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The Dos and Don’ts of Slow Cookers

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byDavid Joachim and Andrew Schloss
from Fine Cooking #115, pp. 29

In our latest article, Make the most of Your Slow Cooker, we discuss the ins-and-outs of slow cookers. Although cooking meals with a slow cooker has unique benefits, it isn’t completely foolproof. Here are some dos and don’ts to help your next slow cooker adventure go smoothly.

DO brown food first to create delicious flavor and help ensure food safety.

DO cut dense vegetables like potatoes and carrots into even-size pieces so they cook at a similar rate.

DO add tender vegetables, seafood, pasta, dairy products, and fresh herbs toward the end of cooking to avoid mushiness or curdling.

DO use wooden, plastic, or rubber utensils when stirring or serving and soft sponges when cleaning to avoid scratching the crock.

DON’T put frozen food in a slow cooker.

DON’T add too much liquid. Remember: Little to no evaporation occurs in a slow cooker. Use only small amounts of flavorful liquids like broth, wine, vegetable juice, and fruit juice.

DON’T lift the lid during cooking. Every time you do, you lose heat and moisture, which disrupts the cooker’s steam-condensation cycle and extends cooking time.

DON’T store food in the crock. Transfer food to another container for refrigerating or freezing to avoid sudden changes in temperature (which could crack the crock) and to ensure food safety.

DON’T reheat food in a slow cooker. Instead, reheat food in a microwave oven or on the stovetop.

Put the Dos and Don’ts in Action with These Slow-Cooker Recipes
Slow-Cooker Steak and Guinness Pie Slow-Cooked Pot Roast with Mustard & Horseradish Gravy Slow-Cooker Osso Buco
Slow-Cooker Steak and Guinness Pie   Slow-Cooked Pot Roast with Mustard & Horseradish Gravy   Slow-Cooker Osso Buco

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