Crockery Cooking Make-Ahead Tips

Starting your crockery dinner before you leave in the morning will be easier if you follow this schedule and do some or all of the preparation the day before.
Chicken and Mushrooms in Red Wine Chicken and Mushrooms in Red Wine

Prepare the meat: Brown the meat, drain well, and wrap in foil.

Prepare the vegetables: Clean and chop vegetables.

Chill overnight: Place the vegetables, seasonings, and liquids into a bowl or the crockery liner it if is removable. Chill vegetables and meat.

Meat for Your Cooker Your crockery cooker is great for cooking less expensive cuts of meat -- beef chuck pot roasts, brisket, and pork shoulder roasts -- because the long cooking at low heat tenderizes the meat. The low temperature also keeps the meat from shrinking as much as it does during other cooking methods.

For recipes that call for small cuts of meat (especially recipes reduced to fit into 1-quart cookers), keep your eyes peeled for specials at the meat counter. When meat is on sale, it's usually sold in large pieces. Buy these cuts and divide them into several smaller portions. Wrap individually, label, and freeze for later use.

Also be on the lookout for packaged smaller cuts of meat. Many supermarkets are beginning to sell small roasts and pot roasts. If your store offers only large roasts, ask the butcher to cut a 1- to 1-1/2-pound piece for you.

Soup and Stew Tips

Convenient Substitutes When a recipe calls for beef broth or chicken broth, you can, if you like, make homemade broth using your crockery cooker. But if you're in a hurry, don't despair. Excellent broth substitutes are available.

Canned chicken and beef broth are ready to use straight from the can. Instant bouillon granules and cubes can be purchased in beef, chicken, vegetable, and onion flavors. One cube or 1 teaspoon of granules mixed with 1 cup water makes an easy broth.

Top It Off

Heading our list of favorite soup toppings are crushed crackers, shredded cheese, toasted bread cubes or seasoned croutons, plain or cheese-flavored popcorn, shredded carrot, sour cream, and snipped parsley or chives.

Petite squares or triangles cut from toast (or more elaborate shapes cut with small cookie cutters) are fun to float on a soup. For extra flavor, spread the toast with flavored butter, cheese spread, or pesto before cutting.

Continued on page 2:  Freezing Tips