Here are some suggestions for best results when taking a standard recipe and using it in a crock pot.
- Remember that liquids do not cook away like they would if on the cook top. Use half the amount of liquids called for in the standard recipe. Also, add liquids last, after meat or vegetables have been placed in the cooker.
- It is not necessary to brown larger pieces of meat unless you need to cook off some of the grease before adding the remaining ingredients. For example, browning ground beef, sausage or bacon first and draining the fat is recommended.
- Milk, cream and sour cream should be added during the last hour of cooking to prevent curdling.
- Do not remove the lid except to add ingredients. It takes up to 20 minutes for the heat to build back up to the proper temperature.
- Spices intensify during long cooking times so use half the amount and add during the last hour of cooking.
- To thicken sauces after cooking the meat, you can add quick-cooking tapioca or a paste made of flour or cornstarch and water and cook on HIGH an additional uncovered 10 minutes.
- Most vegetables should be thinly sliced or placed near the sides or bottom of the cooker. They cook slower than meats.
- Cut whole chickens and any meats in half that are over 2 lbs to be sure they cook thoroughly.
- For safety, always cook meat and poultry dishes on HIGH the first hour to speed up the time it gets to get to a safe cooking temperature for meats. Then reduce to LOW for the remainder of the cooking time.