Posted in Food and Beverage on 05.07.11
Slow cookers or crock pots are countertop electrical cooking appliances that maintain a low temperature for several hours. This enables cooking stew or pot roast without the need to check on it from time to time.
Amateur cooks will find it very easy to handle and maintain. All you need to do is to fill it up, and then turn it on. After several hours, dinner can be served. However, when using the slow cooker, there are some things you need to consider. It is best to get one that has a removable liner, making it very easy to clean. If you already have one with a non-removable liner, you can just use a cooking bag; then, use cooking spray on the inner liner.
Make sure you only fill your slow cooker ½ up to 2/3 full. The food will not be cooked properly if filled to the brim. However, if the liquid and food level is a bit lower, it will cook quickly.
You will find that the food along the bottom part of the slow cooker are moister and become cooked faster. This is because they are continuously immersed inside the simmering liquid. Since fats have a tendency to melt and cook easily when heated for a long time, resulting to an unpleasant texture, it is best to trim the excess fat formed and remove the skin from poultry.
During the last 30 minutes of cooking time, you can remove the lid and cook it on high to thicken the juices and add more flavors. It is best to cook on High during the 1st hour of cooking so that the temperature would easily reach 140 degrees, ensuring food safety. When you are almost done with your cooking, you can turn the dial to Low.
Do not place frozen foods inside your slow cooker. It should be defrosted first before cooking it. This way the temperature would easily reach 140 degrees. It also protects the appliance from being damaged.
Use cheaper cuts of meat because this requires about 8 hours of low cooking. Aside from being able to save money, they have less fat, moist and they result to more tender meats.
Ground meat should be cooked inside a skillet prior to cooking it in the slow cooker. If you will be cooking seafood in a slow cooker, this should be added in the last hour of cooking; otherwise, it will become overcooked and it will showcase a rubbery texture. Take note, 1 hour on high setting is actually equal to 2 hours on low setting.
Only use small amounts of Tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper because they become bitter when they are cooked for a long time. It is best to add them during the end of your cooking time.
Make sure you only add tender vegetables such as mushrooms, tomatoes and zucchini on the last 45 mins. of cooking time. This way, you will not overcook them.
Dairy products, on the other hand, must be added only during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
Prior to storage, take out cooked food from the slow cooker or liner. Since the slow cooker's liner is composed of thick material, cooked food will not be able to cool down quickly so as to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Only stir in spices during the last hour of cooking time. If you cook this for a long time, it will lose its flavor.
Carefully follow the layering instructions. Since vegetables are not cooked as easily as meat, you need to place them in the bottom of your slow cooker.
If you are using low temperature, do not lift the lid when you stir. This is because the heat will escape and extend the cooking time to 30 minutes more. You can check the cooking progress by spinning the cover so that the condensation would fall off, giving you a chance to look inside your slow cooker.
Here are some of the best Roast Beef Recipes you can cook with your slow cooker:
Roast Beef a la Mushroom Soup
Ingredients are 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup, small to medium shoulder or chuck of beef roast, 1 can of French Onion Soup, a dash of pepper and ½ can of water (for cleaning the soup can).
Place the first 3 ingredients inside your slow cooker. Mix the ingredients until thoroughly blended. Sprinkle a dash of pepper. Put the settings on Low and allow cooking for the entire night. The next day, remove the meat and prepare your gravy. If your gravy seems too thin, add about 1 to 2 tsp. of cornstarch with ¼ cups of cold water. Set the cooker on high. Stir in the mixture to thicken and serve.
Roast Beef with Gravy
Ingredients are olive oil, 3 to 3 ½ pounds Boneless Rump Roast, 8 garlic slivers, salt and pepper. You will also need a meat thermometer. For the gravy, you will need some beef stock or red wine and corn starch.
One hour prior to cooking remove the roast from the refrigerator at put it in room temperature.
Using a sharp knife, you need to cut about eight small incisions around your roast. You will place one sliver of garlic on each incision. Place one tablespoon of olive oil around your roast and then sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Put your roast on the oven rack with the fatty side up and a drip pan over a rack under the roasting rack. This way, you will not be required to turn the roast.
Brown your roast at 375oF for 30 minutes. Then, put it on 225oF. It would still 2 to 3 hours to cook but if it starts to drip and is already brown externally, use your meat thermometer to check its temperature. After this, pull your roast from the oven once the temperature reaches 135 to 140oF. Place it on an aluminum foil for about 15 minutes and carve to serve.
For the gravy:
Take out the dripping pan from the oven. Place it on the stove top while it is on medium heat. Collect the drippings, add water, beef stock or red wine. This will loosen the drippings off the pan. Then, dissolve one tablespon of cornstarch with water and add this on the drip pan. Stir it quickly as the gravy thickens. You can also add some butter, salt and pepper. Aside from this, you can also add some fresh thyme.
About the Author: