Slow Cooker BasicsUsing a slow cooker can be a lifesaver and a timesaver when it comes putting less effort into a warm, home-cooked meal. In fact, many dishes allow you to just toss all of the ingredients in together, set it on low, and have a meal ready in a few hours. Get the recipe below!
Keep a Lid on ItEach time you take the lid off of your cooking dish, it will release some of the heat, adding to the cook time. Keep the lid on until it’s ready.
Add FlavorSautéing onions and some other vegetables in butter or oil before putting them in the slow cooker will give your dish more flavor. And browning meat first also gives your meat some color and texture.
Choosing Cheaper Cuts of MeatSlow cooking cheaper cuts of meat brings out the flavor and makes the meat less chewy. Consider using less expensive cuts like chicken thighs, lamb shoulder, pork shoulder and beef brisket. Fill the cooker up with hearty vegetables to soak up the meat flavor.
Cut the FatWhen using a slow cooker, you can trim the fat from meat before cooking without sacrificing tenderness. And you don’t need to add oil or butter to keep the meat from sticking. Consider using a non-stick oil spray to coat your slow cooker before you add all your ingredients.
Get to the Root of ItRaw root vegetables like potatoes and carrots take longer than meat and other vegetables to cook. So place those on the bottom layer of your slow cooker.
Cooking Beans When you cook dried beans in the slow cooker, pre-soaking the beans is less important. You can soak them covered in cool water overnight to reduce cooking time (drain them before adding them). You can also reduce the cooking time by using a can of rinsed and drained beans like cannellini or great northern. Add canned beans to the slow cooker one hour before serving to heat them without overcooking.
Kale and Bean Slow Cooker SoupReady to try our easy soup recipe? For this recipe, you’ll need to cook some of the ingredients before adding them to the slow cooker for added flavor. But you can save time by cooking them the night before.
Ingredients½ pound chicken Italian sausage1 teaspoon dried oregano 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth1 diced onion 2 cloves diced garlic 1 ½ cups dried cannellini beans 4 small, diced potatoes1 large bunch of diced Tuscan kale1 cup cooked quinoaExtra waterGrated Parmesan cheese
DirectionsCoat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Put a little olive oil or cooking spray in a skillet. Heat the skillet on low and sauté the onion, garlic, oregano and sausage until the sausage is lightly browned. Add the skillet ingredients to the slow cooker.
Add the dried beans, broth and water to the slow cooker, cover with the lid and set the cooker on high. Cook for 3 hours.
Add the diced potatoes and kale and more water or broth if needed. Cook for an additional 3 hours.
Add the cooked quinoa. Let the soup continue cooking until the quinoa is warm, then serve. Add salt and pepper to taste, and grate fresh Parmesan on top. Adding a fat like Parmesan cheese can help the body absorb vitamins, like the vitamin A in kale.
Get more Quick Bites.Don’t want to miss a crumb of Quick Bites? Check out our Quick Bites archive for extra servings of our healthy cooking videos and articles.
Sources: Thekitchn.com; BBCgoodfood.com
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