Top Test Kitchen Tips for Slow Cooking
5 Top Test Kitchen Tips for Slow Cooking
1) Take time to brown meat. When it comes to cooking, brown isn't just a color, it's also a flavor — and it can reduce excess grease in a finished dish. Many slow-cooker recipes start by browning meats on the stove top. Some slow-cooker inserts can be used for prebrowning, but be sure to read your manufacturer's directions to check if browning in the insert is recommended.
2) Limit liquid. Unlike other cooking methods, slow-cooking retains and even creates moisture. That's why most slow-cooker recipes call for minimal amounts of liquid ingredients. When adapting recipes to the slow cooker, start with 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid.
3) Don't fill 'er up. It's best to fill the slow cooker no more than half to two-thirds full. If the slow cooker is too full, it will take too long for foods to start simmering. If it's not full enough, you risk overcooking the ingredients.
4) Treat dairy products with care. Generally speaking, such dairy products as milk, cheese, and yogurt should be added toward the end of cooking time to guard against curdling.
5) Cook safely. Never put frozen ingredients directly into a slow cooker. Frozen foods cool the contents of the cooker, prolonging the time food spends at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees, which is the temperature range where bacteria can grow and survive.