As a busy mom (or dad), you often find ways to “speed things up” just so you could fit everything in your schedule. Good thing you there are ways to help you out with house chores like your slow cooker – all you need to do is set it up before you go to your workplace and eight hours later, you come back and everything is all done with a D for delicious. You will be eating Beef Stew in a few minutes and you’re so excited. It will be a very good night for you and the family. Beef Stew, yoohoo!!!
You have a smile on your face as your kids greet you with their hugs and kisses. “We’re hungry, mom (dad)!” And you’re like, Beef Stew night! You hear your kids say words like “wow” and “that’s good”. Hop is the word to describe the way you went to your kitchen. As you stepped inside the room, you immediately went to where the slow cooker is. You opened the cooker and after a few seconds, your smile faded.
Where’s the sweet smell of beef and everything else? What you get is just steam from the pot. It’s full of sauce and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. There should be some sauce and the beef is not supposed to be swimming in it. What happened? You can’t dwell on this for tonight. Kids are on the brink of starving (yeah, right).
Your next words are – “Kids, we’re going to McDonald’s for tonight.” And one of them said, “No beef stew?” What’s your reply to that? “Oh well, I messed up on the beef stew, sorry.” Not a good reply, huh?
You may have made these mistakes which is why your beef stew didn’t pan out. You want to know why it was like that and how can you make it better. You’re not to throw out that lovely slow cooker, you know.
Well, try avoiding these simple errors and you will be eating your slow cooker meal with much gusto from now on.
The meat wasn’t seared.
Raw meat, if tossed in the slow cooker, will come out as pale meat in the end. It needs to be browned first, meaning, even if you have to leave it in the slow cooker, the meat must be fried just enough to brown the outer part. As for chicken meat, there is no need to fry it before tossing in the cooker. Doing so will overcook the chicken and you don’t want that.
Browning or searing the meat, especially beef and pork, will release its flavor and provide a tasty-looking color to it. Don’t put much oil though – a little is enough. And also, using grape seed oil will make it yummier but you can use whatever type of oil you like. It’s just a suggestion.
You left the chicken skin on while slow cooking.
Chicken skin is not healthy, we all know that. But it is so good when it gets all crispy especially when it’s fried, grilled or when oven baked. You just love to feast on that. But, when you are using the slow cooker, the chicken skin must be left out. If you cook chicken with skin in a slow cooker, the skin will not come out crispy. It will become hard to chew and mostly rubbery. If you like eating bubble gum with a fatty flavor, then, go ahead. But if you’re not a fan of that, you have to take it off before cooking it.
Herbs, spices and seasoning were sprinkled on early.
It would be useless for you to add all these flavorful herbs and spices earlier on. Some people just toss everything in like citrus juice, salt and pepper because “the recipe book said so”. Well, to tell you the real deal, the flavor will be cooked away after a few hours. That’s the truth. So even if you have already seasoned your food, the taste will eventually go away.
The way to season food in a slow cooker is to add it when the dish is almost ready to be served. In that way, the herbs, spices and seasoning will serve its purpose and provide for you the best tasting slow cooker meal ever.
Milk was poured at the beginning too.
Sigh. Be honest – did you add milk together with your meat, veggies and everything else? When you checked on the dish, did you notice anything? Were there white bits all over the food? If you answered a big YES to all the questions, then, you’re in trouble. The milk curdled and it’s because you added it too early.
Don’t be too overly excited when adding ingredients to your slow cooking meat. Just let the meat cooking take its course for 4-5 hours minimum and add the milk together with the flavors at the end. Wait it out and you’ll have the perfect dish at the end of the day.
You have too much or too little sauce.
You think that slow cooking will use up all the water and burn the dish. So what do you do? You over compensate and instead of pouring in 2 cups, you doubled the figure. Well, that was not a smart move.
It is also wrong to scrimp on water or sauce because you are slow cooking. It has to contain enough liquid for the meat to cook properly. So, what do you do? Don’t fill the pot. Instead, put enough liquid to soak the meat and usually that’s halfway through the pot. In that way, there won’t be a shortage or overage of liquid.
You were impatient and checked on it a lot of times.
After putting your meat, all you had to do was wait for the cooker to finish up. But no. You had to take a peek on minute 15, 30, 60, 85, 120, 150, 200, 220, 240, and so on. Don’t do that! Just leave it alone and let it be. It won’t cook if you keep on sniffing and stirring it. Every time you open the lid, the heat escapes and it lessens the capacity to cook your dish properly.