It’s there. In a box in a cabinet, closet, or basement. You think about taking it out, but then what? Who has a recipe? How do you use this thing? Will you turn into your mother?
It doesn’t matter whether someone gave you your slow cooker or you bought it because the idea of having dinner done by 10 a.m. was so tempting. It’s there and it’s time to dust it off and use it. You will not turn into your mother and you will have a free afternoon. Welcome to my new series for MyVeronaNJ, “Crock It!“.
In “Crock It!” I will share with you some of my favorite recipes and include my notes and experiences. Many of these recipes are kid friendly and are great for days when there is an afternoon activity and there is no time to “make” dinner. They are healthier than pizza and really do free up your afternoon. I even use my slow cooker in the summer when it’s too hot to cook and it’s not a weekend when we are grilling.
My Crock-Pot was a Christmas gift several years ago. I think it was probably another year before I actually used it. Since then, I’ve made some really bad meals, some really good meals, and some that started out OK but needed some improvement. The trick is to find good recipes and to not be afraid of a little experimentation.
If you are new to using a slow cooker, there are some basics you need to know first. I’ve read many tips and will give you the brief, but important, short version.
- In many cases, meat will need to be browned first on the stove and then put in your slow cooker. This raises the internal temperature of the meat to avoid bacteria growth and therefore illness. Not all recipes require it, and those are the ones I usually try first.
- Many recipes combine a meat/poultry, vegetables, seasonings and liquid to create a flavorful braised dish. The ingredients all cook together slowly (around 250 degrees) so flavors meld and meats tenderize. It’s a great way to get value from an inexpensive cut of meat that would otherwise be tough.
- You can get a really good slow cooker for around $35 or you can pay $200. The choice is yours, but I’d go for the $35 model. Preferably one with a “warm” setting.
So watch for posts with the words “Crock It!” in the headline and tags. I promise you will learn how to have dinner done before you go to work or leave your house for the day.