Tuesday's Tip: Adding flavor to slow cooker meals - FamilyEducation

Tuesday's Tip: Adding flavor to slow cooker meals

September 06,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Our Labor Day was spent in two very apropos ways; first, waiting for two family members who are due to have a baby, one of which had a “false alarm” labor and second, by laboring ourselves in our backyard.  It was a truly cool day, with weather in the 60s, instead of the 90s, a day that prompted SPH and I to take on a few too many outdoor projects.  I am beat.

Before I forget, if you are a teacher, be sure to enter the Del Monte giveaway!

This week’s tip was inspired by fall and slow cooker season.  It is just about this time each year that I dust out the slow cooker and begin using it regularly.  Just last week I used it twice!

While I love the convenience of the meals it helps prepare, SPH sometimes wearies of what he calls the “consistency factor” of slow cooked meals, ie, that everything out of the slow cooker is quite tender.  Tender soups and stews are great, but sometimes when we cook meat in the slow cooker, a little bit of browning and crust is desired.  

For today’s Tuesday’s Tip, I share two pictures to help demonstrate two techniques for avoiding too much, eh-hum, mush.

First, for roasts and other meat dishes, a good browning can provide all the difference in texture.  Simply take the meat and sear in a very hot pan to brown before placing it in the slow cooker:



Not only does this browning add color and a nice crust, it also provides richer, caramelized flavor and it renders out some of the fat.

To help meat retain the browning, or to create an appealing crust, make sure you prop up the meat in the slow cooker.  You can use balled up foil if need be, but I prefer using vegetables and onions, to add even more flavor to the dish:



Both of these tips can make your slow cooker meal turn out even better than you imagined!

Life is sweet,
SPC