Slow cooker tips every cook should know to help you make tasty food.
The most common question I get asked is how do I stop my food being too watery?
Generally a problem because too much water has been added at the start. Solutions to this are as follows:
- Place a tea towel underneath the lid to absorb condensation.
- Toss meat in a little flour if using.
- Add pearl barley, grains or red lentils.
- Add potatoes , sometimes take few out and crush and pop back in. Or add instant potato granules.
- Take some of the mix out if still a bit runny, blitz with hand blender and pop back in to make it thicker.
- Take a bit of liquid out and mix with cornflour and pop back into the pot at least an hour before finishing cooking and thicken up.
- Gravy granules help thicken the dish.
- Keep the lid closed while food is cooking. Every time you open the lid you delay the cooking process by 20 to 30 minutes.
Slow cookers are ideal for budget batch cooking meals and use very little electricity in comparison to mains oven.
The slow cooker breaks down fat over a long time so great for cheap cuts of meat in stews like lamb shanks, ham hocks, lamb shoulder, chicken thighs and braising steak.
Don’t overfill the pot, go no further than two thirds full.
Place the hardest ingredients that take long time to cook near the bottom. These tend to be root vegetables!
Dried herbs work better than fresh, add at the start so they they release their flavour slowly.
Prepare all your ingredients the night before so it is ready to through in the pot in the morning. Just make sure you get them out of the fridge half an hour earlier if possible to bring up to room temperature.
Warming the pot first helps the ingredients off to a flying start. Be careful adding boiling water to a cold pot though in case it cracks.
With the potential introduction of being rewarded for not using electricity at peak times this winter (if you are on a smart meter) the slow cooker is a great option.
WHAT CAN I MAKE IN SLOW COOKER?
Slow cookers can be used for so many things besides stews and soups! ……. Curries, bread, cakes and jacket potatoes!
Add water and a trivet to the bottom of the pot. Place sponge tins, bread loaf tins and even Christmas puddings!
This is a very efficient way to cook them, no condensation or need to top up the water. Just place a tea towel under the lid to stop water dropping onto them and becoming soggy.
HOW DO TIMINGS COMPARE TO TRADITIONAL COOKING METHODS?
Cook 1-2 hours on high or 4-6 hours on low if a dish normally takes up to 30 minutes in the oven.
Cook for 2-3 hours on high and 5-7 hours on low if a dish normally takes up to an hour in the oven.
Cook for 3-4 hours on high and 6-8 hours on low if a dish normally take up to 2 hours in the oven.
HOW LONG DO I COOK BREAD FOR?
2 hours on high based on a 500g loaf.
HOW LONG DO I COOK JACKET POTATOES FOR?
4 hours on high or 7 hours on low.
WHEN DO I ADD DUMPLINGS, RICE OR PASTA TO FOOD?
The last 30-40 minutes of cooking time.