7 Crockpot DON'TS!
Crockpots really are one of the best inventions EVER! I love nothing more than to be able to throw a whole bunch of things in there together and have it simmer all day and come home to a delicious home cooked meal that tastes like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day. It can feed a huge family or give plenty of leftovers for a smaller family. You can do main dishes, dips, desserts, you name it!
It can seem so easy sometimes we can forget that there are ways that things can go wrong.. Here are a few slow-cooker DON’TS!
1. Overfilling the crockpot
Don’t stuff your crockpot to the brim and expect anything other than a mess on your counter when you return. It’s easy to overestimate how much a Crockpot holds. You tend to forget that when everything begins to bubble, the level of liquid in the pot is going to rise. I’ve learned to leave a lot of headroom at the top.”
2. Cooking the Wrong Foods
Although they are famous for making fabulous “dump meals”, not everything belongs in the Crockpot. Things you should not cook in your slow cooker are:
-Thin cuts of meat
-Delicate vegetables such as asparagus and peas. (If you must, add them at the end of cooking time)
-Creamy soups or sauces (Avoid cooking dairy products too long or you could end up with a grainy, gross mess)
-Skin-on poultry (these are better left to be roasted in the oven so the skin gets crispy, instead of unpleasantly flabby)
-Fresh herbs (only add them in the last few minutes of cooking or they will get wilted and brown)
3. Not Using the Right Amount of Water
A lot of us tend to not add enough water causing the food to dry out, while some add too much causing a mess on the walls and surface around the pot. Needless to say, the crockpot cooking process is not totally hands off. It is wise to give it minimal attention and check how things are looking every hour or so.
4. Not Browning the Meats
Your meals will be a lot more flavorful if you brown your meats before throwing them in the crockpot. The exception, however, is chicken.
5. Opening the Lid While the Food is Still Cooking
Most people are away of this golden rule of slow-cookers, yet many are guilty. Try to resist the urge! Let’s be honest--it’s not going to completely ruin your meal, but it will delay your dinner time. It takes a long time for a crockpot to gain all that lost heat back, so fight the urge to peek at your masterpiece before it’s ready.
6. Using Lean Cuts of Beef
Cooking lean cuts of meat in the crockpot is a huge mistake because you’ll end up with something stringy and tough. Since the goal is typically to get something flavorful and tender, this is obviously detrimental.
7. Cooking on High for Too Long
Choosing the correct temperature setting and length of cooking time is an essential part of crockpot cooking. A long cook time used to break down tough cuts of meat is great, but too high of heat combined with a long cook time can be too much. That heat can cause the meat to break down too quickly, resulting in pliable, but stringy results. Jenny Dorsey, a professional chef and culinary consultant recommends searing/browning meats, making sure the braise holds a light simmer and keeping it at a medium heat for best results.
I am definitely guilty of a few of these. Heck, last week I cooked a spiral cut honey baked ham in my crockpot and broke several of these rules resulting in an overcooked, stringy mess. We did end up eating most of it (aka choking it down) and freezing the rest and it was pretty good but I know could have been much better if I wouldn’t have cooked it so dang long.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful as we are fully in crockpot season. I tend to do a lot of Crockpot meals in the wintertime. They are so yummy and comforting and I love the way they make my house smell on a cold winter day.
Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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