A leading chef has revealed the slow cooker tips every home cook should know, including using gingerbread in your dishes for flavour and always using room temperature meat.
Slow cooking as an approach has become wildly popular in the past few years, with groups on Facebook boasting thousands of members showing off their elaborate slow-cooked creations.
Laura Frankel is the US-born author of Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes, and she recently shared the tips and tricks we should all follow from home.
So what are they?
A leading chef has revealed the slow cooker tips every home cook should know, including using gingerbread in your dishes for flavour (stock image)
Laura Frankel (pictured) is the US-born author of Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes, and she recently shared the tips and tricks we should all follow from home
1. Always use room temperature meat
Top of Laura’s tips and tricks is the idea that you should never start with meat from your fridge:
‘Room temperature meat is more relaxed and flexible, and the natural juices are evenly distributed,’ Laura told Seven News.
Try getting your meat out half an hour before you intend to slice it and add it to your device.
You can also get the ‘caramelised’ feel by browning it first in a saucepan.
2. Always pre-heat your oven
In the same way that you turn your oven on to heat up before adding something to it, so too should you turn on your slow cooker in advance of cooking.
‘A lot of people will throw in their ingredients and then turn on the slow cooker, but a slow cooker is like a small oven and getting it going for that extra 20 minutes matters a lot,’ Laura said.
Turn it on while you chop your meat and veg, and then add to the slow cooker. You’ll notice a difference in your meals.
‘Room temperature meat is more relaxed and flexible, and the natural juices are evenly distributed,’ Laura said (stock image)
3. Add gingerbread biscuits to meat dishes
While it might sound unusual, Laura swears by crumbled gingerbread or gingersnap cookies in meat dishes like beef stew and roasts.
She said this is often a secret of slow-cooking pros as the ‘gingersnaps flavour the sauce and gives the pan juices this amazing texture’.
A little goes a long way, so crumble one biscuit into your cooker and enjoy.
4. Only cook with wine that you would drink
Laura said it baffles her that people so often cook with cheap wine or wine that has turned.
The chef said you should only ever use a product at its best and can’t expect a ‘long cooking process to make up for a bad product’.
Laura swears by dry wines with a high alcohol content as they add more complex flavours to a dish than a sugary wine.
5. Use the right canned tomatoes
Laura said she prefers whole peeled plum tomatoes over crushed tomatoes, as the crushed variety can often end up ‘mushy’ when cooked over a long period of time.
Drain your tomatoes, transfer them to a bowl and squeeze with your hands to crush them into smaller pieces.
Then, just cook and you should avoid too much liquid in your dish.
Some foods including meat dishes and soups taste better on the second day, according to the chef (a slow cooker meal pictured)
6. Some foods taste better on the second day
‘Here’s a little-known fact: In a restaurant, the soup of the day is actually the soup of yesterday,’ Laura said.
This is because dishes including soups and meat dishes will taste better on the second day, when flavours have had a chance to intensify.
7. Always use the browned bits of meat
If you’ve fried off your meat successfully before adding it to your slow cooker but have a few small browned pieces you think you should bin, don’t.
Instead, Laura said you need to scrape these off the pan and put them into the slow cooker, as these caramelised bits are often the pieces that add the most flavour.
One particularly popular recipe recently was one for chicken carbonara pasta (pictured), which was shared by a woman after she received the ‘game-changing recipe’ from a friend.
Many people have been using their slow cookers during the coronavirus isolation period, with the device making everything from main meals to desserts.
One particularly popular recipe was one for chicken carbonara pasta, which was shared by a woman online after she received the ‘game-changing recipe’ from a friend.
Posting in the Aussie Slow Cooker Recipes Facebook group, the woman later said the chicken carbonara pasta was very easy to make and tasted as good as it looked.
How to make the perfect pasta carbonara in the slow cooker
1kg of Chicken thighs diced
300 grams Bacon diced
400 grams Mushrooms sliced
1 Onion diced
3 teaspoons Garlic minced
2 cans of Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
2x 600ml Thickened Cream
1 Chicken Stock Cube
1 pkt 500 grams Fettuccine
1. Add chicken, onion, bacon, garlic, mushrooms, stock cube into slow cooker.
2. Pour over soup mix
3. Add cream
4. Stir together
5. Cook on LOW for 4 hours
6. Put pasta in cooker
7. Gently combine
8. Cook on HIGH for a further 1.5 hours in 6L slow cooker