Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don’t Put Away Your Slow Cooker

As August draws to an end, September brings us all kinds of activities—kids going back to school, college and pro football games filling up the calendar, thoughts of cooler weather and family-favorite fall recipes.

Here at the office we move from grilled lunches to great leftovers, including stews, soups, and incredible slow cooker recipes. Get your Recipe Box ready for some of the favorites from the Allrecipeeps at the office:
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork (Jenniffer L suggests using ginger ale or Dr. Pepper if you don’t have root beer on hand. It’ll still taste great!)
Charley’s Slow Cooker Mexican Style Meat
Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs
South Carolina Pulled Pork
Easy Slow Cooker French Dip
Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Italian Beef in a Bucket
BBQ Pork for Sandwiches
Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Spicy African Yam Soup (Not specified for slow cooker, but I make it in mine. –Julie F)
Slow Cooker Posole
Slow Cooker Borscht
Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker
Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey (While you lose out on having a pretty turkey for display, the taste is awesome. I served this at Christmas dinner last year and everyone asked me for the recipe. –Joseph)

If you thought your slow cooker was only for use in the winter time, think again. One of the perks to using your slow cooker all year is that it won’t be heat up your home the way an oven or stove would. You can create more than dinner dishes: check out these breakfast and dessert slow cooker recipes.

Haven’t used your slow cooker in a while? Check out these helpful tips from Hamilton Beach® for a refresher.

Hamilton Beach®: Learn The Basics First
Whether you consider yourself a slow cooker novice or have some experience, there are a few things you should know about this method of cooking:
1. If you are not familiar with using a slow cooker, experiment with different cooking times and settings. Getting the results you desire from your slow cooker takes a little practice and the more you use it, the better results you’ll get.
2. A slow cooker is great for foods that are not naturally tender, such as meat with a lot of connective tissue. These are the least-expensive cuts but also the most flavorful.
3. When it comes to overcooking, the size of your slow cooker matters. Most recipes call for cooking on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. If the crock is not filled, it will overcook. To prevent overcooking, the crock (sometimes called stoneware) should be filled half-full to no more than one inch from the rim. However, this does not mean to fill the crock with liquid.
4. The slow cooker version of a recipe will call for less liquid than the oven or stovetop original, where evaporation will occur. So unless you are cooking soup, stew, or chili, do not add too much liquid. You need just enough liquid to cover the bottom of the crock for even heat distribution.
5. If you lift the lid during cooking, your cooking time will increase due to heat loss. Unless your recipe specifically calls for stirring, resist lifting the lid.
6. Always completely thaw frozen meat before placing in slow cooker.

Test Kitchen Tip: Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and processed cheese are better choices than fresh dairy products for use in slow cooker recipes.

Be sure to enter the Southern Menu Sweepstakes for your chance to win a Simplicity Slow Cooker from Hamilton Beach®! Stay tuned for more slow-cooking recipes and tips in the next week.

What are your tips when creating your favorite slow cooker recipe?


I just read Hamilton Beach's tip to always thaw meat first before placing in the slow cooker; however, I specifically use my slow cooker for pork shoulder/butt to make pulled pork, either with a gravy to put over rice that night and then shredding the pork and adding cumin, chile powder, garlic and oregano the next day for shredded pork tacos or burritos! I ALWAYS put the pork shoulder in (bone in or boneless) from a frozen state at about 9 am, cooking on high til about 3 pm or until fork tender, and then turning down to low til dinner. This works very well for me and is one of our favorite dinners year round! Why does it have to be thawed? I sometimes will cook in just a water with some seasonings and half way thru will add BBQ sauce or a seasoning pkg of slow cookery pulled pork seasoning.

It's a food safety issue, not a matter of it not working.