Crock Pot Cooking 101
Fall is here! Although most of the country is experiencing fall weather, we here in Florida are still feeling like it’s summer. Regardless of the temperature, we have gone FULL FALL in the kitchen…pumpkin and soup galore! There is something about fall cooking that leaves the home feeling extra cozy.
Whether you’re a beginner to the kitchen or an experienced chef, the Crock Pot is a must have for simple, quick, healthy dinners! Crock-Pots provide the homemade meal without slaving away in the kitchen all day. Here are some quick tips to help better utilize the Crock-Pot.
- Don’t lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time should be extended by 20-30 minutes.
- Remove skin from poultry, and trim excess fat from meats. Fats will melt with long cooking times, and will add an unpleasant texture, not to mention excess calories, to the finished dish.
- Most meats require 8 hours of cooking on LOW. Less tender cuts of meat like chuck and stew meat work well with this cooking method.
- Purchase the Reynold’s Slow Cooker Liners for easy clean up. When you are done cooking, transfer the dish into large bowl, throw away the liner, and voila—you’re all done!
Safety & Temperature:
- One hour on HIGH is equivalent to two hours on LOW.
- For food safety, it is best to cook on HIGH for the first hour to quickly bring the temperature up to 140ºF. Then turn the dial to LOW and finish cooking. Some crock pots are programmable and can be set to do this.
- For best results, ground meats must be cooked in a skillet before cooking in the crock pot.
- Cayenne pepper and hot sauce tend to become bitter if cooked for long periods of time–use small amounts and add toward the end of the cooking time.
- Add tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini during the last 45 minutes of cooking time so they do not overcook.