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Old 09-23-2007, 09:10 AM   #1
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I REALLY wish I liked Slow Cooker Meals

O.K. I've had my Crockpot for many, many years. I have several Crockpots now. I also have several Slow Cooker cookbooks. But to be honest, after all these years of wanting so to enjoy these meals, I'm rarely happy with the final product. IMO the meat is tender, yet tastes dry, the flavors all meld into one. I've tried all different cuts of meat, different recipes, adjusted cooking times, etc. I don't want to give up but I'm just about there. Why does braising on/in the stove taste soooo much better? Is it just me?

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Old 09-23-2007, 09:34 AM   #2
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Gee, Pytn, I'm sorry you have been disappointed. We've always been quite pleased with the meals that were prepared in out crock-pot(s). Yep, we have several, too.

As a matter of fact, I did an experiment in June in which I planned nearly all our menus of the month using the crock-pot. After it was all said and done, of the 27 meals (2 omitted because of monthly dinner meetings and 1 because we ate out), I wound up preparing 20 of them in the crock-pot. The ones that weren't done in the crock-pot were the few we cooked on the grill outside or fish dishes.

You mentioned you have several crock-pot cookbooks. Do you have any by Mabel Hoffman? Her books, especially Crockery Cookery, are the best IMO. I've cooked nearly every recipe out of that book. I got it in the early '70s when I got my first crock-pot, which I'm still using. You might want to give one of her books a try.

And, actually, since I've been without an oven for over 2 weeks, we're having a teriyaki beef dish cooked in the crock-pot for tonight's meal. The recipe is from Crockery Cookery and we're looking forward to it.

Good luck with crock-pot cooking.
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:12 AM   #3
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I always start my crockpot meals in a pan/stock pot on the stove first. This is where I brown the meats and veggies to give that flavor you can only achieve on a stovetop. I'll finish the whole dish on the stove, then transfer to the crockpot for the 'long haul'.

I also add certain items hours later to the crockpot. Like canned beans and potatoes that could turn to mush. Also, other ingredients that would add freshness, like corn or fresh herbs are added toward the end as well.
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Old 09-23-2007, 11:06 AM   #4
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Katie, I do have that book by Mabel Hoffman. It was my first crockpot book. And I always brown the meat before putting in the crockpot. I guess what bugs me the most is the texture of the meat. To me it tastes tender, yet dry, and the flavor seems to have leached out of it. I do have a few cherished recipes that somehow work for me. But by and large I'm usually dissapointed in the results.
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Old 09-23-2007, 11:10 AM   #5
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That's interesting, Pytn. We've never had any dry meat. Although I do have to admit that I don't brown any of the meat I cook in the crock-pot unless the recipe calls for it. And it's always very flavorful. I can't figure out what you might be doing that would cause the results you are getting.
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Old 09-23-2007, 11:17 AM   #6
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Maybe you should stick to stew type dishes in the crockpot rather than pot roast type meals? That would avoid most of the texture issues you describe, and you sort of WANT a homogenous flavour in a stew.
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Old 09-23-2007, 12:12 PM   #7
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If your choice of meat is too lean, to me - will be dry.
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Old 09-23-2007, 12:51 PM   #8
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Miss PytnPlace...

IMH and unscientific opinion, meat that is over braised is rendered, tender, tasteless, flavorless, bland, and unexciting regardless of the appliance used...On the stove, in the stove, over a camp fire, or in a crock pot/slow cooker. It may be the difference you notice between Crockpot and, On/in oven roasts is the amount of time the roast is cooked. Or more specifically the degree of doness of the meat. I would strongly suggest browning the meat prior to cooking, and maybe reducing the time cooked to see if it improves the quality.

Enjoy!
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Old 09-23-2007, 03:54 PM   #9
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I have to admit, as much as I'ved tried, I've never been able to like crockpot cooking either. Maybe it's my recipes. Whatn crockpot cookbook does everyone like best?
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Old 09-23-2007, 04:23 PM   #10
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IMHO there are things that are very well done in the crock pot and things that are much better cooked other ways. One thing is ham. I read that ham is very good cooked in a crock pot, but we like our ham baked and we like it so well that way that I don't even try it in the crock pot anymore - it wasn't nearly as good to me. I like stews, some roasts and love veggies cooked in my small crock pot. Some soups are good in them and some are better on top of the stove. I couldn't eat every day from the crock pot.
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Old 09-30-2007, 11:37 AM   #11
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Check out a book called Secrets of Slow Cooking by Liana Krissoff. It's a little different from other slow cooker cookbooks, because it doesn't treat the cooker as a convenience tool but as a specialized piece of equipment, and the recipes are all for things that can't easily be cooked AS WELL in some other thing. For example, making ghee for Indian cooking is a snap in the slow cooker, since it requires maintaining a very low temperature for the butter. Another recipe, for vanilla rice pudding made with coconut milk and served with sauteed papaya, gives an idea of how wide-ranging and unusual the recipes are. Slow cookers don't do very lean meats as well as fatty ones, but there's nonetheless a venison recipe -- an adaptation of Iranian "koresh" -- where food (usually lamb) is cooked with fruit. In this case the venison is stewed with apples and split peas and seasoned with vinegar and cinnamon and sugar and a little saffron.
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:12 PM   #12
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I've tried about 4-5 recipes in our crockpot, and only about one dish did we really like. It's definitely a different flavor, we ordinarily grill a lot of our food. I think soups and stews do best in crock pots. Large cuts of beef like a roast, yes, it can be dry. My MIL gave me a slowcooker cookbook called "Fix it and forget it", I'm not really impressed with it. It's a compilation of reader-submitted recipes. The last recipe I made from it the past weekend was just nasty, not fit for a dog, lol. I will look into the cookbooks some of you recommended.
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Old 11-07-2007, 12:22 PM   #13
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Dry meat is usually a result of overcooking, regardless of method. Try using your slow-cooker for chili or spaghetti sauce...you don't have to always use cuts of beef.

FWIW, my wife did a whole chicken in a slow cooker one time, and the meat was very tender, juicy, and falling off the bone. Kinda messy, tho.
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Old 11-17-2007, 08:14 AM   #14
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I love my crock pot.
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Old 11-17-2007, 08:50 AM   #15
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IMO, I always figured the whole idea Was to get the best blend of flavors possible?
then it`s served with something else as a Contrast, Soup is such a dish that has all the flavors blended well or a Chili even.
I agree that just a bowl of stew alone could get a little boring, so serve it With something :)

as for the pot roasts, I always take the roast out and let it cool, bag it and fridge it, then carve it up (it`s easy when cold) and make sammiches with it., these ate Then dipped in the stock I cooked it in, again it provides a Contrast.


I must admit I Also have stopped eating a dish before, not because I was full or I didn`t like it, but simply because I got Bored!
a Contrast will help prevent that :)
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:23 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeekinz View Post
I always start my crockpot meals in a pan/stock pot on the stove first. This is where I brown the meats and veggies to give that flavor you can only achieve on a stovetop. I'll finish the whole dish on the stove, then transfer to the crockpot for the 'long haul'.

I also add certain items hours later to the crockpot. Like canned beans and potatoes that could turn to mush. Also, other ingredients that would add freshness, like corn or fresh herbs are added toward the end as well.
I think you must have the right idea here, but IMO, if these steps are what makes slow-cooking pass muster, they also negate the whole idea of ease and convenience. Once you start doing all the above, I just don't understand the need for the slow-cooker as opposed to a good braising pan and an oven or stove-top.

The only thing that was attractive about the appliance was the idea that you could throw some food in before leaving for work, flip a switch, and come home to a ready-to-eat meal. But the recipes for that type of meal don't generally appeal to me. So I totally agree with the OP here.
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Old 11-17-2007, 10:30 AM   #17
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it doesn`t have to be Stews though, Curry or Soups are great too :)
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Old 11-17-2007, 11:18 AM   #18
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I agree that some things are great in a crock pot, but I do not like ham cooked in a crock pot. It is much better roasted in the oven. Items that don't need other items cooked with them are better cooked otherwise to me. I like a chicken roasted in the oven too - no crockpot chickens for me unless it is a recipe that requires other ingredients in the dish.
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Old 11-17-2007, 11:49 AM   #19
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For me, it was never a case of making something fantastic to write home about, it was about getting a healthy, home cooked meal on the table as a working single parent. Convenience ruled the weekday. Fancy, schmancy, a whole lot of work meals were for week-ends, if it wasn't hockey season.
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:45 PM   #20
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Fine!!! If you all hate slow cookers, send them all up to me!!!! I LOVE THEM!!!!! LoL I made a boo boo a while back. I gave my daughter-in-law my medium size crockpot cuz I was in need of a very big one. I got the big one, but I should have kept the medium one too. hehe

Someone mentioned the stews. EXCELLENT!!!! SlowCookers make the best stew. :-)
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