New / used crock pot
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?