New / used crock pot

gnappiMarch 14, 2013

I'll apologize in advance if this has been discussed before.

I've been cooking all my life...literally. My Mom was a chef and cooking stuck to me like glue. However I've never owned a crock pot and recently bought a little as new one (I'm single and have no need for a large model) in a thrift shop to test the crock pot waters.

Naturally it did not come with directions, or recipes so...

I figure it's analogous to a slow pressure cooker and started with an old stew recipe (it's still cooking as I write this) and I have no expectation of it coming out good. If not I figure it's easy to feed the dog with the results of my test :-) She does not have as sophisticated a palette as I do.

My main intent is to have a battery of stew like recipes that can cook overnight for lunch the next day as I work in an area that has precious few places nearby to eat, so "slow" cooking is my main interest.

My main questions are:

1. How much water to use by pot volume?

2. Should meats be brazed before cooking?

3. For the most tender meat results what would the best cooking times be. I'm hoping to let it cook while I sleep, 6-7 hours.

4. I like "lively" spicy foods. Will long cook times cause a choking maisma like atmosphere in the house? Not that it would bother me but, I have a cat and dog and have to consider their more delicate senses!

5. Should ingredients like potatoes be added later in the cook cycle to prevent them from falling apart?



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Gary, I'm not an expert as I don't use the crockpot often, but I usually brown the meat before adding it to the crockpot and I always follow the instructions to fill the pot at least 2/3 to 3/4 full. I don't add a lot of liquid, only enough to accomplish whatever I'm trying to make, as it doesn't really evaporate.

Cooking time depends on the meat product. Beef I let go for 8 hours, usually on low. Chicken cooks more quickly and gets a strange texture if overcooked. I haven't been able to successfully cook ground beef products and have them edible, the texture is just too mushy.

I've made spicy foods in the Crockpot with no ill effects, and I'm a wuss, so you're probably safe. As for vegetables, for some reason they seem to take longer to cook, not less time, but I like them to be tender, not crisp.

Crockpots also cook differently, so you'll have to experiment with yours and see how it works, especially since it is a thrift shop model. You might be able to find the instruction manual online.

Welcome to the cooking forum!


    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:25PM
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You should also test the temperature. These are the how-to instructions from the Extension Service.

1. Fill the slow cooker 1/2 to 2/3 full.
2. Heat on LOW or 200ðF on digital units for eight hours.
3. Check the water temperature with an accurate instant read food thermometer. Do this quickly because the temperature drops 10 to 15 degrees when the lid is removed.
4. The temperature of the water should be 185ð to 200ðF.

Temperatures below 185ðF indicate that your slow cooker does not heat food high enough or fast enough
to avoid possible food safety problems. If your slow
cooker doesn't pass this test, don't use it. It's unsafe
to use and should be replaced! Temperature readings
above 200ðF indicate that food cooked for 8 hours
without stirring would be overdone.

Check out some slow cooker (aka Crock Pot) cookbooks from your local library. The link below has a lot of information.


Here is a link that might be useful: Crock-Pot Hints & Tips

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 5:14AM
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Always use the lid and resist the temptation to left the lid and stir. Leave it alone!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 10:26AM
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The water temperature drops 10 to 15 degrees when the lid is removed? Really? I have trouble believing that. If so, wouldn't the same thing apply on a stove? Dense I am, I admit but I'm missing something here. Now I'll buy that the air temp in the open space will drop that amount but the water?

For potatoes, I'd add them later. On a pot roast, I put some onions, celery & carrot, etc as a base for the roast to sit on and the resulting mush becomes part of the gravy but potatoes and carrots for consumption as a side dish are added later usually. I even add beans after the chili has simmered a while so they don't become mush.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 3:19PM
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I have found that crock pot recipes need a little less liquid than standard recipes as none evaporates. With the full amount of liquid the food is quite watery.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 10:44PM
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