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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Slow Cooker & Crock-Pot Cooking / Utilizing A Crock Pot
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    Utilizing A Crock Pot

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    Susie D
    Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:03 pm
    Forum Host
    USING THE CROCKPOT
    By Lorraine of AZ

    xxxxxx

    Those who are beginning cooks face many of the same problems as moms with 3 children under the age of 5 or cooks whose interest in cooking is diminishing. That is, they all face the problem of time spent in the kitchen and how much effort to invest in each meal. Each of these cooks needs to make as much use of helpers in the kitchen as possible. Granted, maids would be the most complete helper, but lacking a maid, many turn to their crockery- cooker, otherwise known as the crockpot. This helper is the original “set it and forget it!’ appliance. You put your food into the cooker in the morning and then go about your business: and at dinnertime, the meal is magically ready. Robin Miller of the Food Network regularly touts the advantages of crockpot cooking. She uses hers to prepare one meal in the crockpot, and then uses a portion of that meal to create a whole new meal later in the week.

    xxxxxx

    To get the best results from your crockpot there are certain guides that, if followed, will produce the best results. Probably the number one rule that is stressed everywhere is:

    1. Do not open the cooker during the cooking time as this allows heat (in the form of steam) to escape. Since nothing can burn in a slow-cooker, there’s no need to stir and therefore no real reason for uncovering the pot. If you must open the pot during the cooking, add 20 minutes to the cooking time as it takes that long for the heat to build back up.

    2. Broadly speaking, one hour of cooking at the high setting is the equivalent of 2 hours of cooking at the low setting.

    3. Crockery cookers are ideal for cooking less expensive cuts of meat, such as brisket, chuck roasts and pork shoulder. Long, slow cooking at the low setting tenderizes the meat and minimizes shrinkage. Chef Mike Roy, author of “Mike Roy’s Crock Cookery” strongly recommends flouring and browning meats before adding them to the crockery cooker. The purpose for this is twofold: first, it insures that the meat is sealed and will retain its juices during cooking; and second, browning helps to enhance flavors.

    4. It is also a flavor-enhancer to soften the vegetables before adding them to the crockpot. This dramatically improves the quality of the dish for two reasons, according to Judith Finlayson, author of “175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics”. Browning the veggies, adds color and also begins the process of caramelization, which breaks down the natural sugars in foods and releases their flavor. Browning does not take as long as peeling and chopping the vegetables, which you much do anyway. Brown them in the same skillet you browned the meat in and toss in any hebs and spices with the softening vegetables to help produce a sauce in which the flavors are better integrated than they would have been if this step had been skipped.

    5. Cooking in the crockpot generates liquid. Because the cooker is tightly seals, the liquid doesn’t evaporate as it does in other types of cooking. So another rule of successful slow cooking is to reduce the amount of liquid. To keep the flavor level high, it is preferable to use stock rather than water.

    6. Chicken is often overcooked in the crockpot. It does not need as long a cooking time as beef; generally six hours is enough time, if cooked on low. Judith Finlayson recommends leaving the skin on poultry white meat to maintain moisture and flavor. Skin may be removed when serving, if desired. Legs and thighs stand up well to slow-cooking so the skin may be removed before cooking to reduce the fat content of the dish.

    7. .Crockery-cookers are ideal for making meat stocks, too. Boiling meat stocks on the stove will cause them to become cloudy. However, stocks will not boil on the crockery-cooker’s low setting, so they are clear, full-flavored and wonderfully versatile.

    8. The crockery-cooker makes fabulour beans, too., if a few preliminary ssteps are followed. Rick Rogers, in his book “Ready and Waiting” suggests presoaking the beans overnight which seems to yield the best results. Precooking the beans is his second recommendation. Precook soaked beans by placing in a large pot and adding water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the beans are just tender. Avoid adding tomatoes and salt to beans until near the end of the cooking time; either of these will toughen them. Now proceed with the recipe of your choice.

    9. Crockpots are as handy in the summer as they are in the winter. Using one keeps the kitchen – and the cook – cool. They may be used to make side dishes to accompany a BBQ or even to bake desserts in! Then, too, there are many meals that are great to have on hand in the crockpot when the family is coming and going at irregular times. They only need to help themselves to an already cooked meal.

    Too many rules? Not really. These are really just for reference. The most important things to remember are follow your recipe and don’t lift the lid! As you become more proficient, the other guidelines may be of help to you.

    xxxxxx

    Okay! Let’s try this out. Here is what was probably the first recipe to gain popularity in the crockpot:

    College Favorite in a Crock Pot

    I like to make this recipe with a seven-bone chuck roast or short ribs In keeping with the guidelines above, I season it with Paula Deen’s House Seasoning (1 cup salt, 1/4 cup black pepper, and 1/4 cup garlic powder) and then dredge it in flour. I then brown the meat and pop it into the crockpot. In the "olden days" this browning step was omitted, but nowadays the meat is always browned.
    After adding remaining ingredients, I often will add a large can of drained mushroom slices. This is so-o good and is the perfect meal to introduce you to your crockpot!

    Now, if you were Robin Miller, you would look at your leftovers and think of another way to serve them later in the week. Try shredding the meat with two forks while it is still warm, and use later for taco or burro filling. Super!

    xxxxxx
    Do you want crockpot recipes? Just type “crockpot” into the search box and you’ll have tons. There are a number of cookbooks available also. If you don’t believe me, just check out Amazon.com or Alibris.com. Here are some crockpot cookbooks that I either own or have seen and like very much. I will not list the number of cookbooks put out by Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Better Homes and Gardens and Rival, as they are well-known and readily available in libraries.

    “Cook Once, Eat Twice: More Than 200 Recipes. Tonight’s Stew becomes tomorrow’s Wrap, Sandwich, Pizza, Salad, or Casserole” All right, this is an exception to the “no BH&G rule, but the concept is so good, I think you will enjoy looking this over. More than 200 recipes are given for tonight’s meal and then part of tonight’s meal becomes a meal for later in the week, much as we discussed above. For instance, Spicy beef Sloppy Joes becomes Spicy Beef Taco Salad. Creamy Basil Chicken becomes Chicken & Wild Rice Chowder. Italian Eggplant Stew becomes Individual Caponata Pizzas. Remind you of Robin Miller's plan?

    "5-Ingredient Slow cooker Recipes. " Hmmm, another BH&G book. Beginning – or tired—cooks will appreciate the concept of this book: pop 5 ingredients (not counting water, salt or pepper.) into the crockpot to have a meal that is ready and waiting Fewer ingredients mean less shopping, less preparation for the cook but does not mean bland unappetizing food with this book.

    “3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes: 200 Recipes for Memorable Meals” by Suzanne Bonet. You like the few ingredients concept? This book is for you! “Three ingredients (again not counting salt, pepper or water) ensure that the slow cooker is utilized as intended, “says the author, “as an appliance that makes your life easier, simpler, less costly, and more satisfying.” You’ll find recipes for Adobo Stew, Coq au Vin, Cornish Gam Hens in Wine Sauce and Vegetarian Sloppy Joes.

    “Slow Cookers for Dummies – A Reference for the Rest of Us” by Tom Lacalamita and Glenna Vance. And a complete reference this is. Not only is there an impressive collection of recipes in 10 categories, but there are tips and troubleshooting hints and a section of 3 Master Recipes as well. The Master Recipe is an extra-large batch of some tasty thing – either pasta sauce, chicken broth or turkey breast. You make up the Master Recipe and freeze in 4 serving portion, available when needed. Also included are a variety of recipes that use these frozen portions with readily available ingredients to make a new dish.

    “Fix It and Forget It” by Phyllis Pellman Good and Dawn J. Ranck. An old standby full of good, easy recipes. This is a group of five books actually, so you can pick the one that suits you. One is the basic book. Others are: “Fix It and Forget It Lightly” for lower caloric meals, “Fix It and Forget it for Entertaining,” “Fix It and Forget It for Diabetics” and “The Five Ingredient Fix It and Forget It Book”

    “Quick Crockery Cooking: by Cyndi Duncan and Georgie Patrick. The authors say this book is for busy women who literally only have time for one foot In the kitchen. Lots of easy, delicious recipes here, many having few ingredients.

    “Not Your Mother’s Slow cooker Cookbook and “Not You Mothers Slow Cooker Cookbook for Two” both by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman. You can choose the one that matches your family. The Slow Cooker Cookbook for Two features recipes for the 1-1/2 to 2 quart crockpots and is perfect for singles or couples.

    The books above are only the tip of the iceberg of crockpot cookbooks. And we haven’t even mentioned the crockpot recipe magazines that come out on the newsstands yearly, usually in January. Watch for them and glance through them. Personally I am a sucker for these periodicals. I use them for my bedtime reading!

    xxxxxx
    bmxmama
    Mon Sep 03, 2007 7:09 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    I love my crockpot and use it for so many things. I use it to make chicken stock, so that way if I forget...it's not going to be to bad of a deal because my crockpot has a timer on it and turns itself to warm. Some of my favorites...

    Chicana...mexican I Think?
    Beans N' Ham Hocks
    Crock Pot Chicken or Turkey Stock ( I pretty much do the same as this recipe, but I've never used it before)
    lauralie41
    Mon Sep 03, 2007 10:33 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    becky watkins
    Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:54 am
    Food.com Groupie
    Susie,
    I am still in the process of reading all about the Crock Pot. I absolutely love them!!! Anyway, recently sent my son and his fiancee one and hope they will use it. Thank you for posting all this info!!!!!! I really do appreciate it and will definetly pass it on to my other sons.
    Love,
    Becky icon_biggrin.gif
    becky watkins
    Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:07 am
    Food.com Groupie
    Susie,
    Thanks for the cookbook suggestions!! I am just like you, I can take a cookbook to bed and read it like a novel!!! LOL
    What fun!!! And what ideas you can come up with!!
    Thanks so much!
    Love,
    Becky icon_biggrin.gif
    becky watkins
    Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:10 am
    Food.com Groupie
    bmxmomma,
    Thank you for the recipes!! They look great!!! Susie mentioned also about cooking your chicken and turkey stock in the crock pot. I never thought of doing that!!!! Amazing!!! It makes sense!!!! Just never occurred to me!! icon_wink.gif
    Thank you especially for the chicken and turkey broth you posted!!!
    Have a terrific day!
    Love,
    Becky icon_biggrin.gif
    becky watkins
    Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:15 am
    Food.com Groupie
    Lauralie,
    As usual, you share so many great recipes!!! Thank you, my friend!!!! I am really interested in the zucchini souffle I saw!!! I really like zucchini and when you grow it, it really produces like a weed!!! So, a zucchini souffle. That sounds so neat!!!! I will have to try it!!
    Thank you so much, sweetie!! icon_biggrin.gif
    dicentra
    Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:21 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    I have a crock pot cookbook that I found at a thrift store. "The Unwatched Pot". GREAT book!

    Here are a couple of our favorites:
    Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore
    Navy Bean Soup in the Crock Pot
    Ham Hocks and Beans
    White Chicken Chili
    Crock Pot Pork Roast With Garlic

    On a side note, I am never going to try and make French Onion Soup in the crock pot again! It tasted wonderful, but the house smelled like onions for DAYS! LOL. icon_rolleyes.gif icon_redface.gif
    Rita~
    Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:53 pm
    Forum Host
    Nice job!
    It is getting to that time of the year to pull out the crock pot! Nothing better then coming home to the aroma of a meal waiting to be devoured.
    Take a look at my
    Crockpot or slow cooker recipes some good info and recipes there too.
    Also My picture and reviews of recipes made
    http://www.recipezaar.com/photos.php?photog=58104&ls=pd&categ=225


    Last edited by Rita~ on Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total
    Cinnamom in Illinois
    Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:42 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    Thanks so much, everybody, for contributing to this topic. Lately, we've had to split time between several different households what with kids in college, Mom needing help, etc. Am using the crockpot more and more, especially as leaner cuts can be slow-cooked with less fat and are good for Mom's special diet -- and probably not so bad for us too!

    My family's favorite right now is chicken breasts with low-fat cream cheese and Italian salad dressing at a 6-8 hour setting.

    Can't wait to try more recipes -- thanks again!
    kiwidutch
    Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:14 am
    Food.com Groupie
    I got a crock pot two years ago and I make a LOT of stock ( veggie or chicken or beef) or soup just for me, with it but have had less success with meats, I like them but DH likes it less...

    Part of the problem is that meat here is very expensive ( compared to what I know in NZ and have seen in the UK or France or Portugal) and Dutch butchers cut up the beasts differently ( to New Zealand at least) so there is no silverside/corned beef here for example,becuase that cut doesn't exisit here.

    I do have access to cheap(er)stewing beef it's called "sucadelappen"... it needs to cook for several hours in an oven and i'd like to cook it more often in the crockpot but this comes in thick slices and many crockpot recipes are for big chunks of brisket etc.

    We also adore lamb and lamb neck chops are good here and of course ground beef...

    does anyone have ideas for recipes please for these three so that I can start experimenting and using my crockpot more?

    We like really soft meat with lots of gravy and (DH isn't a huge fan of tomatoes or tomato sauce) .... Thanks !
    *Parsley*
    Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:47 am
    Food.com Groupie
    dicentra
    Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:03 am
    Food.com Groupie
    kiwidutch, my crockpot cookbook has several lamb recipes. Would you like me to post them for you?

    Stroganoff, curry, cassolet, stew... I think you could do anything with lamb that you would with beef.
    bmxmama
    Wed Sep 05, 2007 12:55 pm
    Food.com Groupie
    becky watkins wrote:
    bmxmomma,
    Thank you for the recipes!! They look great!!! Susie mentioned also about cooking your chicken and turkey stock in the crock pot. I never thought of doing that!!!! Amazing!!! It makes sense!!!! Just never occurred to me!! icon_wink.gif
    Thank you especially for the chicken and turkey broth you posted!!!
    Have a terrific day!
    Love,
    Becky icon_biggrin.gif


    Your welcome Becky!
    Charmie777
    Tue Sep 11, 2007 2:04 pm
    Forum Host
    Here are crock pot recipes that I like to use!!

    What a CROCK!
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