KEARNEYSVILLE – Years ago, slow cookers cooked at much lower temperatures than the ones sold nowadays. Today’s cookers, even on low, run hotter than the old ones, which makes them not as great as they used to be.
Many people were throwing frozen meats into their slow cookers (often sold by the namebrand, Crock-Pots) even though cooks were warned not to. Cooking that way might result in the meat being in the danger zone of bacterial development too long and being taken out before it’s thoroughly cooked, so the manufacturers, to avoid getting sued if someone got sick, increased the slow cooker’s power. Now a meal that used to be fine to leave cooking all day while at work will be overcooked after four to six hours.
The difference in temps used by a slow cooker is indicated by the wattage of the cooker. The information is usually on the bottom of the unit. For example, a typical old slow cooker might have used 75 watts for low and 150 watts for high, whereas a newer one will be 180 to 250 watts just on low and actually bring the contents to a boil even on low.
But even with these “modern” improvements, a slow cooker can be a lifesaver for those who want to prepare a meal before leaving for work. A favorite of the Welsh family is a simple pot roast.
Place the 1½- or 3-pound roast in the bottom. Take one package of dry beef gravy mix, spread over the roast. Add a little water in the bottom. Cook on slow for 3 to 4 hours. Add one jar of beef gravy mix, let cook for another two hours. The package and jar gravy keep the meat moist and add flavor. When ready to serve dinner, take the roast out and make a thicker gravy with the drippings. I usually add a few teaspoons of flour to thicken as needed.
With chicken breasts, I use a pack of dry chicken gravy mix and pour in a jar of chicken gravy. Results are same as a roast.
A hint from my daughter–in-law: Line your pot with aluminum foil before placing meat in and when finished lift out foil for a clean pot.
If you have lots of leftover roast beef and want to reuse it in a recipe, you can throw it in a Crock-Pot with a few other ingredients to make a delicious beef stew.
Stews that are cooked in a slow cooker are incredibly flavorful because the ingredients are slow cooked to perfection. The hardest part about the recipe is waiting until it’s finished cooking to dig in – the stew cooks for hours and fills your home with the wonderful aroma of garlic and simmering beef.
Instructions to make a scrumptious stew, add 3 cups beef broth, ¼ cup flour, salt, pepper, paprika, a bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and garlic cloves in a slow-cooker.
Use a whisk to combine the ingredients well, being careful not to crush the bay leaf. Shred the left over roast beef with a fork and add up to 2 pounds to the slow cooker. Add vegetables of your choice. Onions, potatoes, celery, carrots and corn are all popular. Stir well and cook the stew for eight hours on low or four hours on high. Serve this hearty stew with a crusty chunk of French bread.
Most families associate a slow-cooker meal with meats, beans, soup and other main dishes, but desserts from a slow cooker are worth waiting for.
How about Slow-cooker Peach Cobbler? Spray a six-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In large bowl gently toss 4 cups fresh or frozen sliced peaches and ¼ cup of sugar into the slow cooker. In a medium bowl, gently beat 1 cup Original Bisquick mix, ½ cup sugar and 1 cup milk with whisk until blended. Pour over peaches in cooker.
Cover with lid; cook on low hear setting 3 hours or until cobbler is set in center. Serve with ice cream and or whipped cream.
This apple crisp recipe is delicious and easy to prepare. You will need. 1 3.4 ounce package of Jell-O vanilla instant pudding; ½ cup sugar, divided; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced; 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries; 6 Tablespoons butter, melted (divided); 12 Nilla wafers, coarsely chopped; and ¼ cup Planters sliced almonds.
Mix dry pudding mix, ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon. Toss fruit with ¼ cup butter in large bowl. Add pudding mixture, mix lightly. Spoon into slow cooker; cover with lid. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, combine chopped wafers, nuts, remaining butter and sugar in shallow microwaveable dish. Microwave on high 1 minute; stir. Microwave 1½ to 2 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 30 seconds. Allow to cool, then sprinkle with nut mixture before serving. Top each serving with a dollop of Cool Whip or whipped cream.