Food Science: Slow Cooker
Growing up in a West Indian household meant eating Oxtail, curry goat and many other very tasty dishes. These foods were time consuming in preparation. Oxtail needs a long slow cooking time for the meat to become tender. My mother had a pressure cooker. Today I use a slow cooker or by its other name crock pot. Slow cookers are economical and easy to use. Cooking food at a low level of heat over a long period of time can help to preserve the flavors of foods.
Using a slow cooker can prevent foods from overcooking or scorching. In addition, a slow cooker can save money by: using less expensive cuts of meats (Braised lamb) which are high in flavor but require a longer cooking time; increasing the amount of food cook per meal the leftovers can be used for lunch or frozen for a quick prep meal at a later date (Homemade yogurt); in the end a slow cooker can help you save money on gas or electricity because you are using one pot (Beef stock).
Slow cookers are inexpensive, economical in use and they are ideal for making the most out of budget ingredients. Slow cookers offer a healthy, low-fat option for cooking and require the minimum amount of effort.
Helpful tips for cooking meats in a slow cooker:
Generally slow cooker’s have a lid that form a tight seal once secured properly. This means that liquid will not evaporate thus it is unnecessary to adapt the amount of cooking liquid used in a standard recipe. I would suggest reducing the liquid by a third. The liquid should just cover the meat and vegetables. Don’t overfill your slow cooker or it most likely will leak out the top and the food won’t cook properly.
Oil is not necessary for using a slow cooker, the food will not burn so as long as there is enough liquid in the slow cooker. You don’t need a lot of fat on your meat either. When frying meats a lot of the fat drains away this will not happen in a slow cooker so trim it any excess fat off the meat before cooking.
If meat usually takes:
15 – 30 mins, cook it for 1 – 2 hours on High or 4 – 6 hours on Low
30 mins – 1 hour, cook it for 2 – 3 hours on High or 5 – 7 hours on Low
1 – 2 hours, cook it for 3 – 4 hours on High or 6 – 8 hours on Low
2 – 4 hours, cook it for 4 – 6 hours on High or 8 – 12 hours on Low