Crockpot cooking is brilliant for beginning cooks because you just need to add the right ingredients and switch the machine on. The crockpot saves you a lot of time and is great for busy families because you can fill it in the morning, turn it on, and come home to a dinner, which is all ready to serve.
When shopping for a crockpot, models with removable liners are easier to clean, so it is best to buy one of those if possible. If your crockpot has a non-removable liner, you can line it with a cooking bag sprayed with cooking spray. This cuts down on cleanup time. You should remove the food from the liner or crockpot before you refrigerate it. The cooking bag is very thick, meaning that the food inside might not cool down quickly enough to stop harmful bacteria from growing.
Crockpot Cooking Times and Temperatures
It is a good idea to cook your food on high for the first hour to bring the temperature of the food up to 140 degrees F, which is the temperature the food must reach as soon as possible. When it gets to this temperature, you can turn it down to low and let it keep cooking. The low setting on a slow cooker is about 200 degrees F and the high setting is about 300 degrees F. One hour on high equals two hours on low.
Many professionals consider it best not to put frozen foods into the slow cooker, especially if you have small children or elderly people living with you because they have weaker immune systems and the food might take too long to warm up. When making crockpot recipes, you should defrost all the ingredients beforehand, allowing the food to reach 140 degrees F more quickly.
Tips for the Best Crockpot Recipes
Whichever crockpot recipes you are making, you should only fill your slow cooker between half and two thirds full. If you fill it to the brim, the food will not cook properly. If the level is much lower, the food will cook too fast.
Stirring is unnecessary with crockpot cooking, which means you can go to work and leave your dinner cooking all day. In fact, stirring is a bad idea with many crockpot meals, especially if you are using the low setting. This is because heat escapes every time you lift up the lid. Every time you do so, you should extend the cooking time by twenty to thirty minutes. If you want to see how your crockpot recipe is getting on, spin the lid around until the condensation drops off, then you can see what is happening inside the pot.
Cooking Meat in the Slow Cooker
When making crockpot recipes with meat, you will find that most meats need eight hours of crockpot cooking on a low heat. Cheaper cuts of meat work better in a crockpot because they are less fatty. Moist cooking methods and long cooking times with this kind of meat make it incredibly tender.
With meat and poultry slow cooker recipes, the recipes often tell you to put the meat or poultry on the bottom and pour the rest of the ingredients over the top. This is because food cooked in the bottom of the crockpot cooks faster and is moisture because it is immersed in the simmering sauce.
Other recipes instruct you to put dense vegetables such as potatoes or carrots near the bottom because these can take a long time to cook as well. Always follow any layering directions in crockpot recipes carefully.
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