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Cooking 101: Crockpot

Asnow89 November 13, 2013 User blog:Asnow89

What is a crock-pot/slow cooker?

Slow cooker basic
A slow cooker, also known as a Crock-Pot, is a counter-top electrical cooking appliance that is used for simmering, which requires maintaining a relatively low temperature, allowing unattended cooking for many hours of pot roast, stews, soups, "boiled" dinners and more. This often produces moist and tender meats and dishes.

How does it work?


Raw food and a liquid (such as water, wine, or stock) are placed in the slow cooker. Some recipes call for preheated liquid. The cooker lid is put on and the cooker is switched on.

The heating element heats the contents to a steady temperature in the 79–93 °C (175–200 °F) range. The contents are enclosed by the crock and the lid, and attain an essentially constant temperature. The vapor that is produced at this temperature condenses on the bottom of the lid and returns as liquid.

The liquid transfers heat from the pot walls to its contents, and also distributes flavors. A lid is essential to prevent warm vapor from escaping, taking heat with it and cooling the contents.

Tips & Tricks

  • For best results, a slow cooker should be between half and two thirds full.
  • To keep foods out of the food danger zone, always use fully thawed meats.
  • Browning meat and sautéing vegetables in a skillet before adding them to the slow cooker will greatly improve the flavor of your meal.
  • If you dredge your meat in a little flour before browning, you will get a thicker sauce.
  • Dairy products, like sour cream, milk or yogurt, tend to break down in the slow cooker. To prevent this, add them during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  • If you're using herbs, select whole leaves and spices, and use half the normal amount.
  • If you're using ground herbs, add them in the last hour of cooking.

Slow Cooker Recipes

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Appetizers & Side Dishes
The crock-pot can be used for much more than stews and main courses. You can make cheese fondu, beans, vegetables, and more! Check out these great appetizer and side dish recipes.

Recipes:Bourbon Baked Beans, Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers, Crockpot Hot Parmesan-Artichoke Dip, Sugared Crockpot Nuts

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Stews & Roasts
Stews and roasts work so well in the crockpot because often they use tough, fatty meats (like rump roasts or shoulder meat) that needs to be cooked for several hours to break down.

Recipes:Crock Pot Persian Lamb Stew, Crockpot Beef Brisket with Fall Vegetables, Easiest Ever Pot Roast, South Pacific Pork Roast

Never fear burning a dessert again if you use your crockpot. Put the dessert in the crock-pot before you get dinner started. It will be ready by the end of your meal!

Recipes:Crockpot Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding, Slow Cooker Pumpkin Pie Pudding, Crockpot Triple Chocolate-covered Peanut Clusters, Crockpot Caramel Fondue

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