7 Crock Pot Cooking Tips for Tender and Flavorsome Meals
Want to learn few crock pot cooking tips to make the most out of your meals? I have compiled 7 tips below that will make your food more tender and juicy. Try them on your slow cooking and taste the difference!
1. Choose the Right Meat
Some meats don’t cook well in a slow cooker while others become tender juicy while cooking. Leaner means such as pork tenderloin will dry out quickly over extended periods of time and do better cooked in a skillet or oven. Chuck roasts and pork shoulders are some of the best meats because they are both fatty and tough and can withstand being cooked for hours and coming out thick and juicy.
A tip while picking out meats for the slow cooker; the fattier and tougher it is the better it will come out. It is also known that dark meat does well in the slow cooker because it is less likely to dry out, while white meat dries out much quicker.
2. Don’t Rush- Cook Low and Slow
Meals cooked in the slow cooker shouldn’t be rushed and definitely shouldn’t be last minute meals with hungry guests waiting to be fed. The food should be left to cook at least 3-4 hours on average, but can be cooked for much longer than that for an even juicier meat. The temperatures, for the most part, should rarely reach above 300.
It’s important for the time to be stretched out, and for the meat to have time to get juicy and tender while cooking. If the time if rushed and the temperature increased it’s more likely the meat will burn or become dried out.
3. Keep it Moist
It’s an important task to make sure the meat doesn’t have too much or too little liquid. The meat should not be completely covered in liquid because this will cause the meat to boil for hours and become dried out. It is also important that the meat has enough liquid so it can cook and absorb it for a juicier taste. This can be vegetable juice, sauces, stock, or even water, anything that the meat can absorb.
The liquid should come up to about half the height of the meat, sometimes a little more. Cooking the meat with different sauces and mixtures, such as honey and barbecue sauce, will cause the meat to absorb different flavors when cooked.
4. Keep the Lid on
All cooks love to check on their food and smell the delicious aromas escaping their slow cooker, but resisting the urge can lead to juicier meat! Every time the lid comes off, even for a moment, the heat escapes and the meat doesn’t cook as well. The heat has to remain inside the cooker so it can build up and slow cook correctly.
Unless the recipe calls for the lid to be removed, it is important to take that lid off as few times as possible. If the meat needs to be checked for softness, wait until the last 30 to 40 minutes of cooking to make sure that the meat has cooked for long enough beforehand.
5. Don’t Overfill the Slow Cooker
Most slow cookers should only be filled up 2/3 of the way full of meat, vegetables, and liquid. Filling it all the way to the top could cause it to cook differently, take longer amounts of time, and could potentially be a fire hazard! Make sure you read the manual to figure out how full it can be filled, and if filling it past that line can be dangerous or not.
If more space is needed, slow cookers come in different shapes and sizes, and a bigger size could be needed to cook certain recipes and meats. Another option is to cook things separately or to try re-arranging the food in the pot to fit more into it.
6. Boost the Flavor
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the meat, vegetables, and anything else and tossing it directly into the slow cooker for an amazing meal. However, when time allows for it, cooking it on the pan for a few extra minutes adds an additional flavor to any home cooked meal.
Just toss the meat in the pan to brown it and sauté any vegetables before tossing them in as well. This will add a crunchy and delicious flavor when the food finishes in the slow cooker. Rolling the meat in flour before browning it makes the sauce come out thicker and bursting with flavor.
7. Add a Splash of Flavor at the End
One way to spice up recipes or try new ones is to add a pinch of something flavorful at the very last minute. Once the meat and vegetables have finished cooking and are ready to be served, sprinkle some herbs, spices, or lemon juice on top. Anything that will bring out a new flavor or cause the meat to taste zesty or hot.
Other spices that work well are garlic, curry, parsley, hot sauce, Parmesan cheese, or even olive oil. Experiment with different flavors on different meats to figure out which topping works best with which meal!