Great Slow Cooker Tricks to Get the Most Out of Your Meat

Slow cookers are a great way to save time, but if you want to take your slow cooker recipes to the next level, order a truLOCAL fresh meat delivery box today!

A slow cooker or crock pot is one of the best tools you can have in your kitchen if you want to make the most of your truLOCAL order. Not only are slow cookers perfect for hearty stews and soups, they also make it easier to cook meats like brisket that require a low and slow approach.

We know that many of your customers use our online meat delivery service not only because of the high quality local and sustainable meat it provides, but also because it saves huge amounts of shopping time and makes home cooking easier.

Pairing your truLOCAL meat box with a slow cooker is a fantastic recipe for healthy, convenient meals, so here are our top five tips for getting the most out of slow cooker meat dishes.

1. Start the Meat at Room Temperature

One of the things that a lot of us like about our slow cookers is that we can fill the pot with fresh ingredients, set the temperature low, and leave it for the day. But while most slow cooker recipes only require minimal preparation, that doesn’t mean they require no preparation.

If you’re ordering from truLOCAL’s top quality selection of meats then you want to make sure you can enjoy every last ounce of flavour, which is why it’s a good idea to defrost meat before cooking.

This will ensure it is flexible and relaxed, and better able to redistribute heat so it cooks evenly. Make sure you follow food safety guidelines when thawing to avoid contamination.

2. Add More Liquid Than You Think You’ll Need

The art of slow cooking is all about time and liquid, and one of the most common mistakes first-time chefs make is not using enough broth to cook the meat properly, which can lead to dry or unevenly cooked dishes.

For example, if you are cooking a whole chicken you’ll want to make sure that there is plenty of broth covering the bird, as it will cook down over time and potentially expose the breasts or drum sticks. Remember, any extra liquid at the end can be used to make a glaze or sauce, so there really is no such thing as too much broth.

3. Brown Your Meat First

One of the most transformative changes you can make when preparing slow cooker meat is by browning the cuts first to bring out as much flavour as possible. For example, one great way to make pork side ribs is to sear them in butter in a cast iron frying pan before adding them to your slow cooker.

Cooking meat at a high temperature activates what is known in cooking science as the Maillard Reaction, a process by which sugars and acids on the surface of meats and other protein-laden foods are rearranged to create exciting new flavours and a brownish colour.

If you’ve ever grilled a steak, you’re familiar with the basic idea; it’s why grilled, baked, or fried foods are tastier than boiled ones (boiling water isn’t hot enough to initiate the reaction). Browning your meat first will add these complex flavours to your broth, leading to an overall tastier dish.

4. Cook Some Meats the Day Before

As any meat lover knows, slow cookers are one of the best tools to use when cooking tougher cuts of beef like brisket or chuck steak. Cooked on the “low and slow” principle, they can break down the collagen that makes these meats so tough, yielding tender, delicious morsels that practically melt in your mouth.

But many expert chefs will go one step further and cook these kinds of meats the day before they plan on serving them so the flavours and juices have a chance to settle. If you want your slow cooker shredded beef to really steal the show, cook it early and let it settle for a few hours before serving.

5. Use a Tenderizer

Because slow cooked meat tends to get pretty tender and soft during the cooking process, many home cooks don’t bother tenderizing cuts of meat before adding them to the broth in their slow cooker.

But tenderizers don’t just exist to break down collagen — they are also one of the best gadgets for cooking meat that is filled with flavour because they create small holes that allow spices and other seasonings to enter the deep tissues of the meat.

If you’ve ever bitten into a piece of stewing beef or pork tenderloin and found that the inside is significantly less juicy and flavourful than the outside, you’ll understand the difference a tenderizer can make. Buying a good model that will soften the meat while also expanding the surface area available to receive flavour is a great way to bring your slow cooker game to the next level.

For most busy urbanites, slow cookers have become an absolutely essential tool for the modern kitchen.

Not only does it do great work preparing dry goods like black beans or chickpeas, it can also transform your meat game by helping you get the most out of tougher meats like chicken thighs, briskets, and pork shoulder, and by giving you the tools you need to make your very own bone broth.

But like any kitchen gadget, unlocking the full potential of your slow cooker requires that you understand how to use it. Tips like starting your meat at the right temperature, browning and tenderizing it first, adding enough liquid and preparing some dishes in advance are all great ways to make your slow cooker do even more.

And if you’re looking for menu ideas, why not optimize your next truLOCAL meat box for slow cooker recipes and rediscover how much fun cooking fresh local meat can be!

Posted on April 9th, 2020