds decide!
Part of the point of slow cookers-aside from efficiency is to be mostly mess-free. I know I just said liquid is your friend, but there is a way to overdo it. Now, maybe you don’t mind the cleanup. In which case, fill ‘er up as much as you want! But for the rest of us, scrubbing excess, possibly congealing, stuff off the counter is something to avoid at all costs. So be mindful of how much you’re stuffing or pouring into the old slow cooker, and you’ll have considerably less mess to tangle with!
This part might take some tending to if you’re just starting out. I find it best to be delicate with the herbs and spices. This is only because you can always add more, but you can’t take it out very easily once it’s in the pot.
Unless you’re doing chicken, complete thawing isn’t strictly necessary if it’s going to cook all day. Don’t, however, expect to throw a ball of ice in there and expect it to be a meal by dinner. But if it’s still slightly frozen in the center, pork or beef will cook just fine through the course of the day.
If you can get away, or have a friend do it, coming home to stir up your meal in the middle of the day would probably be a very good idea. The less sticking to the bottom, the better.
Again, this might be kind of contradictory, but please bear with me here. Generally, you should keep the lid on your slow cooker as much as possible.
If you’re going to add veggies, I’d say it’s probably best to let them thaw a little and stir them in with the meat about an hour before you intend to eat. They’ll still have a crunch, but not so much as to be hard to chew.
I hope this helps you in making time for meals with your family. Happy cooking!