Adapting Recipes for Slow Cooking
Adapting recipes for the slow cooker is not difficult but you have to follow some guidelines. The most important thing to remember is that there is no evaporation in slow cooking so liquid amounts will not decrease with cooking time.
In fact, you'll have more liquid at the end of cooking than you started out with. So it's best if you reduce liquid by half or 1 cup total at most.
I have found that 1 cup of liquid IS really more than enough for most recipes. Exceptions are if you're cooking pasta, rice or soup.
When choosing recipes to adapt, choose those that take 45 minutes and above to cook. This is because those recipes generally use ingredients that will hold up to long cooking times. Here's a time-conversion chart:
|OVEN OR STOVETOP COOK TIME||COOKING TIME IN SLOW COOKER ON LOW||COOKING TIME IN SLOW COOKER ON HIGH|
|15 TO 30 minutes||4 TO 6 hours||1-1/2 TO 2-1/2 hours|
|35 TO 45 minutes||6 TO 8 hours||3 TO 4 hours|
|50 minutes TO 3 hours||8 TO 12 hours||4 TO 6 hours|
If adapting recipes for soups, add soup ingredients to slow cooker or crock pot. then add only enough water or broth to cover. If a thinner soup is desired, add more liquid at serving time.
Tips on Adapting Recipes for the Slow Cooker or Crockpot
- Amount of Liquid: When adapting recipes, reduce amount of liquid in your recipe by one-half (1 cup of liquid is enough for most recipes).
- Amount of Seasoning: Reduce amount of seasoning in proportion with reduced amount of liquid. Use whole or leaf herbs and spices rather than crushed or ground forms.
- Dairy products: Sour cream, milk or cream tends to break down during long cooking processes. Add them during the last 30 minutes of cooking. In come cases, you can add condensed soup or evaporated milk in place of milk when using the slow cooker for several hours.
- Meat: Less tender, cheaper cuts of meat are better suited to slow cooking than expensive cuts of meat. Remove excess fat before slow cooking if desired. Browning meats is not required but is worthwhile if you have the time.
- Rice and Pasta: When rice and pasta are cooked for long periods of time they become starchy and pasty. To prevent this from happening, cook rice or pasta on the stove and add them to the slow cooker a few minutes before serving.
- Soups:Add all ingredients except water or broth to pot; add only enough liquid to cover ingredients.
- Thickening Juices for Gravies and Sauces: To thicken juices for gravies and sauces after cooking, mix 2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch or flour and ¼ cup cold water. Pour mixture into dish. Bring to a boil at HI. Solid foods may be removed first if desired.
- Vegetables: Make sure vegetables are cut into pieces that are similar in size and shape. Vegetables that cook quickly (such as peas, spinach) should be added during the last 20 or 30 minutes of the cooking process.