A Crock-Pot®, also called a slow cooker, is a pot that slowly cooks food on your counter, rather than on the stove. The pot has an A/C cord and a vented lid, but no temperature controls aside from a high and low setting, as the temperature of a Crock-Pot® gradually increases over the long cooking period and turns off automatically. The Crock-Pot® is designed to cook unattended so that you can add ingredients to the pot in the morning before work, then come home eight to 10 hours later, to a perfectly cooked meal.
A Crock-Pot® never needs preheating and meals cooked in a Crock-Pot® retain their juices and flavors because of the design and slow-cooking method. You can even add frozen meats to a Crock-Pot®. Just add 1 cup (235 ml) of warm liquid to the pot first and calculate in an extra four to six hours if cooking on low, or an extra two hours cooking on high.
Foil and baking bags can also be placed inside a Crock-Pot®, and there's no need to lift the lid and stir the contents during cooking. In fact this will release the heat which will cause the food to take longer to cook. The only exception to this rule is seafood dishes. For uncooked fish or shellfish, stir the contents during the last 30 minutes. If the fish is precooked, stir for the last few minutes.
The average roast will take about 10 to 12 hours on low, or six to eight hours on high, allowing you two time options to fit your schedule. To ensure the meat is fully cooked you can use a meat thermometer towards the end of the cooking process. Beef and pork should read between 160 – 170° Fahrenheit (71 – 77° C) while poultry should reach 180° F (82° C). Meat does not have to be browned beforehand, but you can pre-cook very fatty meats to remove some of the excess fat, before adding the meat to the Crock-Pot®.
If pasta is to be added to the recipe it should be cooked traditionally in rapidly boiling water until it is just tender, then added to the Crock-Pot® for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
A Crock-Pot® is an excellent, safe way, to cook meals unattended so that the next time you come home from that busy day at work, your meal can be already waiting, steaming hot, full of aroma and flavor, and cooked just the way you like it.