The first version of a slow cooker claimed its rightful place on grandmother’s kitchen counter sometime during the 1950s; after over 75 years it hardly seems to have lost its place and popularity.
The mass appeal of the slow cooker lies in its ease of use, and versatility in making hot, delicious meals even for the busiest bunch. These days, a simple search for “slow cooker recipes” results in over 18 million hits on Google alone. With countless more fans on social media sites, it’s no doubt that when used properly, your slow cooker can be one of the best appliances in the house. But with something so easy to use also come mistakes that are easy to make. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when championing the use of your slow cooker.
Layer Food In Proper Order
According to Today, one of the most important things to remember about the slow cooker is that the heat source is at the bottom alone. Layering food properly by putting ingredients that take longer to cook at the bottom and more delicate ingredients on the top, will ensure that food cooks evenly. For instance, meats, beans, lentils, and root vegetables should be placed first with string beans, peas, and other quick cooking vegetables on top. This also results in a texture that is not that of overcooked mush.
Brown The Meat First
Browning meats seals in juices and gives it more flavor. This theory is no different when it comes to slow cooking. Simply sear the meat on a skillet before adding it to the slow cooker. Coating the meat with flour during the searing process also helps to thicken the sauce later, says the Gardening Cook. Also, make sure that the meat is submerged all the way to prevent drying or undercooking.
Use Correct Cut Of Meat
Going along with the theme above, using the correct cut of meat is also key to success. Fattier meat cuts like pork shoulder, short ribs, or flank steak work well because they cook low and slow. Lean cuts like pork tenderloin or chicken breasts can still be used but keep in mind that long cooking time can cause them to be stringy and tough. Chicken with skin on can also cause the final dish to be a rubbery nightmare.
Add Enough Liquid
Perhaps this goes without saying but not adding enough liquid can cause your dish to burn or remain uncooked. When cooking recipes with dry beans or lentils especially, make sure to add enough liquid per the package instructions.