Please remember, cooking times may vary depending on the brand of crock pot, size, and the amount of food & liquid prepared.
Low heat is approximately 200°F degrees,
High heat is approximately 300°F degrees,
This also goes back to depending on your make & model of crock pot you might have.
When your cooking on high it’s approximately half of the cooking time as if you were cooking on low.
Important! - Don’t remove the lid if you can help it, reason being it’ll take about 20 minutes for the crock pot to get back to it’s original temperature it was before.
Stove Top- High Temp / Low Temp
15-30 minutes 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hrs 4 – 8 hours
35-45 minutes 3 – 4 hours 6 – 10 hours
45minutes – 3 hours 4 – 6 hours 8 – 16 hours
*Note*- Ground beef recipes have better flavor and texture if you browned it before adding it to the crock pot. Please note one of the best advantages to leaving ground beef at such a steady temperature for a long period of time, it literally draws out the fat to such a degree, that when it draws out the fat it rises to the surface which makes it so much easier to skim the fat off the top. And also another advantage is that you can purchase cheaper grades of meat because the crock pot itself acts as a meat tenderizer. Beacuse it cooks at one temp, for a long period of time.
Roasts don’t need to be browned, but you can if you so desire. *Note*- Remember to add your dried herbs during the last 1/2 hour of your cooking. Reason being, it’s the same principal because the food itself happens to be at one temp for such a long period of time, it knocks out a lot of the flavor of the herbs.
Cooking Dried Beans in a Crock pot:
The most convenient way to cook a dried bean recipe is to put all the ingredients in the crock pot for 2 to 3 hours on the high setting, then reduce to the low setting for 8 to 10 hours. In a way this is a little inconvenient, because you have to be present after a couple of hours to reduce the heat setting, or unless you have a programmable crock pot which I highly recommend reason being you have more flexibility when cooking.
Also a more traditional way of cooking dried beans is to first put the beans and water in the crock pot, and cook on the high setting 2 hours. Turn your crock pot off, and let beans sit for 8 to 24 hours. Then add the remaining ingredients, and cook on a low setting 8 to 12 hours or until done. You can also use this approach for baked bean recipes, because it allows the flavors to blend and it happens to give it more of an oven-baked taste.
Thick dense vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables should be cut 1″ thick, and put at the bottom of the pot, since they take longer to cook.
Because I like working with broths, I consistently have to remind myself, that whatever I happen to be cooking at the time will release it’s natural juices, so I have to adjust the liquid accordingly. I never go more then half the crock pot. Dish’s that contain rice or pasta, if you add one cup of liquid is usually enough.
Pasta and Rice:
Pasta: If a recipe calls for cooked pasta, I cook it until just slightly tender before adding to the pot.
Rice: add 1/4 extra liquid per 1/4 cup uncooked rice, and use long grain converted rice.
Herbs and Spices:
Ground herbs and spices tend to dissipate over a long period of time, so it’s best to add them about a 1/2 hour before you stop cooking. Whole herbs release flavors over time, so which makes them a good choice for this type of cooking. But you should always taste and adjust seasonings, if need be, before serving.
Milk and Cheese:
Milk, sour cream, and cream, should be added during the last hour. Condensed cream soups are good substitutions for milk and can be cooked for long periods of time. Healthy, or reduced fat cream soups can be used in any recipe as well as a substitute.
Cheeses don’t generally hold up over long periods of cooking, so with that said I would add it near the end of cooking, or you can use processed cheeses and spreads.
Only add water to cover ingredients in soup, and add more after cooking if necessary for a thinner soup. For milk based soups, add 1 or 2 cups of water and during the last hour, stir in milk, evaporated milk, or cream if the receipt calls for it.
Over long periods of cooking, some dishes may need more flavor then others, but some extra prep steps are worthwhile. Even though it isn’t necessary to brown most meats first, flavor is sometimes often enhanced by browning, and in turn fat is reduced. Flouring meat or chicken: then browning it, then deglazing the pan with wine, a little vinegar, or broth, and then adding that to the crock pot can make a big difference in flavor. For the best color and texture: ground beef should be browned before using, except in meatloaf or similar dishes. To make the preparation part easier, brown ground beef, drain, and freeze in batches for your crock pot meals.
To make a sauce or gravy from your cooking liquid:
If you never have worked with roux it’s worth it! Make a roux of flour and water (about 1 tablespoon of each for each cup of liquid) in a medium saucepan. Skim the fat from the cooking liquid in the slow cooker then add the liquid to the roux. Constantly stirring on a simmer, keep stirring until the sauce is thickened, and reduced. Serve this over meat and/or vegetables. You can also add cornstarch dissolved in water (1 or 2 tablespoons cornstarch to 2 or 3 tablespoons cold water), depending on how much liquid you have in the crock pot towards the end of cooking, to thicken the liquids.
1. Uncooked meat & vegetable dishes will require 8-10 hours on low (190°F-200°F) or 4-5 hours on high (290°F-300°F).
2. One hour of simmering, or baking at 350°F in the oven is equal to 8-10 hours on low, or 4-5 hours on high with a crock pot.
3. Never add frozen foods directly to your crock pot, thaw first!!!
4. Crock pots come in a variety of sizes from 2 qt. up to the 8 qt. super pots. It’s best to choose recipes that will fill half of your crock pot, so the surface of the food can be “basted” by the condensed steam under the crock pot’s cover. But the advantages of having bigger crock pot is that you can double, and or even triple the recipes, and freeze left over portions.
5. Be patient! crock pot cooking, takes about 2 hours for the temperature to get to 160°.
6. In most cases it’s not necessary to stir foods in your crock pot, but what I’ve noticed when I’ve stirred the food is that the flavor gets evenly distributed, and the flavor becomes that much more better.
7. Some crock pots have heat coils on the bottom. If your model does, it’s best to put some of the vegetables at the bottom, and then place the meat on top. The vegetables act as a barrier and keep the meat from sticking. And if you want to take it a step further you can take a piece of foil, and create a ring(like a rope), place it on the bottom of the pot, and place your meat on top of it. And then add your liquids to the bottom of the pot, and place the lid. Once you’ve done that your almost creating like a mini stream room for the meat. Try it with brisket, or pork shoulders, and add a little liquid smoke to the liquid! It comes out mouth watering.
8. Reduce liquid in your recipe to 1 cup since simmering foods saves all foods’ natural juices.
9. This is where you make a lot of time for yourself. If your crock pot has the removable stoneware bowl, you can prepare the food to be cooked the night before, and refrigerate in the stoneware bowl. This step is optional: In the morning, place the removable stoneware bowl cooker back in and follow directions for heating. With this option I’ve noticied the following it takes the coils in the crock pot more time to heat up. And in some instances I’ve noticied that because the bowl (insert) is sooo cold, the crock pot itself (coils), can’t heat up enough.
10. Use canned soups, broths, juices, wine, and or water as liquid in your crock pot. *Note*- Please remember that the meat, and or vegetables are going to to let out a lot of it’s own liquid, so just go a little bit under 1/4 to 1/2 way full.
11. Don’t use dairy products, such as milk, sour cream, or cream until the final 30 minutes of cooking.
12. Cook noodles, and macaroni products, towards the end of your cooking.
13. Frozen vegetables and frozen fish should be thawed out first, and then only added during the last hour of cooking. Reason being, it requires very little cooking.
14. Don’t lift the cover of your crock pot!. Every time you do that, you lose heat that is equivalent to 30 minutes of cooking time.
15. Trim as much excess fat off the meat as possible. Important! Fat can increase the temperature of the liquid in the crock pot, and cut down on the cooking time by so much, that you might have an over cooked dish.
16. Browning meats and poultry isn’t necessary, but it creates 2 advantages. 1-Helps to bring out the flavor in your meats. 2-If you brown the meat on all sides; remove and saute vegetables in drippings from the pan, then remove vegetables, and pour out all the remaining fat in the crock pot before returning food, then lower the heat to slow cooking temperature, this also adds a lot of flavor to the dish.
17. If you are in a real hurry at dinner time and want to thicken the liquid from what you’ve been cooking. Pour liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boiling; add the thickening agent that the receipt is calling for, and begin stirring constantly, until gravy thickens and bubbles. What I like to do here as well is, add any additional seasonings that might be needed, but at the same time is not going to make the actual food over baring, because of the additional seasonings added to the gravy!
18. Dry sherry and Madera go well in shellfish and creamed dishes.
19. Dry white wines are for poultry, and veal casseroles.
20. Red wines are best for beef, various kinds of meats and some fish, chicken and duck dishes.
21. You can use dry vermouth if you don’t have any white wine available.
22. Using wines that you normally drink, can be used for cooking as well.
23. Pour a few drops of olive oil on top of the wine, it’ll stay good for a few days. This prevents the air from destroying the wine!
24. Use long handled wooden spoons when stirring foods in your crock pot. This will protect the inside of the crock pot.
25. Don’t allow sudden change in temperatures, by pouring boiling liquids into a very cold crock pot, or putting the hot pot on a cold surface. Remember the insert itself is porous.
26. Never store foods in a crock pot, and then put them in the frigerator. The change in temperature can harm the finish, and or even crack the insert itself.
27. Do not! put crock pot, crockery liners or stoneware pots on electric or on top of gas range, or place it under the broiler.
28. To clean the inside of the crock pot, fill with hot foamy water as soon as pot has cooled down; soak for at least 15 minutes, then rub surface with a cloth, nylon net pad or a sponge, but never use a abrasive cleaners, metal pad or steel wool. Rinse with hot water and wipe dry with a paper towels, or a small towel.
29. To remove mineral stains on the pot itself, fill cooker with hot water and 1 cup white vinegar; cover. Turn heat control to high for 2 hours. Then clean following directions above without soaking the pot for 15 minute.
30. To remove water marks from a glazed pot, rub the surface with vegetable oil and let stand for 2 hours before cleaning. Clean, following directions above without soaking the pot for 15 minute.
31. Also when you have a chance, take a look at the booklet that came with your crock pot, and give it a once over. It might have additional information not mentioned above, and most of the time you can count on receipts being added to your booklet.
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