Monday, January 17, 2011

Quick Tips for Crock Pot Cooking

Greg and I love cooking in our crock pot because of the convenience and the delicious slow-cooked results. Here are some handy tips to help you get the most out of your crock pot:

*Chop fresh vegetables into bite-size (1/2 inch) pieces. Vegetables, especially harder ones like carrots or celery, take longer to cook in a crock pot than meat. Using smaller pieces of veggies will ensure that all ingredients are done at the same time. If not otherwise specified by your recipe, place the veggies in the crockpot first, so that they'll cook in the bottom of the pot with the liquid ingredients.

*To thicken the liquids and make a nice gravy for roasts and other crock pot recipes, simply sprinkle a little quick-cooking tapioca granules (1 to 3 tablespoons) over vegetables in the crock pot before adding the liquid ingredients and meat.

*Use frozen chicken pieces for chicken recipes made in a crock pot. Adding the chicken to the crock pot while it's still frozen will keep it tender and ensure that it cooks at the same rate as the other ingredients instead of ending up overcooked.

*Use cheaper cuts of meat in your crock pot, such as roasts and brisket. Because a crock pot cooks slowly using low heat, the end results will be deliciously tender and full-flavored. Venison and other game is also ideal for crock pot cooking.

*For richer flavor, brown roasts and other larger pieces of meat on your stove before adding to the crock pot for cooking.

*Unless your recipe calls for stirring during the cooking process, resist the urge to remove the lid during cooking. The crock pot relies on the heat building up inside it during the cooking process, so it's best to leave the lid securely on while your food cooks.

*Cook your potluck contribution in your crock pot. Most crock pot recipes can be left in the crock pot for convenient and warm transport to your destination.

*For easy cleaning, once you've removed your food from the crock pot be sure to unplug it, remove the liner and fill it with hot soapy water to soak (do NOT add cold water to a hot liner or it could crack!) Let the liner soak while you eat or even overnight, and any caked-on food will easily wash off with a sponge or other non-abrasive cleaning pad.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

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