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Tips and How to Adapt Recipes to the Crock-pot


 

Tips and How to Adapt Recipes to the Crock-pot
Submitted by: Jerseygirl


Recipes that lend themselves to Crock-Pot cooking are limitless. Almost any
recipe requiring baking or simmering will work beautifully. Here are a few
simple guidelines that will help you prepare your favorites in the crock-Pot:

---allow sufficient time on "Low" setting.

---Remember--liquids don't boil away as in conventional cooking. Usually you'll
have more liquid at the end of cooking instead of less. Try reducing the amount
of liquid in the recipe by about one-half. The exception would be soup recipes
or recipes with long grain converted rice which will need the same amount of
liquid or 1/4 cup liquid per 1/4 cup raw rice.

---Many preparatory steps are not necessary. Vegetables do not need to be
browned or sautéed. In most cases, all ingredients can be added to the Crock-Pot
in the beginning and allowed to cook all day. Exception: milk, sour cream, or
cream should be added during the last hour of cooking.

---The crock-pot cooks so gently that a few extra hours on Low need not
worry you. Any recipe may be cooked on High for the first two hours to
reduce cooking time, then turn to Low.

---Don't take the lid off! It can take a LONG time for the heat to get
back up to the right temperature AND it might not be safe to eat because
of bacteria. Yes, I had to learn this one! I read recently that each time
you take the lid off, it adds 15-30 minutes to the cooking time. Ouch!
Knowing that helps me to keep my hands off. :)

---Pasta and instant rice get mushy when cooked six to eight hours.
Although some have had good luck. It's better to cook them separately
and stir into the other ingredients near the end of the crock cooking time.

---Vegetables cook slower than meat and poultry in a slow cooker, so if using
them, put vegetables in first at the bottom and around sides of the crockpot.
Then add meat and cover the food with liquid such as broth, water or sauce.

---Reheating leftovers in a slow cooker is not recommended. However, cooked
food can be reheated in a microwave oven and then put into a preheated slow
cooker to keep hot for serving.

---Gravy....You can thicken the sauce right in the Crock-Pot® Slow Cooker.
You may remove the food if cooking a roast, leaving the juices in the pot.
Turn your Crock-Pot® Slow Cooker to High. Prepare a smooth paste of about
1/4 cup flour or cornstarch to 1/4 cup water. Pour mixture into liquid in
your Crock-Pot® Slow Cooker and stir well. Let cook 15 to 30 minutes, until
liquid is simmering and thickened. You may also thicken stews in the same way.
OR
you can use a little minute tapioca. This tip is from Better Homes
and Gardens cookbook. For example, in their pot roast recipes they call
for 2 tablespoons, up to 1/4 cup, of minute tapioca for about 2 cups of
liquid. They sprinkle it over the vegetables, then put in meat, then
liquid over all. You can do this for all recipes that you want to thicken
the gravy then, you don't have to rush last minute to thicken the gravy.

If recipe says: ........ Cook in Crock-Pot:

15 to 30 minutes ........ 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours on High or 4 to 8 hours
Low*
30 to 40 minutes ........ 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 10 hours on Low*
50 min to 3 hours ........ 4 to 6 hours on High or 8 to 18 hours on Low*

*Most uncooked meat and vegetable combinations will require at least 8
hours on Low.

General Cooking Times for Specific Foods
Pot Roast 8-12 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH
Stew 10 to 12 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH
Ribs 6 to 8 hours on LOW
Stuffed Peppers 6 to 8 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH
Brisket 10 to 12 hours on LOW
Swiss Steak 8 to 10 hours on LOW
Corned Beef & Cabbage 6 to 10 hours on LOW or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH
Casserole 4 to 9 hours on LOW or 2 to 4 hours on HIGH (stirring occasionally)
Rice (Converted) 5 to 9 hours on LOW or 2 to 3 hours on HIGH
Meat Loaf 8 to 9 hours on LOW
Dry Beans 1 to 2 hours on HIGH plus 8 to 9 hours on LOW
Soup 6 to 12 hours on LOW or 2-6 hours on HIGH
Chicken 7 to 10 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH
Vegetables 2 to 4 hours on LOW with liquid added
Baked Potato 8 to 10 hours on LOW
Artichoke 6 to 8 hours on LOW or 2-1/2 to 4 hours on high (with water)

"I've seen many interesting recipes for the crockpot,
but I've been skeptical because I'm away from home for
12 hours at a time. I would love to be able to come
home to a prepared meal though. Do you have any
suggestions? I know you stated below that a couple of
hours more won't harm a recipe, but how long is too
long? Thanks for your help."

Long days are exactly the reason I bought my crockpot. I was anticipating
working and being away from home for 10-12 hours a day. You might want to get
a timer and program a delay of an hour and an auto shut off. But, I wouldn't
let more than an hour pass either way so, you don't get sick from the food.

I cook primarily chicken in the crockpot and I've noticed if it cooks longer
it's just so tender it falls apart. Also, whole chicken takes longer to cook.
I have also heard that if you use frozen meat you add about 4-6 hours cooking
time on low. Just remember to add 1 c. of water to the meal, if you're adding
frozen items so, you don't get a cracked pot because of the temperature change.
I haven't tested the frozen items yet.

You can also pre-make the next day's meal using liners, baking bags or filling
the crockpot liner and putting it in the fridge. Some recipes call for wrapping
meat and other ingredients in foil and then placing in the stoneware for cooking.
It is also fine to place ingredients in baking bags, place in stoneware, cook
and then lift the bag our of the stoneware for serving. Rival offers cooking
liners through accessory sales. Disposable bag liners. eliminates messy
clean up. Cooks right in bag inside crockpot/slow cooker....Disposable plastic
liners are microwaveable and freezer safe. I've also heard of people using the
oven baking bags.

If you're still having trouble getting something ready the night before, why not do a few days or the weeks menu ahead of time and freeze them in either the liners or oven baking bags. Then, the day before take them out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator. The next morning pop it into the crockpot and away you go. You don't want to put the frozen block into the crockpot because it could crack the stoneware liner. I haven't tried that but, it does sound easy. Let me know if you do that and how it works for you. Just remember you can't freeze milk products but, they really don't work well in the crockpot all day anyways.

Remember to check the owner's manual for your particular crockpot for full
instructions on usage. The above cooking times are only VERY general guidelines.

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