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Slow-cooker help + recipe modification

My roommate's parents gave us a three-quart rice-cooker/slow-cooker/steamer (!) for Christmas and I'm just trying out the first recipe on its slow-cooker setting, a modification of this beef stew recipe. Except I've never actually owed a slow-cooker before, and I'm particularly apprehensive about not following recipes exactly! The ingredient modifications were small -- I halved the recipe since I only had half as much beef as it asked for, added my own fresh spices (mostly garlic and rosemary) instead of the suggested onion soup mix, and used red wine for the liquid. I'm not really worried about these modifications because other people in the comments on the original recipe had done similar things, but I am wondering if halving the recipe means that I need to change the timing at all to compensate.

Furthermore, though the recipe calls for 30 mins on high followed by 6 hrs on low, I started prep for this too late and would like to cook the whole time on high if possible, in order to have dinner ready in time. The recipe is very similar to a beef stew I make on the stovetop that takes about 3 hrs to cook, and a few different websites suggest that 3 hrs on stovetop translates to 4-6 hrs at the "high" setting of a slow-cooker, but I've also heard that you have to add half an hour to the cook time for every time you open the slow-cooker's lid to check how done things are! Not to mention that I imagine different slow-cookers will have different "high" temperatures... According to my slow-cooker's manual, "low" gets up to 200F and "high" gets up to 210F, if that helps.

Should I let it go 4 hours on high, then check and see how it's doing and add more time (or not) from there? Or will it turn out poorly if I don't use the low setting? Do I need to change the cook time because I halved the recipe?

And finally -- if you have any favorite slow-cooker recipes, send them my way! Roommate and I are both grad students with busy schedules this semester, so we're hoping to use the slow-cooker to ensure we can eat well and still get our work done! (We also tend to prefer recipes that are more "from scratch" -- letting us use fresh spices rather than packaged mixes or soup concentrates whenever possible -- so any suggestions on how to sub out condensed soups in slow-cooker recipes would be lovely!)

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
countrygirl4ver
Jan. 18th, 2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
First off. I love slow cookers. I use them often and the household I am in we have three. A big one, a medium one, and a small one. Each cooks things slightly differently. I have never had one that also functions as a rice cooker and steamer.

The key statement in the first part of this response though is what you need to focus on. Each cooks slightly differently. The medium one (which is truly mine) I purchased for me to make the things I like. Pot roast and corned beef. That one cooks very nicely, and is probably the one I see as the most accurate. I would do with it exactly what you are asking, just cook things on high. KNowing htat I was starting it at around 9am and knowing by 5pm-6pm when I would be eating dinner everything would be done. The larger one, if I did that things would be over cooked, on that one I would have to turn down to low. (The little one is essentially only big enough for the little cocktail dogs and b-b-que sauce it was bought for.).

Sadly you are going to have to just try it to see what temp yours cooks at. IF it is at a rapid boil you will have to turn it down or it willl boil off your liquid. You really shouldnt need to decrease cooking time that much for halfing the recipe.

I regularly do pot roast with lots of onion, potatoes, garlic, carrots, using rosemary from my garden and just a can of beer or a bit of wine.

Good Luck and have fun.
helenatroy
Jan. 19th, 2013 12:12 am (UTC)
well, I see you did say you prefer from scratch - but my fave slow cooker recipe is japanese curry rice. You get a block of curry from the J-food store (I usually go for the brand "House") cook your meat, carrots & potatoes then put all that in the slow cooker, cook up some japanese white rice and with it you have 'fukujinzuke' - that's the pickle that goes with curry-rice.

I'm looking forward to seeing people's suggestions :)

Edited at 2013-01-19 01:25 am (UTC)
kestrelcat
Jan. 19th, 2013 04:43 am (UTC)
I love our slower cooker. As a busy mama it's a lifesaver. Here's a collection of some of the slow cooker recipes I have up on my LJ http://kestrelcat.livejournal.com/tag/slow%20cooker.... You might also checkout this LJ group. http://what-a-crock.livejournal.com/ Good folks here and a wealth of knowledge.

Cheers-
KC
stormypinkness
Jan. 21st, 2013 10:52 pm (UTC)
I generally use recipes that take a long time on low because I am gone all day at work. It can be really nice to have something made already. I also often will make something in the afternoon or evening and then it has time to sit until the next day.

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (crockpot)

3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large yellow onion, cut in half then sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
About 1/3 bottle of barbecue sauce of your choice

Add chicken to crock, sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Add onions, garlic, and sauce. Mix around. Cook on low 7-8 hours. Drain liquid, shred chicken, add rest of bottle of barbecue sauce. Leave on low for a bit for the shredded chicken to soak up the sauce. Serve on buns.

Italian Beef (crockpot)

2.5-3 lb. chuck roast
1 chopped onion
4-5 chopped cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. sugar
heaping 2 tsp. dried oregano
heaping 1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
heaping 1 tsp. dried basil
heaping 1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. celery seed
heaping 1 tsp. Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute (or about 1/2 tsp. each of onion and garlic powder and a small pinch of red pepper flakes)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. beef bullion granules (or two cubes)
1.5 cups water

Throw in crockpot. Mix around. Let sit in fridge overnight if you want (I assemble the night before and then cook during day). Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Somewhere around 8 or 9 hours drain as much fat as you can and shred meat. Keep on low and let meat sit and soak up all the juices for a while. Serve on nice buns with thinly sliced red onion, pepperocinis, and top with provolone. Melt cheese in oven. Consume with vigor you didn't know you had.

Marinara Sauce (crockpot)

2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 bay leaves (or a pinch of dried thyme)
1 Tbs. dried basil
1/2 Tbs. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. italian seasoning
small pinch of red pepper flakes.
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2-1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil.

Combine ingredients in crockpot. Mix very well, get all the tomato paste spread out. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. If your crockpot dries things out you can add 1/2-1 cup water.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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