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5. slow cooker tips and tricks

It’s not a secret I love, love, LOVE my slow cooker!  It is the one kitchen appliance I couldn’t live without! This simple bench-top appliance can take humble, inexpensive ingredients and turn them into a delectable meal with very little input from me – Winning!


Slow cookers are great for stews and casseroles and at this time of year, there is nothing better than coming home from work to not only delicious smells but knowing that dinner is done. And you can have a lovely snuggly and warm meal. But don’t limit their abilities roast, soups and even desserts can be created in these cooking wonders.


While it can sound as simple as chucking everything in the crockpot and walking away, there are a few tips and tricks to getting your meals the tastiest they can be.


1.       Take the time to brown off your meat first. What does that mean? Sauté your meat in the frying pan to give it a little brown colour will help stop your slow-cooked wonder from turning into a brown-grey slush. Depending on the dish I will also cook off my onions too giving them a little colour, which can help add another dimension of flavour to your dish.





 2.       Less is sometimes best. I have had many clients and friends complain that when they cook with the slow cooker everything turns out soupy. The slow cooker is a closed cooking method, liquid cannot evaporate off as they would with other cooking styles, meaning that all the liquid gets trapped in. Liquid can come from not only the stock that you add but also leeching from vegetables and meats through the cooking process. This all helps add to the flavour but can leave your dish looking more like soup than a casserole. To combat this, I often choose to use stock concentrates, powders or bone broth concentrates to reduce the amount of liquid in the mix. For my casseroles and stews, I allow no more than about a cup of liquid added through wine (of course) or other sauces.



3.    Go for the cheap stuff. The cheap cuts of meaty such as gravy beef, chuck steak and briskets are perfect for slow cooking. These cuts are high in connective tissue and fat which break down over the cooking periods making them tender and delicious. Leaner cuts of meat tend to dry out and can become chewy.


 4.            If the recipe calls for dairy such as creams, sour creams or milk – add these in at the last 15-30 minutes to avoid them splitting or coagulating leaving you with a lump mess. They just need enough time to eat through.


5.    Vegetable placement matters. Hard root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots cook best when on the bottom of the pot. This helps ensure that they are covered in liquid and cook swiftly. Other veggies like mushrooms and onions can be sprinkled over the top to help infuse their flavours into the meat.



Embrace all the wonders of the slow cooker and please feel free to share your favourite slow cooker recipes below – I’m always looking for new ideas!

 

 

Allison is qualified in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Western Herbal Medicine. As the founder of Fundamental Wellbeing, and has been practicing for over 7 years. Allison specialises in gut health and stress-related conditions and possesses a strong passion for all things health and wellness, while understanding that balance is essential to life, looking for real-world solutions to help clients reach their health goals.

 

 

 

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