Slow Cooker Help

Ah, my loyal readers. There you are, everyday, reading my words. How I love thee!

[totally buttering you up =]

How, pray tell, dose one use the slow cooker? I get the basic concept: put meat, vegetables, and water in pot. But, um, when I, like, do that, you know, I like, um, end up with, you know, the same thing, like, every time.

More succinctly put, I put the pork in there with some veggies and herbs, then the water, and I get a watery pork soup type thing.

So I guess what I’m asking is how much water do I put in? I always think I need to cover the meat with water but that doesn’t seem to be the case. This time I put water in so all but the tip of the pork is covered and left the temp on low (it has two settings). Wolf and I would like to eat tonight and not have it be a pork soup, more like a pork roast.

Opinions and suggestions please!

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16 Responses to Slow Cooker Help

  1. tara says:

    First, go visit this blog: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
    She has a recipe for every single day of the year using the CrockPot. You can learn a lot from her mistakes and successes and also find a lot of really simple recipes.

    Second, I would not more than a cup total of liquid in there. It’s hard for me to tell you exatcly what I would do because most of my cooking goes by what looks right, not by measurements. But I would say to try about a cup of vegetable stock to start. If you can, keep an eye on it and if it dries up add more liquid.

  2. Howling Hill says:

    Tara: awesome site! I’ll go and take some of the water out. I’m like you in that I cook mostly by sight not by measurement. But for some reason I always think it doesn’t look right if there isn’t water up to the top of the cooker.

    Thanks!

  3. Allie says:

    I’ve roasted turkey breasts in the slow cooker before. You do need some water (or broth or white wine), but it certainly doesn’t have to cover – totally agree with Tara on 1 cup. It’s also fantastic for making chili, squash, etc. I’m doing the lentil recipe I had on my site yesterday in the cooker today. I’ve also used it to make apple butter. So easy.

  4. Kathie says:

    I’d say a cup to two cups of water/broth should be plenty. The slow cooker keeps water in, so as the water gets warmer and creates steam, the steam hits the lid condenses, cools, and turns back into water falling into your pot. It doesn’t really evaporate meaning you don’t need much water. I put whole chickens in the crockpot with no added water and leave it cook all day. The chicken creates its own water and I’ve never had a problem…

  5. Patty says:

    Try using a can of cream of mushroom (or cream of chicken..depending on what you are making) soup with about two cans of water. (this is for the smaller crockpot…or what I call normal size cockpot)
    This will thicken up and adds a good flavor, if your doing beef add the mushroom mixture and a package of onion soup mix..
    Hope it turns out ok

  6. Turtleheart says:

    I know that for slow cooking, you are supposed to use very, very little liquid. Like less than a cup. And it seems to me that most recipes I make use a thick liquid, like a concentrated soup, with a little bit of some sort of “thin” liquid. Can’t help you much more than that in a “general” answer, I’m a recipe follower when it comes to the crock pot– but here’s our ultimate favorite recipe:

    BEEF BURGUNDY

    1 10 3/4 oz can condensed golden mushroom soup
    3/4 C burgundy or red cooking wine
    1/4 C quick cook tapioca
    1 tsp thyme, crushed
    1/4 tsp pepper
    3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1 large onion, sliced
    1 lb lean beef stew meat, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
    8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
    3 C hot cooked noodles

    1. Stir together soup, wine, tapioca, thyme, pepper in crock pot.
    2. Add carrots & onion. Top with stew meat & mushrooms.
    3. Cover, cook on low heat 8 to 10 hours, high heat 4 to 5 hours.
    4. Serve over hot cooked noodles.

    If you can’t find golden mushroom soup, cream of mushroom works fine, but not as rich of a flavor. I use mini carrots and add lots of extra. I serve it over whole wheat noodles and we’ve also had it over rice. It’s yummy!

  7. Turtleheart says:

    PS- Now I’m off to check out that crock pot link from Tara. Thanks, Tara!

  8. Howling Hill says:

    After I read Tara’s comment I went and took about a cup or two out of the crockpot but I was too scared to take it all out. What I now have is a nice pork mash. The pork is all nice and tender and has come apart and the veggies are super squishy but still there’s a lot of water in the pot. Now I know* so next time I’ll only put a small amount in. Thanks everyone!

    *And knowing is half the battle. Can you identify the quote without looking at the link?

  9. Judy says:

    I’m late into this discussion but I have also been known to put in a pork roast or whole chicken with no liquid at all. It still ends up with plenty of juice for gravy in the pan. But I usually do my veggies separately- we’re gone for 9 hours at a stretch so they tend to get overly mushy for my taste.

  10. Howling Hill says:

    Judy: better late than never.

    The veggies were, in fact, quite squishy but that’s ok. Wolf liked the meal better than I did. Too much meat I think. Next time I’ll throw some rice and beans in there I think.

  11. tara says:

    Happy to hear that there was some progress! I have a serious love affair with my slow cooker, so I am always happy to spread the joy. ;)

  12. SkippyMom says:

    Crockpots aren’t meant to use a lot of water/broth/liquid like conventional cooking. In fact, less is more in crockpot cooking. The long cooking time brings the moisture out of what you are cooking…so you probably need to remove even more liquid or cook a little less if everything is coming out squishy.

    If you are cooking for a long period of time [as in 8 hours while you are at work] better recipes are soups and stews as they would not dehydrate since you aren’t home to watch them and add a bit more liquid.

    Roasts and meats with gravies need to be watched a bit more.

    One of the easiest pork roast recipes I have:

    1 4 lb pork loin
    1 bag sauerkraut [drained]
    1 can chicken broth

    Place sauerkraut in, place loin on top and pour whole can of broth over ingredients. Use cracked pepper and minced garlic to season pork loin [do this after pouring the broth so not to wash it off]

    Cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

    Serve with mashed potatoes and a veg.

    **Rice is incredibly tricky – it can’t be thrown in at the beginning – check your owner’s manual for help with this

    Good luck. Trust the recipes you read and after a while you will be okay to “throw” something together…but the recipes do work.

  13. SkippyMom says:

    **the rice comment was in response to what you said above – as I don’t put rice in with my pork loin recipe.

  14. Howling Hill says:

    Tara: I’m just starting out a relationship with my slowcooker despite buying it last year or the year before.

    SkippyMom: thanks for letting me know about the rice. I thought you could just throw it in there easy as pie. Guess not.

  15. Alyss says:

    I’ve been working hard to get my slow cooker working for me as well lately. I’ve found a couple things to be helpful – first is reading slow cooker recipes from TRUSTED sources. I love the Crockpot 365 blog and love the inspiration she has given me. I also love the Cook’s Illustrated Cover and Bake recipe book. That book only has a half dozen crock pot recipes but they are all Cook’s Illustrated good… in other words, unbelieveably good :) Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner books and website also has some good crock pot recipes. The Fix it and Forget it cookbooks do not qualify, and neither does anything with cream-of-whatever soup in it :)
    Second – my boyfriend just bought me a lamp timer to use with my crock pot. Oh, my, lord – what a difference! The crock pot was on for 6 hours instead of 8 and the food tasted so, so SO much better. I haven’t found any commercial crock pot that has the timer settings I want, so this is a perfect solution. It turned off an hour before I got home but everything was piping hot still.
    Here are crock pot recipes that I have had success with lately. I hope they work for you too:
    http://www.recipezaar.com/Crock-Pot-BBQ-Pork-316983
    http://www.recipezaar.com/Crock-Pot-Thai-Chicken-Curry-326197
    I Don't Even Like Beef Stew

  16. Howling Hill says:

    Alyss: Awesome! Thanks so much!

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