Proper Amount of Liquid
Due to the way a crock-pot works, liquid doesn’t evaporate and if you use too much, it may overflow. This not only affects the way the food cooks, but also adds to the clean up time. When modifying a standard recipe, avoid this by reducing the amount of liquid to two-thirds the amount suggested.
Don’t count on the liquid thickening either; it won’t. Add a bit of flour or cornmeal to the liquid to achieve a thicker, creamier base.
Choose Setting and Necessary Cook Time
Cooking at a lower setting, for a longer period of time results in juicier meat and a more evenly flavored dish. However, time is often a factor and if a food is overcooked, meat becomes tough, vegetables become mushy, and sauce burns to the sides of the pot. Therefore, choosing an appropriate setting for the length of time it will be cooking is essential for the success of the meal.
Basic units typically have the settings high, low, warm, and off. Since the details of the settings vary depending on the brand and model, it is best to check the owner’s manual for the exact temperatures of each. Otherwise, most recipes provide instructions for both high and low settings.
Proper Cook Time
Most recipes include the corresponding time for each setting. For example, dishes that take eight hours cooked on a low setting often take four on high.
Fortunately, in addition to being convenient, crock-pots are versatile. To achieve a quicker cooking time than a low setting provides while retaining the juiciness, merely cook for an hour on high and then reduce to low for the remainder of the time.
Refrain From Peeking (Let It Cook)
Just leave it alone and let it cook! What makes crock-pots so convenient is that they are designed to cook without supervision. Constant checking to assess the food’s progress is unnecessary. In fact, doing so is counterproductive.
Due to the design, the level of heat in a slow cooker increases gradually to cook its contents. Every time the lid is lifted, some of the heat is released. This affects the cooking time. Just check toward the end to ensure the dish is done.