Using a slow cooker seems very simple. You just have to dump ingredients in the pot, turn it on, go to work, and can expect a tasty meal once you come home.
You also might have read great user experiences from slow cooker reviews online. “It’s a miracle,” they say. “My stew was more flavorful with Crock-Pot,” they say. But when you don’t know how to properly cook food with it, you might come home to a bland or overly flavored dish, a mushy gush, or a weirdly gross mixture.
To prevent these things from happening , here are the common slow cooker mistakes you will want to avoid:
1. Opening the lid while the dish is still cooking.
This is the number one no-no in terms of slow cooking. A slow cooker works by trapping the heat inside over a long time, so when the slow cooker loses heat, it will take some time to gain it back. You don’t want to extend your cooking time again, so give up the urge to peek. The lid is already transparent. Be patient because it’s already doing all the work for you.
2. Adding raw meat and failing to brown it.
While it’s okay to put raw chicken meat in the slow cooker, other types of meat should be browned first on the stovetop to give your dish a better, heartier taste.
3. Choosing the wrong meat cuts for the wrong setting.
Slow cookers are great for tenderizing cheap cuts of meat. Cooking fattier, less tender meat cuts like flank steak, pork ribs, and pork shoulders are better because they cook slow and tender on a low setting. These types of meat won’t fall apart unlike the tender ones. Lean cuts like chicken breasts and pork tenderloin, however, can still be cooked slowly, but you need to reduce its cooking time and increase its temperature. Once lean meats are cooked for a long time, they will get tough and stringy.
4. Not removing excess fat from meat.
Fat adds flavor and moisture to the dish, but too much fat can create an oily, greasy liquid on top of your food.
5. Not submerging ingredients under liquid.
Make sure that all ingredients – especially meat – are submerged in the liquid you may be using, whether its water, broth, vegetable stock or liquors such as wine. This will ensure that the food is cooked evenly.
6. Forgetting to layer ingredients properly.
Foods that take a longer time to cook must be placed at the bottom of the pot, such as meat and root vegetables, then put the more delicate ingredients on the top. This also results in an evenly-cooked dish and brings you just the right texture. It should also be done as well to avoid an overcooked mush.
7. Using chicken with skin on.
Sorry, but chicken skin will not look good or be delicious in a slow cooker. It will just turn rubbery and gelatinous, and there’s a 98% chance that you won’t like how it would taste. Save your skin-covered chicken for frying, grilling, or baking.
8. Adding dairy, seasoning or herbs too early.
Timing is everything. If you splash milk before letting your dish cook for hours, it will curdle and form gross white lumps. If you put herbs and spices together with meat and vegetables, it will wilt and lose its flavor. If you add a bunch of salt at the very beginning, your dish might get too salty. It’s better if you add them about 30 minutes before cooking is finished.
9. Overfilling or underfilling the pot.
If you overfill your slow cooker, the food will steam instead of simmer. If you underfill it, the dish will get burnt. Fill your vessel half-way to two-thirds full for the right touch.
10. Using too much liquor.
Wine and other alcoholic liquids do not boil down in a slow cooker, unlike when using a stovetop pot where alcohol can be cooked off. Don’t try putting a lot of liquor in your slow cooker dish, unless you want a harsh and boozy-tasting dish. Try cooking with the alcohol first after browning your meat, then add it to the slow cooker.
Now that you know what to do, you can start your slow cooking journey. Choose from the best slow cookers available, after looking for slow cooker discounts, because you deserve the convenience and practicality using a slow cooker would provide.