Slow cooker vegetables

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Things to Keep Out of the Crock-Pot

Slow cooker vegetables

Meat – Of course, you can cook meat in a crock-pot, but if you simply throw it in raw you can end up with a greasy mess in the end. Not to mention missing out on adding a lot of flavors! Brown your meat quickly in a hot skillet with some oil prior to adding to the crock pot with your other ingredients. Season well with salt and pepper before browning.

Chicken Breasts – boneless and skinless breasts are often included in many slow cooker recipes. Unfortunately, they are very lean and will become very tough and dried out with slow cooking. If you do use breast, cook until just done and use in recipes that are saucy. For other recipes you can substitute chicken thighs which are thicker and do better with longer cooking. 

Seafood – fish and seafood cook quickly. They can be rendered inedible if they are cooked even a few minutes too long. In the crock-pot they will be chewy and tasteless. 

Pasta – pasta sauces do very well in a crock-pot, but pasta not so much. Pasta, like seafood, cooks quickly. If you add pasta to the sauce in the crock-pot, you will end up with a starchy mess. Cook it separately, then add the sauce.

Rice – rice of course is similar to pasta and does better cooking on the stove or in a rice cooker. It loses its texture when overcooked and you’ll end up with a congealed mess. 

Dairy – dairy products when cooked for a long time can separate and curdle. So, if your recipe includes milk, yogurt or sour cream add these at the end for the dairy to retain its properties and flavor. 

Wine and Other Liquor – these add much flavor to dishes like penne alla vodka and coq au vin. They work because the alcohol burns off and leaves just the flavor. In the crock-pot the alcohol can’t escape and can leave an unpleasant flavor. Use wine in the browning process. Then add it to the crock-pot. 

Fresh Herbs – they are delicate and will lose all their flavor and earthiness in the slow cooker. Use fresh herbs to garnish after plating or add at the very end of cooking. 

So do your research before adding foods to the crock-pot and you will get the very best results. 

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago