For many people, active lifestyles mean using a slow cooker to have satisfying dinners. This does not, however, have to result in limited options. There are more choices for delicious meals than many people realize. Learning to convert recipes to slow cooker fare will create numerous options for tasty and convenient dining.
Selecting the Meat
Converting a recipe for use in a slow cooker often means reconsidering the cut of meat. If a recipe calls for chicken breasts, for example, consider dark meat poultry alternatives instead. Cuts that have lots of fat and connective tissue to break down over time will get tender without getting mushy in a slow cooker. Also consider a brisket or pork shoulder for recipes in which those would be applicable substitutions.
For the best results, the meat should also be browned before going into the slow cooker. Browning is one of the most important steps in getting the best flavor from the meat. It also renders the fat properly, resulting in a better texture and lack of greasiness in the cooker.
Seasoning and Flavoring
Powerful seasonings and flavors will not develop the same way as on a stove top, so care should be taken not to be too aggressive. Be especially sparing with potent spices such as cayenne. To get the most rich and complex flavor from wine in a recipe, reduce it somewhat before adding it to the cooker.
Amounts of Liquid
For larger cuts, a little more liquid is necessary to get the meat cooking. The additional liquids create steam in the slow cooker’s pot, and that helps to break down the meat. With smaller cuts, less liquid is required. Too much liquid can result in an overly watery meal. The lid remains on a slow cooker for extended periods, and that keeps the liquids accumulating in the pot. If the end result does have too much liquid, some of it can be transferred to a sauce pan and reduced on the stove before returning to the larger pot for serving.
These guidelines can make it simple to convert family favorites to slow cooker recipes. Stews and braised dishes often translate effortlessly. Convenience and delicious flavor are easily in reach.
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