Shrinking budgets and rising food costs mean that slow cooking is becoming a trend once again. You can slow cook budget ingredients for fantastic results. There is not much you can do with a tough, cheap piece of beef on the stove but slow cook it all day and it will come out fantastic.
Our grandmothers knew how to cook good, wholesome food on a budget and, thanks to slow cookers, we can do the same. Programmable crockpots mean you can be out all day and come home to a delicious meal and you can get dual slow cookers, which let you cook two dishes at the same time.
There are plenty of crockpot recipes you can choose from but what if you want to make a family favorite, which is usually cooked, on the stove or in the oven? It is possible to learn how to modify a recipe for the slow cooker but there are a few things you need to know about slow cooking before you do this.
What is the Temperature Inside a Crockpot?
The first thing you need to know is that although crockpots do vary, the low setting is about 100 degrees F and the high setting is about 300 degrees F. This makes it simpler to adjust non-crockpot recipes for slow cooking. You will have to alter the cooking times but by following a few basic guidelines, you should be able to convert most recipes easily enough.
Remember that liquids do not boil away in the crockpot because there is nowhere for them to evaporate, so if your recipe calls for liquid you will not need so much. Rice and pasta get mushy if they are overcooked so cook them separately and add them to the crockpot at the end. Spices should be added at the end so they do not lose their flavors or become bitter. Milk products and cheese should be added near the end too, so they do not break down.
Meat should be trimmed of fat, since fat cooks really fast in the slow cooker and soaks into the other ingredients. Brown the meat before adding it if you want, to reduce the fat and to caramelize the sugars and give it a tasty appearance. Browning the meat is not necessary but a lot of people like to do it. You do not have to brown lean ground beef or other very low fat cuts, unless you want the browned look.
Vegetables cook slower than meats so layer them in the bottom of the crockpot before you add the meat on top. It is best to chop hard vegetables up finely, even if the non-crockpot recipe calls for them to be bigger.
How Long to Cook Crockpot Recipes
A stovetop recipe calling for fifteen to thirty minutes will need between one and a half and two hours in the crockpot on a high temperature or four to eight hours on a low temperature.
A stovetop recipe, which calls for thirty five to forty five minutes, will take three or four hours on high in the crockpot or six to ten hours on low. If the recipe takes fifty minutes to three hours on the stove, give it four to six hours in the crockpot on high or eight to sixteen hours on low.
Now you know how to modify recipes for the slow cooker and how to convert recipes to slow cooker cooking, you will be able to cook many of your family’s favorite dishes in the crockpot.
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