When you’re tired after a busy weekday, cooking is the last thing you might feel like doing – especially during winter. It is times like this when a slow cooker will become your new best friend.
Slow cooking is a genius way to enjoy delicious, flavoursome dishes with minimum effort. All you need to do is prep your ingredients, pop them into your slow cooker and let it work its magic.
Although you might be thinking, ‘I don’t have time to prepare for slow cooking during the week!’ these preparation tips will allow you to get the most from your slow cooker – and to make convenient and delicious meals.
Top tips to master your slow cooker preparation
Understand how your slow cooker works: It is important to understand your slow cooker and how each of its settings work. Many machines will have a low, high, and warm setting. For large roasts you can use your high settings. Lean proteins like chicken breasts, thighs or pork loins work well when braised on low, and bone-in on low for chicken. Stews and soups can use either low or high settings. The warm setting is perfect for keeping dishes hot for parties once they’re cooked.
Slice and dice ingredients: Evenly chopped pieces of meat and vegetables mean evenly cooked food. Your ingredients should be cut into even, bite-sized pieces so that they cook simultaneously.
Make slow cooker freezer packs: A handy little time-saving tip during busy weeks is to take time on a Sunday night to prepare freezer-ready packs for your slow cooker. These packs can take the stress out of your busy mornings and have your slow cooker ready to go in 10 minutes – ready for a day of cooking. All you need to do is:
- Place all of the vegetables and meats listed with your chosen recipe into zip lock freezer bags, keeping the meats and vegetables separated. Fold the top of the bag over and freeze lying flat. Remember to write the name of your recipe on the front of the bags.
- It is important to remember to take your freezer packs out of the freezer, and pop them into the fridge, the night before using your slow cooker. Meats and poultry should be safely thawed out up to a day before in the fridge. Frozen vegetables need to be thawed completely in the fridge as well.
Use your ‘keep warm’ function: Nearly all new models of slow cookers have a ‘keep warm’ function. This is handy if you are going to be out of the house longer than the time your recipe takes to cook. Once your meal is ready, the slow cooker should switch over to the ‘keep warm’ setting, ensuring your meal is kept toasty until it is ready to be served.
Know how far to fill: For best cooking results, fill your slow cooker at least halfway and no more than two-thirds full. You also need to remember not to overdo the liquids. Very little evaporation occurs in a slow cooker, compared to a stovetop or oven cooking.
Add dairy products later on: Never add dairy products in the beginning of the cooking process. Slow cooking can cause dairy products to curdle and aged cheese to become oily. Add your dairy products in around the last 60 minutes of cooking.
Brown meats and poultry: Although browning your meats off may add a few extra minutes in prep time, your recipe takes on a new flavour when browned first. If you have a little extra time, use a pan to lightly brown your meats and poultry ingredients before slow cooking them.
Slow cooker recipes for busy weeknights and lazy weekends
These beautiful and delicious slow cooker recipes are perfect for weeknights or lazy weekends. Now it’s time to get out the slow cooker and relax!
*DISCLAIMER: Breville is a contributing recipe Partner at myfoodbook.com.au. This feature includes a mix of content sourced from Breville and our own opinions. Find out more information about the Breville Slow Cooker.