Slow-Cooker Smarts

Follow these tips to make your meals tastier and safer.

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Slow Cooker

It's easy to toss ingredients in your electric slow cooker and walk away. But you'll get the best results when you put a little extra care into the preparation.

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  • Save time in the morning by preparing ingredients for tomorrow's dinner the night before. Place ingredients (except for partially-cooked meats) in your cooker and keep the cooker or liner in your refrigerator overnight. If you don't have space for your cooker, chop fresh vegetables and store them separately in tightly-sealed containers. Be sure you cover cut-up potatoes with water so they don't discolor before cooking. It's OK to brown ground meat and refrigerate overnight because browning fully cooks the meat. However, if your recipe calls for a roast or cubed meat for stew, brown the meat just before plugging in your slow cooker because browning doesn't completely cook those cuts.
  • Schedule your cooking by using a plug-in timer. Be sure ingredients in the cooker are well-chilled and set timer to start within two hours. Do not use this delayed cooking method for recipes that include frozen fish or poultry.

Seasoned With Taste Timing matters when you're cooking with herbs. Because dried herbs have more staying power, crush and add them at the beginning of cooking. Add fresh herbs just minutes before serving -- except for rosemary, which can survive long hours in a cooker.

On The Road Before you leave home with dinner in your cooker, wrap the top in foil to secure the lid. If you're going a long distance, cover the cooker with several layers of newspapers or towels; place in an insulated container for up to two hours. Keep an extension cord handy so you can plug in the pot at your destination.

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