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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ten Tips For Using Your Crockpot

by Audrey Okaneko

You'll find ten tips in this article to make your crockpot cooking come out perfect every time.

In today’s busy world, more and more people are using crockpots to prepare the families evening meal. I know some folks who have two crockpots. They use the large one to prepare meats or poultry and they use the small one to prepare side dishes and desserts.

There are many tips to make using your crockpot even easier:

1. Don’t lift the lid to take a peak. I have read over and over that if you do lift the lid, you need to add 20 minutes cooking time.

2. Vegetables and potatoes take longer to cook in a crockpot. It’s always suggested that you place potatoes and vegetables on the bottom, layering the meat and sauces on the top.

3. Regular milk can curdle in the crockpot due to long cooking times. Consider using either canned milk, or adding the milk during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Since you’ll be lifting the lid, add a bit of cooking time to the recipe directions.

4. For recipes that call for ground beef, brown the meat before adding it to the crockpot. It will have a better texture. To confirm you discard all of the grease, pour the meat through a strainer first. Of course making a meat loaf would be the exception to this rule.

5. Trim as much fat off of meats and chicken as you can. Due to long cooking times, the fat melts right into the sauces and adds a bitter taste to the finished product. If cooking poultry remove the skin to avoid the melting fat.

6. Make sure to defrost all meats and poultry prior to putting them in the crockpot. Cooking times are based on defrosted meats.

7. Very little liquid boils away in a crockpot. You can thicken your sauce by removing the cover during the last 30 minutes of cooking. If you still find the sauce is too thin, pour the sauce into a sauce pan and add a bit of cornstarch.

8. Make sure your crockpot is filled at least half way. This prevents both undercooking and over cooking. Do not overfill the crockpot, remembering that very little liquid boils out.

9. Spray your crockpot with non stick cooking spray before adding the ingredients. This will help prevent sticking.

10. If you are using less expensive cuts of meat, consider cooking them in the crockpot as the longer cooking times help make even the toughest pull apart tender.


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