That feeling of getting home from a hard day work and having your sense of smell bombarded with mouth water aromas the moment you walk in the door is the perfect way to begin the end of another day on the grind.
A crock pot, aka slow cooker, is an electrical cooking appliance that maintains a relatively low temperature that allows you to cook food unattended for many hours. The long cooking time can produce great food that can be set to slow cook before leaving for the daily grind and will be ready when you get back. The one big downside to crock pots is that when you cook vegetables in there for too long they are likely to lose their nutrient value, but you can always cook the vegetables when your ready or serve up raw ones. Now just because they might lose their nutritional values that doesn't mean they will lose their flavor.
The crock pot is also a great tool in saving money. Some of the best meats that are cooked in the crock pot are the cheaper cuts that require low heat and hours of cooking. Meats such as roasts, pork butts, whole chicken, and ribs. Another way I save on money and time is that I will cook a pork butt, a roast, or chili and portion one serving sizes in a zip lock and freeze them. Boy do they come in handy during those moments when I want something good ASAP.
Here are some tips to keep in mind about crock pots.
1. Crock pots are safe to leave on while you are not at home. Just be sure to keep it away from anything flammable and make sure the cord is not touching the unit or is not twisted in a way that it would untwist and touch the unit while you are gone.
2. If you will be gone for more than 8 hours, cook something like a roast or a whole chicken, so that it wont be overdone when you get back.
3. Utilize a programmable rice cooker or make rice or pasta ahead, and store it in the refrigerator and reheat when you get home.
4. A crock pot will not work right if there is not at least 1/2 cup of liquid in it. You can use water, broth, juice, wine, etc. Usually, the meat juices will add to the liquid, which can make for a great broth.
5. When going to buy a crock pot go for the ceramic inserts. They heat more evenly and are less likely to ever burn.
6. For any recipe you follow make sure you have the right crock pot size that it calls for. You may have to adjust the measurements to suit your pot size.
7. Try not to open the lid often, as the saying goes “If your looking your not cooking”. Crock pots heat slowly and can lose a lot of heat quickly. You can throw off your cooking time by doing so.
8. Crock pots cost as little as $25, but you will want to spend no more than $60 on a decent one with a timer if you are looking for a 6qt one. I suggest getting a 6qt for a small family, a handful of guests, or if your living the single parent life.
There are so many recipes out there for crock pots and I will be sharing some basic ones with you that can also be used in other dishes as well.
Imagine spending $10 - $20 and producing about 10-15 servings, in my next post I will show you how to cook pulled pork and what you can do with left over’s.