Adapt Your Recipes to a Slow-Cooker in 5 Easy Steps
Once you understand how a slow-cooker works, you’ll want to use it nearly all the time because of how practical it is. But you need to learn the right cooking techniques for a flawless result.
You might think that all you need to do is simply place the ingredients in a slow-cooker, and let it do the work for you, but it’s unfortunately not always the case. Experience proves that you will obtain much tastier results when you brown meat and poultry with garlic and onions before placing them in the slow-cooker. This step needs to be done in small quantities, because if you put too much meat in a pan, it will boil instead of browning properly. If you need to, remove the liquid that forms during cooking.
2. Place the ingredients in the right order
Root vegetables cook more slowly in the slow cooker than in the oven. Cut them into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces and place them in the slow-cooker first. On this layer, you can then place the meat or poultry.
3. Reduce the quantity of liquid by half
Since a slow-cooker cooks at low temperature and has a lid, the cooking liquids won’t evaporate. As a general rule, slow-cooking needs around 50% less liquid. If you notice there is too much liquid once you’ve finished cooking, you can filter this broth into a saucepan and boil it until it reaches the desired consistency. You can also add thickening agents like flour or corn starch.
4. Adjust cooking times
For each hour of traditional cooking, factor 8 hours of cooking on low heat, or 4 hours on high heat. If you are unsure, cook on low heat throughout the day or overnight. Slow-cookers usually range from around 100°C/200°F low heat, and 150°C/300°F high heat. While you can use it to cook pretty much all meats, a slow-cooker is ideal to cook chicken on the bone or cheaper cuts of meat, which are often tougher and need longer cooking times. When it comes to fish and shellfish, add these around an hour before the end of cooking, and switch the slow-cooker to low heat.
5. Add some ingredients at the end of cooking
The following ingredients should be added only at the end:
- Fine herbs and spices: their flavor weakens in a slow-cooker. It is therefore best to add them at the end of cooking, and add a little more than for a traditional recipe.
- Green peppers: they become bitter if they are cooked too long. Add them 10 to 15 minutes before the end, at high heat.
- Dairy products: you’ll want to avoid the fat separating and giving the dish an unappetizing appearance. Add them at the end to warm them through without cooking them.
- Pasta and rice: you’ll want to avoid them becoming sticky. Cook them separately and add them to the slow-cooker during the last 30 minutes.
There you have it. You are now ready to adapt your favorite recipes to the slow-cooker, and look forward to the delicious smell of a slow-cooked meal that will welcome you home from work.
Try some of our slow-cooker recipes: