HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR
SLOW COOKER SUCCESS:
Save time — Put all the recipe ingredients in a container the
night before and place it in the refrigerator. All ingredients
should be thawed prior to cooking. The next morning, just
empty the container with the recipe ingredients into the
crock and cook according to the recipe instructions. When
you return hours later, lift the lid to check the temperature,
and serve dinner!
Don’t peak — Lifting the lid during the cooking time will
release the built-up steam, which then adds to the cooking
time. Make sure that your food has reached the minimum
safe internal temperature before serving.
Layer right — When cooking vegetables in the crock,
put dense, tough vegetables, like potatoes, winter squash,
cabbage and turnips, on the bottom where they are closest to
the heating element and can tenderize. Delicate vegetables
such as zucchini, broccoli, spinach and peas can’t hold up
to hours of heat; so place them on top or add them later in
cooking if the recipe calls for it.
Finish fresh — Lemon juice or fresh herbs sprinkled on at
the end of cooking will make the flavor of the dish really
pop. Fresh herbs (except for hearty rosemary or sage) added
at the beginning of cooking may lose their flavor. You can
add dried herbs in at the beginning as they can withstand
longer cooking times.
Consider differences between crocks. Slow cooker
cooking times in recipes are often estimates. One slow
cooker may cook faster than another. If the slow cooker
you are using is larger or smaller than the one specified
in the recipe, the meal may cook more slowly or quickly
than the recipe states. A recipe is done if the vegetables are
very tender and the meat is an internal temperature of 145°
Fahrenheit, 165° for poultry, 160° for ground meats, and
165° for casseroles.
Save money on meat cuts — Inexpensive, tougher cuts
of meat become moist and tender when cooked in a slow
cooker. The trick is to sear or brown the meat for about 5
minutes per side in a skillet before adding it to the slow
cooker. The caramelizing of the surface of the meat will
result in a richer flavor and a more appealing presentation
when serving. When you need shredded meat for a recipe
— like for tacos or barbeque pork — the extra step of
searing isn’t needed.
This information is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s
Simple Cooking with Heart ® Program. For more simple, quick and
affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.
Slow Cooker Savvy
WHETHER YOU’RE TIGHT ON TIME OR ON CASH, one of the best cooking tools is a slow cooker.
A brand new 5-quart slow cooker can cost about $30 or you might even be able to borrow one
from a friend or neighbor for free. The basic appliance hasn’t changed much in years, so even an
older model from a resale shop will do.