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Johnson's Catering & Ice Sculpting Gournet Meal

>> Crockpot Cokking Tips

The main advantage of slow cooking is to set and forget it. You do not need to tend the pot. By all means do not hesitate to leave your home while your crockpot is on.

DO make sure it is not touching the walls or other appliances. Stirring is not required for the great majority of crock- pot recipes.

Occasionally I encounter one that requires basting, but that is most infrequently. KEEP IT COVERED LEAVE THE LID ON. I cannot stress this point enough. Every time the crockpot is uncovered, 1/2 cooking time is lost. NEVER remove the lid during the first two hours when baking breads or cakes. Most pots have a glass lid, so you can see pretty much what’s going on inside. If for some reason you must open the pot, make sure you do all your additions then to minimize overall heat loss.

It is best to follow the recipe's instructions, but a general rule of thumb is ONE HOUR ON HIGH EQUALS TWO HOURS ON LOW. If for some reason you cannot be there at exactly the time specified to turn it off, don't worry. Because of the low cooking temperatures your food will not burn.

Allow more time than given in the recipe at altitudes over 4000 feet.

There are generally two temperature settings, low and high. Low is 200 degrees and high is 300 degrees.

When using frozen foods in a recipe, thawing prior to adding them to the pot is essential, actually more because you risk damage to a ceramic pot liner. If you must cook a frozen product, be sure to add one cup of
warm liquid to act as a "cushion" to prevent sudden changes in temperature. If you have a metal crockpot you may add frozen items but several extra hours of cooking time must be added as well.

Because so little evaporation takes place when cooking with this method, spices tend to be intensified. I am careful not to over-season and just before serving make my corrections.

To save time, aluminum foil may be placed under the crock pot lid. The foil reflects the heat back onto the food and I feel keeps the heat in the pot a little more efficiently. Vegetables intended for the crockpot should be cut into bite-size pieces not only for convenience in eating, but for better cooking, too.

Surprisingly, vegetables can take longer to cook than meat in Crockpots. The vegetables will be more tender if you cut the veggies
into pieces around 1/2 inch.

When the oven is full and all burners on the range are in use, (as in cooking a holiday dinner), pull out your crockpot. You can cook such things as bread, puddings, baked beans and custard in the crockpot.

You can prepare steamed bread or pudding in a shaped mold or jars in the crockpot, too. Do NOT use shortening cans, coffee cans or vegetable cans for cooking in the crockpot. Most cans contain lead and are painted with or sealed with materials that give off toxic gases when heated. If you use jars, use only CANNING jars. They are tempered and will withstand the heat. Choose straight-sided canning jars with WIDE mouths because otherwise it's more difficult to get the food out of the jars. To assure that the bake cake or bread will slip out easily, grease the inside of the jar and line the bottom of the jar with waxed paper. Cover each jar with a piece of foil greased on one side. Place the greased side DOWN and press the foil around the edges of the jar to seal tightly.

When it's cold and damp outside, you can simmer hot beverages which will stay at perfect sipping temp.And the aroma of spiced tea or punch will appeal to your family and/or guests. They can serve themselves from the crockpot.

Dips and other appetizers such as meatballs will stay at the right temp. and consistency for several hours in the crockpot.


Tips for recipe success:

  1. Buy roasts and other large cuts of meat that will fit in your crock pot, or plan to trim them to fit.
  2. Remove skin from poultry and trim excess fat from other meats before cooking.
  3. When thickening sauces near the end of cooking time, turn the heat setting to high to speed the process. Taste the liquid first, though; if it lacks flavor, it may be best to reduce by simmering several minutes uncovered.
  4. Do taste and season. Since slow cookers sometimes dilute flavors over a long period, be creative with your seasonings. Seasoned salt, garlic powder, seasoned pepper, and complementary herbs and spices are best added near the end of cooking.
  5. Colors tend to fade in slow cooked foods, but garnishes such as chopped fresh parsley, chives, tomatoes, red peppers, cheese, or sour cream can add much visual appeal.


Usually liquids may be decreased in slow cooking - about half the recommended amount. Unless the dish contains rice or pasta, one cup of liquid is usually enough.

Pasta and Rice:
If a recipe calls for cooked pasta to be added, cook it until just slightly tender before adding to the pot. Add 1/4 extra liquid per 1/4 cup uncooked rice, and use long grain converted rice for the best results. For long-cooking recipes, add cooked rice shortly before serving.

I find it best to soak beans overnight before cooking them in the crockery cooker. The Rival brochure recommends pre-soaking then boiling for at least 10 minutes in unsalted water, draining, then add to
the recipe. Before adding sugar or acidic ingredients, the beans should be softened first, either in the slow cooker or on the stove top. If your recipe includes tomatoes, salt, or other acidic ingredients, the beans
should be tender before beginning. Someone wrote recently that instead of pre-soaking, she cooks her beans (in the crockery cooker) on low for about 8 hours through the night in water with a little baking soda. In
the morning, she drains the beans, adds the ingredients with fresh liquid, then cooks per recipe directions. Cooking times might be shorter using this method.

Herbs and Spices:
Ground herbs and spices tend to dissipate over long cooking times, so it's best to add them near the end of cooking. Whole herbs release flavors over time, so are a good choice for crockery cooking. You should taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary, before serving.

Milk, sour cream, and cream break down over long periods of cooking, and should be added during the last hour. Condensed cream soups are good substitutions for milk and can be cooked for extended times.
"Healthy," or reduced fat cream soups can be used in any recipe as a substitute.

Cheeses don't generally hold up over extended periods of cooking, so should be added near the end of cooking, or use processed cheeses and spreads.

Add water only to cover ingredients in soup, and add more after cooking if necessary for a thinner soup. For milk based soups, add 1 or 2 cups of water and during the last hour, stir in milk, evaporated milk, or cream as called for.

Over long cooking, some dishes may lack flavor, but some extra preparation steps can be worthwhile. Though it isn't necessary to brown most meats first, flavor is often enhanced by browning, and fat is decreased. Dredging meat or chicken in flour, browning, then deglazing the pan with wine, a little vinegar, or broth and adding that to the pot can make quite a big difference in flavor. For the best color and texture, ground beef is best browned before using, except in meatloaf or other similar dishes. To simplify preparation, brown ground beef, drain, and
freeze in batches for your crockpot meals.

To make a flavorful sauce or gravy from your cooking liquid, first make a roux of flour and water (roughly 1 tablespoon of each for each cup of liquid) in a medium saucepan. Skim the fat from the cooking liquid in the slow cooker then add the liquid to the roux. Simmer, stirring, until
the sauce is thickened and reduced. Serve with or over meat and/or vegetables. You can also add cornstarch dissolved in water (1 or 2 tablespoons cornstarch to 2 or 3 tablespoons cold water, depending on how much liquid you have) directly to the slow cooker near the end of cooking to thicken the liquids.

Crockery cooker or slow cooker - what's the difference?
The most common models have a crockery pot insert and the heating elements are housed in the sides, so the heat actually surrounds the food. The two heat settings are low (200 degrees) and high (300 degrees). The slow cooker, or "multi-cooker" usually cooks from the bottom and might have a thermostat allowing a wide range of temperatures.

Even if your slow cooker has a crockery insert, you may need to stir some recipes occasionally to prevent scorching. Every time the lid is lifted, add 20 minutes to the overall cooking time. Even at the low setting, internal temperatures of foods are raised well above 140 degrees, the minimum temperature at which bacteria are killed.Fish and seafood are not usually good candidates for the slow cooker, and should be added late in any recipe for soup or chowder.

Do I have to brown meats before adding them?
Browning meats help reduce the fat content and enhance the flavor and texture of dishes, but it is not necessary. Because of the condensation in a slow cooker, reduce the liquid if you are making a sauce or gravy
from it. A timer will allow you to cook a dish requiring 6 hours even though you will be away for 8 hours. Make sure all ingredients are chilled, and for safety, start the cooking no longer than 2 hours later. For poultry, no
longer than 1 hour later. The cooked food should not stand for longer than 2 hours after the cooking time ends.

Another alternative for a dish requiring a short cooking time is to cook it the night before, cool for no longer than 2 hours, and refrigerate. Heat it in the microwave the next day. Popular sizes are 3 1/2-, 4-, and 5-quart models. Most have removable liners. The 3 1/2-quart models are fine for most dishes and needs, but the 5-quart models allow you to insert other dishes, such as souffle, spingform pans, or pudding molds, giving you a wider range of options. Manufacturers usually recommend filling the pot half to three-quarters full, so if you're cooking for two, this might be an important consideration.

Two secrets for cake-baking in a crockpot: use less than1 cup of sugar for every 2 cups flour. And use a liner. (Kitchen parchment to be used as a liner is available in most department store housewares sections. It's
reusable and keeps food from sticking. Substitute buttered or oiled brown shopping bag paper, if you want).

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Johnson's Catering provides cooking classes, catering, and ice sculpting (ice carving) in Birmingham, AL and surrounding
areas. Chef Donnell can also come to you which means that if you are close to Alabama, he can come to your town and
create the ice scuptures in your area to minimize problems with delivery and transportation.