Monday, 12 February 2018

Slow Cooker, what’s all about?

The Hype

These days it’s all about Slow Cooking, but what does it really mean?
Slow cookers are cheap to buy, economical to use and they're great for making the most of budget ingredients. They offer a healthier, low-fat method of cooking and require the minimum amount of effort. You can buy one as from 20 euro. Depending on brand and functions you want. Slow cookers with timers are more expensive.

Cooking with a slow cooker is most similar to cooking with a Dutch oven on a stovetop. On a stovetop, a pot is heated from the bottom and the heat rises up the sides of the pot to heat the food within. Similarly, a slow cooker creates heat toward the base, which transfers up the sides of the vessel to heat the food within. In addition, setting the temperature for both cooking methods is very similar. Instead of cooking something at a specific temperature on the stovetop, you set the temperature to low or high. Your slow cooker works in the same manner.

When you set the temperature to low on your slow cooker, your heating element will put out less heat. When you set the temperature to high, the heating element will put out more heat. Cooking something on low takes more time than cooking something on high. Because the temperature settings work most like stovetop cooking, it is hard to give an actual temperature for the various heat levels.

Slow cookers are designed to do their own thing. 
It all comes down to the design. Essentially, slow cookers are just electric pots with stoneware inserts. Unlike a conventional oven or stovetop burner, slow cookers can consistently cook food at low or high temperatures for as many as 12 hours. These nifty contraptions, designed to operate completely on their own, work by trapping heat and cooking food for a long period of time. For this reason, it's important to avoid removing the lid of your slow cooker. Every time it's removed, heat escapes, and that will only increase the overall cooking time needed.

One of the greatest attributes of the slow cooker is the incredible flavoring that it can produce. Simmering a mixture of ingredients in their own juices for several hours produces that rich, deep flavor that baking, grilling or frying simply aren't capable of. Cooking on a low, steady heat brings out the most savory of flavors and gives slow-cooked meals that extra zest. I have induction an i must admit that it gives not the best result when it comes to slow cooking. Cause of the pulses it gives every couple of seconds  i do not have a constant temperature which makes it not ideal for stews.

Chicken Tikka masala
I bought a Slow Cooker this week from the Aldi (Quigg) for 22 euro in sale and decided to make Chicken Tikka. However i did not pre bake the meat and thought the slow cooker would do that somehow and i had a recipe that did not require pre did not work like the recipes said.
The chicken became watery and not browned.... i removed the liquid and continued with the recipe.

That’s a lesson i learned about slow cooking. It turns out that you better brown your onion first and meat to give it extra texture and flavour + by that you are removing any natural liquid that these ingredients contain. Then transfer to the cooker and heat up (or use room temperature) any liquid you will be adding (except for yoghurt). Cause when you add fridge cold liquids, temperature goes down in the slow cooker as well and takes longer to cook.
However after 3 hours slow cooking on high the taste was delicious!

TIP : Add yoghurt 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, not earlier, cause it can shift which will ruin your dish. I knew that, since i read it in the manual of the slow cooker, so i did it this way.

3,5 liter serves around 4 people

So, i think the slow cooker can be really valuable when you have not much time or when you are sick and don’t won’t to waste any time in the kitchen cooking and stirring in the pot, especially for meat dishes that do require a lot of cooking time.
Just pre bake like you would normally do, but then add everything to the slow cooker before the required cooking time before dinner .... calculate how long it would take to get ready and voila. Dinner is ready.
>>> It is not a magical pot where you just can just throw everything in like many people does need some preparation if you want to have the right taste.
And it does not bake / brown your ingredients. it slow cooks.

See schedule below how long the slow cooker needs for traditional recipes and how to calculate your cooking times.

How long should I cook it for?

If a dish 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
Root vegetables can take longer than meat and other vegetables so put these near the heat source, at the bottom of the pot.

You can convert your favorite recipes to slow cooker recipes, if you learn these important differences first:

  • Liquids do not evaporate in a slow cooker. Unless you are cooking rice, pasta, or beans, reduce the amount of liquid to about half the amount called for in your recipe.
  • Fresh vegetables produce the most desirable results. Potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic should be washed and cut in uniform pieces, then placed in the bottom of the crock. Canned and frozen vegetables take less time to cook and can result in overcooked dishes.
  • Ground beef should be browned and drained before slow cooking to remove grease.
  • Tender foods such as pasta, squash, asparagus or peas should be added in the last hour of cooking.
  • Seafood such as shrimp, scallops and fish should be added in the last 15-30 minutes of cooking.
  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk and sour cream should be added at the end of cooking.

The slow cooker is not just efficient for you, it’s efficient for your home. A small slow cooker uses approximately the same power as one and a half 100 watt light bulbs. Because it cooks with contained heat, it uses less energy. And since it’s an appliance that’s intended to be used unattended, there’s no need to worry about it while you’re gone.

Does SIZE Matter? Yes!

Generally speaking, the sizes fall into the following categories (showing stated capacities): 

Small (1-2 people): 1.5-3.0 litres.
Medium (3-4 people): 3.0-5.0 litres. 
Large (5 or more people): 5.0-6.5 litres.
For bulk family cooking, look for a stated capacity of around six litres (which translates to a usable volume of around 4.5 litres). This will feed six to eight people in one go, or is ideal if you like batch cooking for freezing later. If you are more likely to be cooking for one or two, choose a smaller 3.5-litre slow cooker (usable volume of around 2 litres).

Read more: - Which?

I hope you are well updated with this info and that i in any way could help you. If you would have any more questions, please feel free to ask them and i will try to answer them :)


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