I don't know about you but once school is back in life seems to get busy! One way I simplify weeknight meals is using the slow cooker. You can either cook in big batches and freeze to reheat in the slow cooker later or adapt your favorite recipes to use in the slow cooker! I was honestly surprised at how easily you can make any meal in the slow cooker using these four tips.
1. Temperature – in most slow cookers low is around 200°F and high is about 300°F. As a rule of thumb cooking on low takes twice as long as it does on high.
For recipes that call for quick baking/cooking times I find 3-4 hours on low or 1-2 on high works great. If the recipe calls for long oven baking or stovetop simmering then sticking to 8-10 hours on low is perfect, this is also the standard cooking time and temperature for roasts and red meats.
2. Liquid – Keep in mind slow cookers produce very moist heat, as a result your recipe will retain more moisture than it would if you were using the oven. Reducing liquid in a regular recipe by about half seems to work great for me. The only difference is cooking rice or other grains then use an amount of liquid that is just shy of the standard amount.
3. Oven vs Slow Cooker – these are the guidelines I use when converting oven time to slow cooker times:
4. Know What Holds Up – Roasts, brisket, and flat steak stand up well to long cooking, usually requiring 10-12 hours on low or 6-8 on high. Keep in mind poultry cooks more quickly than red meat, and fish cooks faster than both. But vegetables don't usually hold up so well, especially ones like snow peas and broccoli.
If a recipe calls for meat and vegetables I usually add them toward the end of the cooking time. Chopped dense vegetables like carrots and potatoes seem to hold up for the duration of cooking.
What's your favorite slow cooker recipe?