- I never brown meat before placing in the slow cooker. I really don't find it makes much difference to the end dish, and it sort of defeats the purpose of using the slow cooker in the first place. By the time the meat bubbles away all day it develops a nice rich flavour and texture anyway.
- Slow cookers are VERY versatile and forgiving. Don't be afraid to experiment with recipes or your own creations. I find I can pretty much chuck in anything in the cupboard to cook and it works out fine. The best combinations I like are meat + veggies + tomato of some sort (either tinned tomatoes or bottles of tomato based pasta sauces). Then at the end you can even add sour cream or satay sauce for some different meal ideas.
- Always remember slow cookers produce a lot more liquid than other methods of cooking. What this means is that you don't need to add much sauce or stock to begin with, and in fact your creation usually looks dry to begin with (unless making soup of course). If your meal is too liquidy at the end, thicken with cornflour mixed in a little water.
- Things that need to cook quickly don't usually work very well in the slow cooker. The best example of this is seafood - I haven't really found any recipes that I like with fish or seafood made in the slow cooker.
- The cheaper the cut of meat the better. For example use chicken thighs, chuck steak, lamb shanks etc. Expensive low fat cuts of meat can tend to turn out a bit dry and tasteless.
- Don't keep lifting the lid to stir the food or check on it. You usually only need to stir once late in the afternoon.
- Always cook way more than you need - I like to have enough for 3 meals out of one slow cooker dish (one that night, one the next night, and one to put in the freezer).
- Loan some slow cooker cook books from the library, and photocopy some of the recipes that sound like they would suit you. Then keep a folder of your favorites to have on hand for when life gets busy (and keep the basic ingredients in your pantry and fridge).
- Add any diary products a little while before serving, they only need to be warmed through not cooked.
- Then serve in a variety of ways - I find slow cooker meals all work well with either mash potato, rice, or lovely fresh crusty bread.
What are your favorite meals to cook in the slow cooker??
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