Welcome to the wonderful world of slow cooking! If you lead a busy life and need a break from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine, then slow cooking is the perfect way to enjoy healthy and delicious home cooked meals. With slow cooking, you can make hearty meals that are easy to prepare and require minimal effort. In this article, we will explore the benefits of slow cooking and introduce you to some of the amazing recipes that can be made with this versatile cooking method. Ready to get cooking? Let’s dive in!
1. Benefits of Slow Cooking
Slow cooking is an incredibly simple way to get hearty and comforting meals on the table, even when you’re pressed for time. It’s an especially helpful cooking method for busy people who want to throw ingredients into a pot and have a delicious meal in a few hours. Here are some of the benefits to slow cooking that make it an ideal choice for busy lifestyles.
<li><b>Minimal Preparation:</b> Slow cooking requires minimal preparation, which is part of what makes it so attractive to busy people. Simply brown the meat, chop up the vegetables, and add everything to the slow cooker along with the appropriate seasonings. Then, let the slow cooker do the rest of the work for you. </li>
These are just some of the that make it such an ideal cooking choice for even the busiest of people. With a slow cooker in your arsenal, you can whip up mouthwatering meals in a short amount of time, with minimal effort.
2. Types of Slow Cookers
Conventional slow cookers are multi-purpose, and come in a range of sizes from tiny one-person models to generously sized eight-quart models. Their simple design allows for the correct adjustment of the temperature and internal cooking time. With these conventional cookers, ingredients are simply put inside the receptacle, the timer is set, and the food cooks away slowly and steadily.
For busy households, programmable slow cookers are fantastic. They differ from conventional models in that they not only allow you to make delicious meals, but also like a slow-cooking version of a crock pot, they have a timer to turn off the cooker before the meal is finished cooking. Perfect for busy households, this allows for the meal to be ready exactly when you need it.
Increasingly popular, multi-cookers are slow cookers that offer a range of pre-programmed cooking functions like slow-cooking, baking, roasting, boiling, and even slow-grilling. With multi-cookers you can also cook with any of the pre-programmed functions or with the manual setting for more creative recipes. Perfect for large families and parties, these multi-cookers are incredibly versatile.
Great for those who are looking to add a bit of style to their kitchen, artisan cookers are a high-end choice. These slow cookers are not only attractive and aesthetically pleasing, but they have fancy controls and will quickly become the centerpiece of any kitchen. With sophisticated styles and designs, artisan cookers are perfect for when you want to impress.
3. Keys to Successful Slow Cooking
1. Prep Your Meal in Advance: Slow cooking is great for busy lives because it requires very little exertion on the day-of. Before you know it you will have a delicious, homemade meal. To make it even easier, prepare whatever you can the night before. Chop vegetables, make sauces, marinate meat – anything and everything you can do to get ahead of the game.
2. Keep It Simple: When it comes to slow cooking, it’s best to keep recipes on the simpler side to avoid any adaptions or substitutions. You can always pair your meal with a side dish, like a simple green salad, cooked vegetable or grain to round out the meal and give it a larger presence. Cooking from scratch requires less ingredients than you would need for a more complex meal and still yields delicious, hearty results.
3. Experiment and Have Fun: There are so many wonderful recipes for slow cooked meals that it can be fun to experiment and incorporate new flavors. Look to recipes from around the world for unique off-the-grid ideas. That type of exploration can also bring a spark to your kitchen and spice up mealtimes.
4. Know Your Time Constraints: If you work late or are out of the house during the day, you can still benefit from slow cooking. There are many slow cookers that come with programmable settings so that you can have dinner ready as soon as you walk in the door. However, you also want to plan to allow enough time before you have to leave, so that your meal doesn’t suffer from being overcooked.
5. Invest in the Right Slow Cooker: Don’t feel like you have to go for the most expensive slow cooker, but you should consider investing in a well-made slow cooker that is easy to use and has quality craftsmanship. The better slow cookers usually have features like programmable setting or a timer on them that can be a major time saver.
6. Monitor Doneness Regularly: Slow cooking takes longer than traditional methods, so you will need to check on your food to make sure it is cooking properly. If needed, you can always adjust the cooking time to ensure your meal is cooked to perfection.
4. Simple Slow Cooker Recipes
Slow cooking meals is one of the easiest ways to whip up a delicious, hearty dinner in a flash. With the right ingredients, you can turn your slow cooker into a go-to appliance for creating nourishing meals after a hectic day. Here are 4 :
1. Mongolian Beef
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 cup cold water
Combine the cornstarch, garlic, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, ginger, and red pepper flakes in the slow cooker and stir until combined. Add the steak strips and stir until coated in the mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the beef is cooked through, remove the beef and stir in the cold water. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Serve over steamed rice.
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Combine the soy sauce, sugar, chicken stock, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger in the slow cooker and stir until combined. Add the chicken and stir to coat in the mixture. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the chicken pieces and reduce the sauce on the stovetop for 5 minutes. Serve over steamed rice.
- 2 cups chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 3 cups chopped carrots
- 2 cups diced potatoes
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 can coconut milk
Combine the red onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and black pepper in the slow cooker and stir until combined. Add the vegetable stock, carrots, potatoes, green beans, and peas to the slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in the coconut milk and continue cooking for another 15 minutes. Serve over cooked couscous or basmati rice.
4.BBQ Pulled Pork
- 2-3 lbs boneless pork shoulder
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper in the slow cooker and stir until combined. Add the pork shoulder and stir until evenly coated. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove the pork shoulder from the slow cooker and shred with a fork. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker and stir until evenly coated in the sauce. Serve over buns.
5. Creative Cooking with a Slow Cooker
Slow cooking is the perfect way to whip up a flavourful meal with minimal effort. Whether you’re a novice or a pro in the kitchen, using a slow cooker is a great way to enjoy hearty dishes without spending too much time fussing over them. Here are some ways to get started with creative cooking using a slow cooker.
1. Thinking Outside the Box
You’re not limited to making traditional sauces or soups with your slow cooker. With a little thinking outside the box, you can come up with creative twists for classic dishes. For example, try using your slow cooker to bake a lasagna with all the cheesy goodness you would normally expect from an oven-baked version. Or, replace your traditional meatloaf recipe with a slow cooked version for an interesting twist.
- Growing your own produce gives you a wider range of ingredients to choose from.
- Experiment with legumes and grains for interesting textures in your slow cooker dishes.
- Try stirring in spices and herbs for more intense flavours.
3. Spice it Up
One of the best things about slow cooking is that the spices have time to infuse into your dish. So, don’t be afraid to go heavy on those herbs and spices. Chili powder, smoked paprika, and curry powder are all delicious and flavorful additions to your slow cooked meals.
4. Make it a Potluck
One fun way to make the most out of your slow cooker cooking is to bring it to a potluck party. Make a big batch and then watch your dish disappearing before your very eyes. Your friends will be sure to thank you when they taste your slow cooked dish.
5. Have Fun
Remember, the best part of slow cooking is having fun! Experiment in the kitchen and try out new dishes like a lasagna casserole or a creamy vegetable soup. Above all, enjoy making and eating your slow cooked meals with your family and friends!
6. Clean Up and Maintenance Tips
1. Align your ingredients
One of the best ways to make sure that your slow cooker meal comes out perfect every time is to make sure you align your ingredients correctly. Start by adding all the vegetables at the bottom of the slow cooker – root vegetables like carrots and potatoes will need to be cooked for the longest time. Layer some seasonings over the veggies, followed by your meats and fish that you would like to cook. Lastly, pour in some liquid such as broth or wine to finish off the meal. Keeping the ingredients the same layer order every time will give you a consistent and tasty meal.
2. Check on your food
Slow cookers are so convenient because you don’t have to constantly check on your food throughout the cooking process, however, it’s a good idea to open the lid at least once during the cooking time. Not only does it help you to keep visual tabs on your meal, but it also helps keep temperatures low. The extra blast of hot air every time you open the lid lowers the overall temperature of your slow cooker, so make sure you keep that in mind.
3. Grease the cooker
Before you start preparing your ingredients, make sure to grease the inside of your slow cooker with some oil or butter. This will help prevent any of the food from sticking to the edges when it is done cooking, and make it much easier to clean. Furthermore, the extra oil or butter will help flavor the base of your dish and match up perfectly to the delicious flavors you will be adding to it.
4. Keep the lid on
In order to make sure that your slow cooker extracts flavors perfectly and doesn’t lose too much liquid, it is important to let it do its job without opening the lid. Avoid the temptation to check on your food during the cooking process, as this will only let out the steam that is used to cook your food. Instead, rely uponmeasuring the internal temperature of the dish to tell when it is cooked through and done.
5. Clean regularly
Much like any other kitchen appliance, slow cookers need to be cleaned regularly to ensure that there is no food residue caked on to any of its parts. Empty out the slow cooker after every use and then use hot, soapy water to wipe down the inside and outside of the unit. Make sure you avoid abrasive cleaners like steel wool or scrub brushes as these can make small marks on the surfaces that may be difficult to remove.
6. Give it a rest
After you have spent the afternoon cooking your meal and have welcomed everyone over to share it, turn off the slow cooker and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. This will not only give the food a bit of time to rest and settle, but it will also give the appliance time to cool off and help avoid potential burns. Additionally, some time to rest helps the flavors mingle so your slow cooked meal will have a depth of flavor that you won’t find elsewhere. Slow cooking is an amazing way to get delicious, comforting meals on the table quickly and quickly. Whether you’re using a slow cooker, a Dutch oven, or a pressure cooker, you can get creative and make hearty meals that will make your life easier while keeping your taste buds satisfied. Thanks for checking out our tips on slow cooking, and we hope you’re inspired to give it a try in your kitchen!