- " Using an older slow cooker ? " If your slow cooker is older .... that is you purchased it, or received it as a gift, " prior to 1999 " you should " definitely " purchase a newer one for two reasons:
- Prior to that time the amount of heat that they generated on low and high settings were determined by the manufacturer which caused a lot of problems with " food safety " ..... the new models are now regulated with standard heat output settings.
- Using recipes found here, or other places on the web, more than likely will not " cook right, safely, or in the recommended time " for you also " due to the unregulated heat output of an older model ".
- " Transferring crock from fridge to cooker ! "There is a risk of some damage happening by doing this. Some cracks may form in the " glaze " of the pot after " continuous transitions " from fridge to pot. You then run the risk of " bacteria collecting in those cracks and risk food poisoning ".
Also one of the rules of using a crock pot is to " never use frozen meat ". The meat needs to be fresh or thawed. The slow and gradual heating process of slow cooking can lead to the meat not cooking all the way through and " this can be a health risk ".
- " I just Have To Stir It ! "You can take the lid off and stir, although that's not necessary, however for every time you take the lid off, for any reason, you need to add " 20 minutes to the total cooking time. "
- " My Meat comes out dry and/or tough: "When you’re cooking meat in the slow cooker, the leaner the cut, the drier it tends to get ..... So the best meat are those with a fattier cut of meat ..... like pork shoulder roasts, beef pot roasts, country style ribs, etc. ..... pork sirloin or chops don't do as well. Also if the meat comes with skin or a fat cap, leave that intact to keep the meat from drying out.
It’s also possible that the meat " simply cooked too long ". Generally, start out with about 1 to 1.25 hours per pound for cooking on high and 1.25 to 1.5 hours per pound for cooking on low. A third possibility is that the cut of meat was too tender to begin with. Tender meats, like beef tenderloin, are best done in an oven.
Also boneless chicken pieces are fully cook on low in about 3 1/2 hours .... or 4 hours with the bone. A whole 3 or 4 pound chicken will also cook in only 4 hours .....
- " My Meal comes out to watery: "For slow cookers, you need about half the amount of liquid that a traditional recipe ( for the oven or stovetop ) calls for. The lid traps the moisture in and keeps it from evaporating during the cooking time. This can make the final result too watery if the recipe is not adapted using less liquid in a slow cooker.
If you are trying to make a recipe that is normally made in the oven, cut the amount of liquid by about 50%.
" If your final dish is still coming out too watery try one of these options: "
- Once the meal is cooked remove the lid and turn the slow cooker to high for about an hour. This will allow some of the moisture to evaporate, thickening the sauce / broth.
- A slurry, or combination of cold liquid and cornstarch, will emulsify fats and can even add flavor. For example, if you’re going for a rich sauce, add heavy cream to your cornstarch instead of water. You’ll only need enough liquid to hydrate the cornstarch and create a smooth texture. Once the slurry has been added to the slow cooker, turn up the heat to high, until the sauce has thickened.
- " I don't have a Slow Cooker with a timer on it: "You can simply purchase a " Lamp Style Timer " and plug your slow cooker into that ..... set the time for it to come on and the time for it to go off .....
- " Food isn't cooked evenly: "Food cooking unevenly is a common problem with slow cookers. If you’re making a beef stew with carrots, for example, some carrots may be mushy while some are too hard. Food that’s " cut into pieces that are the same size " will cook more evenly than food that’s chopped haphazardly.
Very soft veggies or fast cooking vegetables can usually be added toward the end of the total cooking time so they don’t break down and get softer than you like them. ( Don't forget, however, to add the additional 20 minutes of cooking time once you do this )
- " Don't switch the cooking temperature "This is a fundamental truth of successful slow cooking: " You cannot cook on High heat when a recipe calls for Low heat, and vice versa. " It’s so tempting to try and speed up (or slow down) dinner by switching the heat setting, but slow cookers’ heat levels and cook times are not an either/or proposition.
- As a general rule of thumb, meat will turn out better when cooked on Low.
- Cook recipes on High when they need high heat to achieve a certain texture or finish.
- Switching from Low to High means bad—or even unsafe—results.
- Switching from High to Low means mucky or dry results.
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