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 Requesting Crock Pot or Slow Cooker Cooking Tips
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Jnanne
Star Contributor

LA
USA
3043 Posts

Posted - 12/29/2014 :  4:49:51 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
A young woman I know is trying to learn to cook for her family. I gave her a crock pot and told her I will also give her some tried and true tips for using it--not recipes, but advice for how to use the device. What I am seeking would be something such as the following:

*Layer the foods that cook most slowly on the bottom--such as carrots, then potatoes, then onions, then the roast.

*Most dishes that cook for 3 hours on high can also cook for 6 hours on low.

*Leave the lid on. The pot cooks by building up steam, and every time you remove the lid the steam escapes and it takes about 30 minutes to build up again, increasing the cooking time.

If you have tips that will help her master using this new form of cooking, please share them. She's a teenager trying to care for a disabled mom and two younger siblings. She's smart and can do anything she puts her mind to mastering--but a little help makes things so much easier!

Jnanne
Silver certified

JudyK
Star Contributor

Eau Claire, WI. 54703-1729
USA
1349 Posts

Posted - 12/30/2014 :  05:29:01 AM  Send JudyK an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Those of us that have been using crockpots for many years find there is no real trick to using them because theyre just so simple to use, even for a beginner. This is why a lot of us like them. Personally, I always place the meat at the bottom, and then the vegetables surrounding it because it is the meat that generally takes the longest to cook for all the meat flavor, and best gravy. Its all a matter of preference, although most recipes do say to place meat in first, and then vegetables surrounding, and top of it. If your friend has the internet there are some excellent recipes available. I recently found one to make sticky spare ribs, I just have to try. I cant think of another appliance that is so versatile, especially for the working parent, or in this case, a teen just starting out. Whatever is placed in the crock is sure to come out tender, great tasting, and nutritional.
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MCBarb
Star Contributor

USA
1633 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2015 :  07:08:28 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I use mine placing the vegies on the bottom and meat on top too. Anything made stovetop is better in a crockpot. I made lasagna in my crockpot once.
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JuanitaJ
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2015 :  12:49:25 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I always put the veggies on the bottom and meat on top. I prefer to cook on low rather than high. My favorite item in the crock pot is pot roast. I always use a good chuck roast. I have tried other types of roasts, but they do not come out as good as a chuck. I don't think the cooker can made a bad piece of meat good. Personally, I have never liked chicken or any other cut of meat in the cooker. But, that's just me.


Juanita
MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping the Houston, TX area.
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Jnanne
Star Contributor

LA
USA
3043 Posts

Posted - 01/05/2015 :  2:48:53 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Any tips regarding how much spice to use compared to oven cooking? Whether dried or fresh is better? Best times to add spices? Best way to thicken a sauce?

Jnanne
Silver certified
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JudyK
Star Contributor

Eau Claire, WI. 54703-1729
USA
1349 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2015 :  07:34:02 AM  Send JudyK an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I dont know about anybody else, but I always brown my roasts, and season it before I stick it in the crockpot, while others season after the meat is in the pot. Thats just a personal preference though as we like a dark rich sauce to make the gravy. As for thickening the sauce either a flour and water mixture, or cornstarch and water works well. Sometimes, canned cream of anything soup can be used also to add more flavor, or change it, and also thicken it. Spices are a personal preference, as are seasonings depending on the flavor one is seeking. This gift you gave your teen friend is a good introduction to cooking. Her meals are likely to all turn out very good.
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JuanitaJ
Star Contributor

Houston, TX
USA
1082 Posts

Posted - 01/09/2015 :  1:14:25 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I also brown the roast before putting in the pot, otherwise it doesn't get that rich brown color I like. I have not seasoned the roast first but that sounds like a good idea. I think I'll try that next time. We usually use a pot roast marinade mix and beefy onion soup to add to the pot, one package of each.

As for thickening, I prefer corn starch because there is less problem with lumps.

Juanita
MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping the Houston, TX area.
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JudyK
Star Contributor

Eau Claire, WI. 54703-1729
USA
1349 Posts

Posted - 01/10/2015 :  4:54:18 PM  Send JudyK an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
My neighbor lady is a fantastic cook. She let me in on a little secret she uses in her restaurant using a slow cooker, or a roaster. She slices her beef roasts into serving slices while partially frozen, doesnt add any type of seasoning because many customers cant have them. Her gravies and meat are fabulous! Of course, in the slow cooker youd cook on low the better part of the day, and then thicken the sauce. Now thats a EASY fix, isnt it?
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Jnanne
Star Contributor

LA
USA
3043 Posts

Posted - 01/11/2015 :  10:10:39 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Judy, I like that. I'll have to try it. Probably a much easier way to have even slices.

Jnanne
Silver certified
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MCBarb
Star Contributor

USA
1633 Posts

Posted - 01/21/2015 :  4:34:47 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
So you are saying it is best to brown beef (chuck roast) before putting it in the crockpot?
I have made chicken and put it in pieces.....it cooks fine.
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JudyK
Star Contributor

Eau Claire, WI. 54703-1729
USA
1349 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2015 :  11:34:00 AM  Send JudyK an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
Personally, I like to braise, and season my roasts before they go into the crock pot,although, I have tried placing raw unseasoned meats in too. We like a dark, tasty gravy, or sauce as you may call it, and it just seems the flavors of the seasonings in combination with the meat used, goes through, and through. I made a beef roast for dinner last night in the pot, no vegetables in it other than a sliced onion, braised and seasoned the meat, and it was to die for good. On the other hand, have you got a 4-6 qt. pressure cooker, either the stove model, or electric one? I happen to have the electric one an absolutely love it. Now, this is one quick way to serve a fast, deliciously tender meal in minutes, instead of hours. I rely on this cooker more than any other appliance I have, as most recipes can be adapted to use in this thing.
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MCBarb
Star Contributor

USA
1633 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2015 :  04:20:48 AM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have a stainless steel 4 quart crockpot. My grandmom used a pressure cooker a lot but I do not have one.
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JudyK
Star Contributor

Eau Claire, WI. 54703-1729
USA
1349 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2015 :  04:41:19 AM  Send JudyK an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
The smaller pressure cookers (4-8 qt) are so very easy to use, and can be purchased used for around $10 online, in newspapers, or Craigslist. The first time I used one, I was scared to death, because I felt I wondered how does one control the pressure, but that is all controlled by the amount of heat needed once the gauge starts rocking and you turn the heat down a bit, until its only rocking once in awhile to maintain the pressure inside the cooker. Our favorites are beef stew, and roast. Beef stew was my first experience and my son bragged about it at work. And all I did was follow the recipe! That was an 18 minute meal plus, the time it took to peel, and cut the veggies, total time prepping and cooking under a half hour. I only made it to serve 4, and wished I had doubled the recipe, because there were no leftovers.
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Jnanne
Star Contributor

LA
USA
3043 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2015 :  3:09:53 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Mother used a pressure cooker a lot when I was little--often for dried beans. Once when a bay leaf got plastered against the hole and the pot exploded, she was left with a huge mess in the kitchen and never used one again. I believe that was a fluke and not likely to happen often, but I can understand why she was shy about wanting to repeat the event.

I was too young to participate in the cooking and clean-up afterward, but I do recall the mess. And I also recall Mother ended up with some nasty burns on her arms, but I can't remember the details (and I think it is probably better for my psyche that I don't).

I believe I'll stick with the crock pot and take my time for the most part, but I may get a pressure cooker for when I don't have the time to wait and want to feed my family a good meal.

Jnanne
Silver certified
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BCheatam
Star Contributor

IN
USA
290 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2015 :  5:51:48 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I gave my daughter an electric pressure cooker for Xmas. She said it takes 50 minutes to cook a roast and veges. I don't call that fast; I can cook one in the oven in the same amount of time. I think she's disappointed.

Silver Certified Mystery Shopper & Auditor in Central and Southern Indiana.
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JudyK
Star Contributor

Eau Claire, WI. 54703-1729
USA
1349 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2015 :  04:18:51 AM  Send JudyK an AOL message  Reply  Reply with Quote
I sure couldnt cook a roast in the oven in an hour. I generally put mine in the oven at 275-300 degrees and cook at the very least 3 hours, or more. After slicing it, then I put it on a plate, add a bit of water, and place back in oven while Im boiling potatoes. The meat comes out really moist and tasty.
Regarding the electric pressure cooker: The instructions that came with my cooker are stated in such a way as to be confusing, and wondered if the pamphlet was misprinted. I wonder if the same instructions were printed with your daughters. I was so confused I was tempted to contact Presto and have them verify them. The first try at a roast, I did it as I "understood" the directions which took longer. The second time, I made a roast as I "thought" the directions intended, which was less time and havent had a problem getting tender, moist meats. Up here, these cookers are so hard to come by the prices if you do, are high. I purchased mine off eBay brand new for $50, then saw that Younkers, Macy's and online sites were selling them for $120 up to $140 with most being out of stock.
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