Slow cookers are a kitchen staple – and, with their incredible versatility, it’s no wonder why this appliance has remained popular for so many years! Slow cookers work by cooking food at a low temperature over several hours. Great for everything from soups to meat dishes, a slow cooker offers an easy way to passively cook dinner, without having to hover over the stove or oven for hours on end.
Yet, there is a right and wrong way to use your slow cooker, if you want to end up with the most delicious and food-safe dish possible. Read on to learn a few mistakes you might be making when using your slow cooker, and what to do instead.
Opening the Lid Too Frequently
The dinner you’re making smells incredible...better lift the lid and take a peek, right? Wrong! Raising the lid off your slow cooker lets out a substantial amount of heat – so much heat, that you could accidentally alter your cooking time. We know it’s tempting, but when something is cooking, always keep the lid on!
Cooking the Wrong Kind of Meat
Have you ever slow-cooked a chicken breast, and then found that the meat was a little dry? As it turns out, there are right and wrong kinds of meat to place in your slow cooker. The best cuts of meat for your slow cooker are fatty and tough. These meats benefit most from low, slow cooking.
Using Frozen Ingredients
To save time, you might place frozen chicken thighs into your slow cooker. Yet, starting with frozen foods – especially meats – extends “danger zone” temperatures, at which point bacteria grows and has a greater chance of resulting in foodborne illness. Play it safe by defrosting everything beforehand.
Layering Items Incorrectly
No one wants to eat a meal that’s only half-cooked. Spare yourself the misery by ensuring that your slow cooker has its ingredients stacked correctly, putting the item that needs the most cooking time, like meat, on the bottom. That way, everything will be done at the same time, and you can mix afterward.
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