Many busy parents rely on the incredible flexibility and ease of a slow cooker for getting a meal on the table at the end of a hectic day. They are a great kitchen gadget for making the most of budget cuts of meat and can offer a healthier, low-fat method of cooking that requires a minimum amount effort. It took me a while to get used to cooking with a slow cooker, because there are some subtle differences to stove based cooking.  In this post we share with you some slow cooker top tips for making the most out of this handy appliance.

Slow cook image

 

Slow cooker top tips

  • For many dishes, particularly soups and stews, you really can just throw all the ingredients in. You can experiment with browning things first, but it is not essential to do this for many slow cooker recipes.
  • You can save time by preparing everything you need for your slow-cooked meal the night before, put it into the slow-cooker dish, cover and store in the fridge overnight. Then put it on to cook before you rush out the door in the morning.
  • Plan dishes that utilise cheaper cuts of meat and bulk up with vegetables to make it go further.
  • You don’t need to add oil to a slow cooker, the contents won’t catch as long as there’s enough moisture in there. You don’t need a lot of fat on your meat either.
  • Liquid doesn’t really evaporate from a slow cooker. If you’re adapting a standard recipe, it’s best to reduce the liquid by roughly a third. The liquid should just cover the meat/vegetables.
  • Don’t overfill your slow cooker. It should be about half to two thirds full.
  • A thickening agent should be used. Either roll meat in a small amount of seasoned flour before adding it to the slow cooker or use a little cornflour at the end (mix with a small amount of cooking fluid before you put it in). Or a finely grated root vegetable such as carrot can help too, if you put it in at the start.
  • Use your ‘Low’ setting as much as you can. It’s safer and flavours develop better over the longer period of time.
  • Slow cookers are designed to do their own thing so you don’t need to keep checking the contents, it will let the heat escape and slow the cooking process down.
  • Root vegetables can take longer than meat and other vegetables so put these near the heat source, at the bottom of the pot.

One of my favourite Munch recipes for the slow cooker is this Slow cooked meatballs in tomato and aubergine sauce.

 

Mummy to three small boys

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