Subject: Crockpot Cooking - A few tips
I use several old crockpots and a slow cooker, all that I've
had for years.
1. Wood utensils are best to use in crocks and slow cookers.
Wood doesn't scratch or chip the glaze or nonstick coatings.
And, it doesn't react with food acids and enzymes like metal
utensils do. Plastic utensils, when hot, do leech chemicals
into foods - regardless of what the manufacturers and food
"experts" tell us.
2. Never use a knife in a crock or slow cooker, as it can
easily scratch the vessel glaze or coating.
3. I save seasoned meat juices from cooking and freeze it in
Tupperware quality quart containers for later use to season
another meat while cooking. Or, to make soups and stews
with. While still relatively hot I place the juices in the containers
and set them in the 'fridge, uncapped - to let the fats rise and
form a cake that's then easily removed before freezing the stock.
The containers are great quality, and I get them from oriental
restaurants I order from maybe twice a month. Usually their
soups and dishes like Sirloin Pepper Steak are delivered in those.
I call it, "poor man's tupperware."
4. When seasoning roasts and poultry in the crock, where the
juices aren't actually part of the dish being made, I over-season
the meat in order to have vibrant flavors strike through every fiber
of the meat. Then I end up with a potent meat stock that's great
as a base for other dishes, or soups and stews.
5. Most often when I buy meats I buy large pieces that would
make two meals for 3 to 4 hungry people. Then halve the chunk,
and mix a marinade and place the marinade and meat in heavy-duty
freezer bags - letting it sit in the 'fridge overnight, at least,
turning it over every 2 to 4-hours, before freezing it. The flavor and tenderizing effect on the meat are great. I do the same with chicken, portioning the large packs into freezer bags and pre-season it before freezing it.
6. Depending on the meat type and quantity, I use for the marinade
a combination of some or all of the following:
coarse chopped scallions, Season-All (seasoned salt mix),
extra fine garlic powder (or smashed fresh garlic), Worcestershire
Sauce, soy sauce, powdered oregano, powdered basil, powdered
thyme, coarse ground black pepper, clear vinegar or dry white wine,
Old Bay seafood seasoning (yes, it's not just for seafood), Texas Pete
hot sauce (it has a salty great flavor), cumin, turmeric, celery seed,
mustard seed, bay leaf, coriander, marjoram, and sometimes rosemary.
I don't have a set recipe for any marinade. Each batch I mix
to suit my mood and the quantity and type of meat.
7. You're making a dish for guests in the crockpot or slow cooker. You
forget to add a necessary vegetable or two, and it's late. What do you
do? .....It's simple. Prepare the vegetable and place it in a microwave-safe
bowl,covered in water. Nuke it on high until just short of the tenderness
your finished crock dish would require. Drain the water completely, and add
the vegetable to the crock while still piping hot, and mix it in
quickly. It won't pick up much of the dish flavor, but it'll be tender and yummy.