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Slow cooking is a wonderful way to get your stews succulent and your meats juicy. But what if your dishes aren't coming out the way you'd like? Or what if you're already an expert at slow cooking, but you're looking for a way to make your meals even better? Here are just five tips for even tastier slow-cooked meals.
1. Buy the Right Pot
One size does not fit all. For example, if you're only cooking for two, you shouldn't steam your vegetables in a 8-quart slow cooker. There will be too much air under the lid, and as a result, your veggies won't get properly crisp. The same goes for stuffing too much meat in a 1-quart pot. It won't get cooked evenly!
2. Take Your Time
While you may enjoy the convenience of just throwing your ingredients in a slow cooker and heading out the door, this technique doesn't do much for your flavor potential. In order to really draw out the tastes, spices and juices of your meal, take your time and add ingredients as directed by your recipe.
3. Stop Opening the Lid
It's very, very tempting to open the lid of your slow cooker and let the wonderful aromas waft under your nose. Just know that valuable heat escapes every time you do this. Not only will your dish take longer to cook, but it might also cook unevenly because of the way you keep interrupting its progress.
4. Be Safe
Make sure you're using your slow cooker safely and correctly. Wash it thoroughly in between meals so you won't attract any bacteria, and don't keep it on a high temperature for days at a time. You'll want it to go to "warm" after it's done cooking; this will give you ready-to-go meals at any time without presenting a fire hazard.
5. Ask the Experts
Do you really enjoy the stew at your favorite restaurant? Or do you dream of emulating the dishes of a great celebrity chef? Figure out how they do it! Buy cookbooks or browse online tutorials; check out the websites of people like Tim Love; follow along with cooking shows at home. There are many ways to get involved in the culinary community, but they all start with you reaching out.
These are just a few things to keep in mind before you bring out the slow cooker. Have fun! Enjoy preparing your next dish!
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