7 Tips for Using Your Slow Cooker and Recipes for Spring
While many people associate slow cookers with fall and winter cooking, any time of year is a good time to use this versatile appliance! It’s great for making sure you come home to a hot meal, and there are so many recipes that work well in a slow cooker you probably wouldn’t have to eat the same meal twice for a long time.
If you haven’t been using your slow cooker as much as you could, it’s time to get it back out. Use these tips to cook delicious meals!
Sear and Saute Beforehand: While your slow cooker does a lot of things well, it doesn’t do a good job at searing meats and sauteing vegetables. And, any chef will tell you that the searing and sauteing of meats and vegetables helps to develop the flavor of a dish. Take a few minutes before you put everything in your slow cooker to do these two things. You’ll appreciate the enhanced flavor.
Don’t Overfill Your Slow Cooker: Your slow cooker can probably hold quite a bit, but it’s important not to overfill it. Overfilling your slow cooker can cause your dish to cook unevenly. Also, if it’s filled to the brim, you may find that your dish boils over and creates quite a mess.
Choose the Proper Size: Slow cookers come in various sizes so you may actually have a couple of them. To allow for even cooking, make sure you choose the right side for your dish. If you’re using a slow cooker for a dip, a small one may work perfectly. A large batch of chili may require you to use one that can hold multiple quarts.
Use Slow Cooker Liners for Easy Clean Up: While most slow cooker crocks can go in the dishwasher, if you want to make clean up even easier you can buy slow cooker liners. Simply throw the liner away when you are done with your meal. These are great for potlucks where you bring your slow cooker but don’t want to bring home a dirty crock.
Keep the Lid On: If you continuously take the lid off to check on your dish, you risk losing heat and moisture. Refrain from doing this to improve the cooking process.
Use the “Low” Setting As Much As Possible: If you can, cook your meals on “low” when possible. This will also help you to retain moisture and cook more evenly.
Use Different Settings (if possible): Many slow cookers today have several settings. Some have delayed timers. Some will shut off after a period of time and switch to “warm.” Some even allow you to control it from your smartphone. If your slow cooker has different settings, learn to use them to maximize your flavor.
If you’re looking for a few new recipes to try in your slow cooker, here’s a couple for you!
- Slow-Cooker Spring Beef Bourguignon: This is a real comfort food that still embraces spring by incorporating carrots and asparagus, along with fresh herbs.
- Slow-Cooker Quinoa Risotto with Carrots and Asparagus: With carrots, asparagus, and peas, this quinoa risotto is great for springtime.
- Slow-Cooker Bacon and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin: This dish is so delicious you could serve it for a dinner party!
- Slow-Cooker Fresh Herb Chicken Mushroom Leek Casserole: Be sure to use fresh herbs to really bring the flavors out in this dish!
Don’t put your slow cooker away just because spring is here. You should be using it all year-round to create delicious dishes.