Slow cookers are meant to make our lives easier without sacrificing the quality of a meal to do so. Typically, you simply put your ingredients in the slow cooker and walk away. Simple enough, right?
While slow cookers are a great tool to have in the kitchen, there are still some mistakes that you should avoid when using them. Below is a list of 10 common slow cooker mistakes to avoid!
1) Not brining or searing the meat beforehand
While not everybody is keen on browning the meat before placing it into the slow cooker, there are a couple of reasons why you might want to consider it. Firstly, it adds more flavor to the meat and secondly, it makes for an aesthetically pleasing dish. In addition, brining helps to make the meat juicier.
2) Adding dairy too soon
Some dishes require curd but if you want to avoid a lumpy meal, make sure to add the dairy towards the end of cooking. This will ensure that you have a smooth sauce.
3) Opening the lid while food is cooking
We know, it’s confusing. One minute we’re saying to add dairy towards the end of cooking and now we’re saying not to open the lid. Here’s the thing, opening the lid to peek inside or even to stir will alter the cooking time. Does that mean you can never do it? Of course not. Some ingredients, like dairy and herbs, should be added later on in the cooking process. Just don’t go opening the lid just to smell the dish. When adding ingredients, make it quick and add on a few minutes to the cooking time!
4) Not defrosting frozen meat
It’s essential to thaw out your meat before placing it into your slow cooker. Though some claim that they cook frozen meat all of the time in theirs, remember, you do so at your own risk. The problem with cooking frozen meat in the slow cooker is that it might not cook to a safe temperature. You can find the USDA’s guidelines for minimum safe cooking temperatures here.
5) Adding too much liquid
Too much liquid can result in a big mess. Unlike cooking on a stovetop, evaporation doesn’t occur. Just make sure to modify your recipe to avoid having to clean up food that overflows. Keep in mind, fruits, vegetables, and fatty cuts of meat give off their own liquid as well.
6) Cooking chicken with the skin on
Who doesn’t love crispy chicken? Unfortunately, you’re less likely to get it from chicken cooked in a slow cooker so toss the skin before cooking.
7) Incorrect layering of ingredients
It’s important to layer your ingredients in a slow cooker by how fast (or slow) they cook. Your meat will almost always be on the bottom followed by everything else. Just make sure to follow the recipe!
8) Using the wrong kind of meat
Avoid cooking lean meats in your slow cooker as it will become tougher much quicker than fattier meats that retain their tenderness.
9) Cooking food too fast
Slow cookers are given that name for good reason! Don’t rush the cooking time. Let the device do the work for you.
10) Adding too much alcohol
Unlike when cooking food on the stove, alcohol reduces at a much slower rate in a slow cooker. Thus, it isn’t eliminating much of the alcohol content. Instead, try cutting back on the amount of alcohol that a recipe calls for. Unless boozy food is your thing.
Happy slow cooking!
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