Slow cooker, crockpot and meal maker are all different names for an appliance which cooks food safely, slowly and unattended for hours, provided you follow the manufacturer's instructions for your make and model.
- Prepare the food before leaving in the morning or prepare the evening before and refrigerate in the cooker bowl insert overnight. If refridgerating, the slow cooker bowl will be cold so ensure you cook for an extra ½ to 1 hour.
- Preheating the cooker insert for 10- 20 minutes while preparing the dish also helps reduce cooking times.
- It is not safe to cook meat from frozen in the slow cooker.
- Try not to lift the lid too often as this reduces the heat and the food will need more time for cooking.
- Only ¾ fill the cooker, overloading reduces cooking temperatures and the food may not cook through.
- Cool and pack any leftovers into the refrigerator within 2 hours. Always reheat well and don’t use the slow cooker for reheating food
- Browning meat and onions is not necessary but definitely makes a better flavoured result.
- Slow cooker recipes rarely dry out and in fact produce steam creating a lot of liquid. Therefore, most recipes require less or no liquid compared to cooking on the stove top or in the oven.
Spoon off any excess fat
- Mix 2-3 tsp cornflour with just enough cold water to make a smooth paste, pour into the slow cooker sauce and continue cooking for a further 10-15 minutes or until sauce thickens. This quantity will vary depending on the amount of liquid there is to thicken.
- Rub 1 Tbsp flour with 1 Tbsp butter to create a smooth paste. Drop balls of this into the slow cooker until you have the desired thickness.
- Before placing in the slow cooker, coat meat pieces with seasoned flour and brown in a pan. This helps thicken later without any starchy flavours.
- Alternately remove sauce and place in a saucepan and simmer to reduce it on the stovetop.
For more slow cooker safety tips or to know how to check the temperature of your slow cooker visit the NZ Food safety site.
Check out our delicious slow cooker recipes: