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Converting classics to the Slow Cooker

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Initial post: Dec 30, 2009 10:48:38 AM PST
wminot says:
Is there a slow cooker book with some instruction in conversion? I would like to use my own recipes, and the books that throw everything into the pot for 6 hours have often been disappointing. Thank for any suggestions.

Posted on Feb 3, 2010 9:51:11 AM PST
Grandma says:
Everything in the pot for 6 hours is either too little time or too much, depending on your temperature. I've never come across a book that gives much in the way of explicit instructions. Here are some conversion tips I've learned over 40 or so years of crock pot cooking - I had one of the first ever to be sold.

1. Vegetables take longer than the meat, so put your potatoes and carrots, etc., in the bottom of the pot and set the meat on top.

2. You get no evaporation, so you never need to add more than 1/2 cup of liquid unless you fully intend to make soup or are cooking beans. For things like corned beef and stew, 1/2 cup is plenty. You will have much more liquid when you're done cooking.

3. Rice and noodles tend to turn to mush. I prefer to cook these separately to just barely al dente and then add them during the last 45 minutes or hour of cooking for the flavors to blend. Feel free to cook extra rice or noodles the day before (or even two) and use that.

4. Meat does not brown in your crock pot. Brown things like chicken pieces before you place them in your pot for extra aesthetic appeal. I can't think of much nastier than whitish cooked chicken pieces.

5. The crock is great for tougher cuts of meat. I prefer to cook these on low for 8-10 hours. The Hi setting for half the time does not really allow enough time to tenderize the meat.

6. Leaving home with the crock pot on is just fine. If you are worried plug your crock into one of those special plugs with a built in fuse or use a power strip like you would for your computer.

7. Choose the right size crock. The little 2.5 quart crock is perfect for oatmeal for breakfast or desserts/dessert sauces but neither of these work well in a 6 quart pot. You want your pot to be at least 1/2 full of ingredients.

8. Accept the fact that some things simply do not convert well. When crock pots first made their appearance you could even buy a special pan to "bake" cakes in the crock. Not really successful. You can use your crock pot for British style steamed puddings but if you want to bake cake, turn on the oven. The same goes for casseroles where you want a crispy top crust.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2010 10:33:12 AM PST
wminot says:
Great tips. Thank you. Especially that no more than 1/2 cup liquid is needed except for soup.

So far, I think cooking on low for eight hours is better for beef or pork stews. Although that seems so counter intuitive. But then I'm a pressure cooker fan but somethings (like a veal stew) aren't a success. So I'm hanging in with this huge pot!

Another Grandma

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2010 12:08:30 PM PST
Grandma says:
We don't eat veal often as it is very hard to find here and very expensive. It isn't something I would consider a good candidate for the crockpot in any event. BTW, I did forget to tell you that the best method I have found for thickening stews you've cooked in the pot is using buerre manie the last few minutes of cooking. And I also forgot to point out that the Crockpot makes the best stuffing ever - I haven't stuffed a turkey in more than 30 years. Mix your stuffing as usual, then put it into your pot. Don't fill more than 3/4 full because your stuffing will expand. Low about 3 hours.

Posted on Dec 15, 2010 4:38:57 PM PST
K. Sanders says:
Interesting idea. I haven't thought about how to convert recipes and put it into a book. I do have a cookbook that is titled "Ultimate Crockpot Recipes" for sale on Amazon which might give you the recipes you want. Mostly, I just do it without thought. I grew up with my Mom and Grandmother who cooked from scratch and just did it. So, it comes as second nature to me. However, I can see where someone who was not given that upbringing may have issues with "just doing it" the old fashion way. Thanks for the idea. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2011 2:39:34 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 13, 2012 6:16:58 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 24, 2011 6:11:38 AM PST
Firefly says:
Reader, I second all of Grandma's tips. I love my crockpots! has thousands of home recipes, lots of good ideas there. I am considering buying my first pressure cooker. One thing I want to do with it is make stew in a half hour or so. What was your problem with veal stew? I don't eat veal but beef stew is a big favorite. When I was working I would put everything in the pot the night before, store it in the fridge overnight, and plug it in in the morning. I just loved coming home to a fragrant house and home cooked meal. I'm worried that pressure cooking may be a bit harried! LOL

My pots are both older Rivals; the heating element wraps around the sides, which distributes it more evenly and prevents hot spots on the bottom. (You put the vegies next to the sides and the meat in the middle.) They also have a lower temp than new models, which allows a slower, more tenderizing effect on tough meats. If this is your problem, you might try using the "warm" setting and see if you get better results. Be careful as that may not be hot enough; it needs to get to ~175*, although I would think you could finish off at a higher setting. Or start it higher for an hour or two and then switch to warm. My easiest recipe, which works with a fresh or frozen whole chicken, seasoned or plain: Put chicken in pot, with legs pointed down in a tall narrow pot or breast side down in a wide pot. Cover and cook; a frozen one takes ~10 hours in my pot. Remove meat from bones to use for salads, sandwiches, casseroles, etc. Or pulled pork: A hunk of boneless pork and a lot of BBQ sauce cooked till the meat is shredable. It doesn't get much easier than those two! LOL

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2012 5:54:08 AM PST
Grandma says:
You need to be VERY careful using that warm setting that you are not providing the ideal temperature for bacteria to grow rather than cooking your food! Even once your food is fully cooked I would hesitate to hold it on Warm for more than an hour or so. Starting food on Warm is just begging for trouble.

Posted on Jan 13, 2012 11:44:50 AM PST
Thanks a lot for sharing your tips

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 4:47:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 24, 2012 4:50:41 PM PST
If you're interested in adapting French recipes to the slow cooker, I recently posted required info on my chezbonnefemme blog. Many recipes in my book, The Bonne Femme Cookbook can be adapted, with a little know-how. The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day (Non)

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 11:12:43 PM PST
wminot says:
I am off to your book and blog. Thank you very much

Posted on Jan 25, 2012 4:13:32 AM PST
Grandma says:
There is also a brand new book out - The French Slow Cooker, seems to be part of a series that also includes Italian and Indian.

Recently acquired in my library - The Slow Cook Book. This includes a traditional recipe for each slow cooker recipe and has a large variety of international dishes. Haven't had time to write a review yet, but will be doing so.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 4:24:32 PM PST
You should put all these on paper or make an e-book. Great ideas.
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Discussion in:  Cookbook forum
Participants:  7
Total posts:  13
Initial post:  Dec 30, 2009
Latest post:  Feb 10, 2012

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