Ruining perfectly good ingredients using a bad slow cooker recipe is not only an extremely frustrating experience, but also a waste of time and money.
Whether you picked up a cheap slow cooker during the January sales or got one for Christmas, our roundup of expert advice can help you avoid the pitfalls that come with getting to grips with a new one. gadget.
Read on to learn how to tell good slow cooker recipes from bad ones and get great results every time.
Haven’t bought a slow cooker yet? Head to the bottom of this article to see the models we’ve tested recently.
Read our slow cooker reviews to find your perfect model.
My pressure cooker contains too much liquid
This is a pretty easy mistake to make, especially when you start using a slow cooker, since slow cooker stew and casserole recipes don’t need as much liquid as regular recipes. It may be tempting to fill your slow cooker bowl with broth or sauce, but it doesn’t have to be. The lid stays in place while cooking, so virtually no liquid is lost.
If you’re adapting your favorite recipe for a slow cooker, reduce the liquid. Crock Pot suggests using half the recommended amount unless you’re including pasta or rice. Consult your slow cooker’s instruction manual for more information.
Is it fixable?
Yes. Save the stew by removing some liquid if you can. You can also try mixing a small amount of flour or cornstarch with cold water, adding it to the stew and letting it cook.
Another option is to remove everything except the liquid and add butter to thicken it. You can also add gravy granules or granules to thicken the sauce. Morphy Richards suggests removing the lid and using the high setting to simmer for 30-40 minutes to reduce the liquid.
Alternatively, serve with dumplings or crusty bread and enjoy the sauce.
The meat in my stew is dry
Cheaper, fattier cuts of meat such as stewing beef and pork shoulder are better suited for slow cooking. Avoid leaner meats if possible or give them a shorter cooking time. The more marbled the meat, the better it should cook, but remember that any fat will transfer to the dish.
If you have time, browning the meat in a skillet before adding it to your slow cooker will not only help reduce the fat content, but it can also add flavor and make the dish more beautiful.
Is it fixable?
Jerky is not something you can remedy easily, as you won’t know it’s a problem until you taste your recipe. But you can help avoid it by remembering the points above for next time and making sure you use the best cuts of meat for slow cooking and that you cook them long enough.
A big part of slow cooking is trial and error and figuring out what works best for your favorite recipes.
The meat in my dish is tough
The secret to slow cooking meat is “low and slow”. You won’t save much energy by cooking on a faster setting, so don’t be tempted to rush. In our slow cooker survey (October 2021), an impressive 72% of owners said the low setting was the one they used the most, and there’s a good reason for that. Slow cooking allows the meat to tenderize and the flavors of the dish to develop.
Meat tends to cook faster than vegetables in a slow cooker, so Morphy Richards and Crock Pot advise making sure vegetables are placed closest to the sides of the pot or bottom, under the meat, to help any to cook at the same time.
The smaller you cut your ingredients, the faster they cook.
Is it fixable?
It could be. If you’ve only cooked the dish for a few hours and the meat seems tough, consider using the low setting and extending the cooking time. Before recooking your recipe, check that the meat you are using is not too lean.
Don’t be tempted to remove the lid too often during cooking. This will affect how well your slow cooker works and may also increase the overall cooking time.
My Slow Cooker Recipe Has No Taste
There’s nothing more disappointing than waiting eight hours for your recipe to cook, only to find it’s tasteless. But that may be exactly what some people experience.
Sometimes using too much liquid can dilute the flavor while cooking, and not using the best quality meat or the right cuts can also lead to a flavorless dish.
Is it fixable?
Yes. While there’s not much you can do at this point except add fresh herbs or spices near the end of cooking, there are things you can try next time you’re cooking. To get started, check that the meat you’re using is the right kind – savory chicken thighs instead of breast, or meat that’s not too lean, for example.
Don’t use too much liquid and add fresh herbs towards the end. Experimenting with condiments such as Worcestershire sauce can also really help spice up a dull dish.
Try browning the meat and vegetables first. Some slow cookers, like the Morphy Richards Sear and Stew, allow you to brown the meat on the griddle first, then use the same pan for slow cooking. Not only does this help develop flavor, but it also means you save on washing up.
Don’t know where to start and need help? Find out how to use your slow cooker.
What not to put in your slow cooker
Some ingredients just don’t work well in a slow cooker unless you follow the rules — no matter how many times you’ve seen them on Instagram or TikTok.
- Pasta Only 2% of slow cooker owners we surveyed said they cook the most pasta in their slow cooker. This may be because it can be difficult to do. If you want to add pasta to a dish, cook it separately and add it at the end to prevent it from going soft, or add it in the last hour of cooking.
- Rice You can add rice to your pot along with other ingredients at first, but if you do this be sure to add extra liquid. Your slow cooker instructions will tell you how much to use.
- Delicate vegetables and fresh herbs Add them just after cooking, or just before serving in the case of herbs, so they don’t overcook.
- Dried beans Always boil them in water for 10 minutes before adding them to a recipe, or use canned versions if you want to skip this step.
Slow Cooker Reviews
Didn’t have a slow cooker for Christmas? Read reviews of the latest slow cookers we’ve tested (ranked by price) and find out which models earned the best buy rating.
Prices correct at time of writing. Prices and availability may change.
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