No Crockpot, No Problem: Slow Cooker Taste Without The Nuisance

 

One of the most popular kitchen appliances began with Cholent Stew, a traditional Jewish entree that requires half a day to cook. By 1936, Irving Naxon had been eating his grandmother’s signature dish for years but noticed a consistent problem: cooking over long periods of time can result in uneven cooking, leaving, for instance, the vegetables well done long before the meat was tender.

His solution: use a inner pot the contain the heating unit and help evenly distribute the temperature. After decades of changes, Naxon’s original design is now used not only for stew, but for tenderizing meat and even for slow cook desserts, like puddings.

Which might explain the resurgence of slow cooker popularity among Americans. With the exception of a brief decline in the 1980’s (likely due to the emergence of microwave ovens and ready-made meals), slow cooking has increasing risen in popularity.  In 2011, over 80 percent of families reported owning a slow cooker, with sales swelling from 10.5 million in that year to over 13 million by 2014.

What Personal & Private Chefs Need to Know about Crockpots

It’s no secret that personal and private chefs have packed schedules and limited time to prepare a meal. While the slow cooker taste is popular, it’s hardly convenient. While slow cooker devices might be ideal for someone who plans to be juggling housework that day, it’s less ideal for chefs crunched for time.

The truth is you don’t need a crockpot. Even if you do have one, using one every time you want to offer rich, slow roasted flavor is far from ideal. The good news? With a few tricks, you can get similar flavor in less time and without lugging around a crock pot. While some of these methods take a little more effort on the preparation end, in the long run they can save you hours of cooking.

Before You Cook For Hours, Try These Tricks

Instead of reaching for a slow cooker, focus on building flavors and aromas that mimic what you’d get after cooking for hours. Sound impossible? While you won’t get the exact same results, these tricks will help you build dishes that are exactly what your clients are looking for. (If you do insist on using a slow cooker, make sure you aren’t making any of these common mistakes).

For Meat

Slow cooked meat is delicious for a few reasons: namely, cooking meat at low temperatures prevents it from drying out by retaining moisture and tenderizing in the process. Slow cooking also help release aromas and natural flavors contained in the meat’s juices.

If You Need a Shortcut: Take care in how you prepare and cook your meat. Tenderize meat using a tool. While a meat mallet is most common, you can use a rolling pin, cast iron skillet, or even Pyrex in a pinch. Both dry and wet heat work, but if you plan to cook quickly, try marinating before cooking. If you can, slowly adjust the heat in increments rather than throwing the meat on the grill at the highest heat. Doing so will partially mimic a slow cook process; just make sure the internal temperature reaches the appropriate level for safe consumption. If you notice your meat drying out, lower the cooking temperature slightly and carefully add citrus juice.

If You Have Time, But Not A Slow Cooker: The principle is simple if you plan ahead: cooking meat at a low temperature (generally around 200 to 250 degrees fahrenheit) for several hours yields similar results as using a slow cooker. Pulled pork works especially well, and should be cooked for eight hours at 200 to 250 degrees. Both casserole pots and dutch ovens help to seal in the moisture.

 

For Vegetables

Root vegetables, like parsnips, turnips, carrots and potatoes are especially popular for slow cooking because of their hardy but often sweet composition. These vegetables are also the perfect complement to slow roasted stew meat or pulled pork for a cool autumn night.

If You Need a Shortcut: Roasting is an excellent option to cut back on time: it takes half an hour to forty five minutes, instead of the several hours you’d expect if using a slow cooker. Stick with root vegetables, as they will hold up best to long cooking times and work the best with slow roasted meat. You’ll actually get by with using a higher temperature (this recipe using 475 degrees fahrenheit). The key is to coat the vegetables with olive oil and turn every ten minutes, watching carefully until they become tender. Still too slow? Chopping vegetables up in smaller pieces or even mincing will reduce cooking time.

If You Have Time, But  Don’t Have a Slow Cooker: The best strategy is a quick roast; while you can roast at a lower temperature for longer, the result for vegetables is less distinctive than it is for pulled pork or stew meats. Have time and want to simplify? You can go to long route by making an one pot meal using the same techniques as you would for slow roasting meat. Just be aware that checking often is very important.

 

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