Slow cookers - am I missing something? Most recipes I have found require plenty of pre-prep and I don´t want to fry onions at breakfast before work!(24 Posts)
I read all those wonderful messages about people who "sling" all their ingredients into their slow cookers before work and then come home to perfect suppers. But all the recipes I have found require onion frying, meat sealing etc on the hob before you start. I am definitely not doing that in the morning!
Am I missing something? Is it as easy as everyone says? Any recipes that
don´t require pre-prep?
You can do a lot of the recipes without all that - I often just throw onions, meat, veg etc in the slow cooker in the evening, put the pot in the freezer overnight and then just lift it into the slow cooker in the morning.
Also, look up "dump chicken" recipes. Essentially you put a whole load of things in a freezer bag with your chicken and shove in freezer. Night before you need it, you take it out and put in fridge to defrost, then dump in slow cooker in the morning.
As above. I dont think I've done much more than 5 minutes prep when using my slow cooker - I chop an onion and garlic, throw meat/other veggies and sauce in and leave it well alone for however long it needs... They are super easy x
I fry the onions and seal the meat the evening before (often at the same time as cooking an evening meal), sling it all in the pot, set the timer and it's done when I get home from work. Some people put the pot in the fridge overnight but I don't bother.
As for everyone else. In the
vanishingly rare moments when I am organised, prep happens the night before and the whole pot goes in the fridge for the night. I also like the idea of a frozen bag of stuff ready to go, but have never attained that advanced level of organisation.
I never fry onions or seal the meat - I usually prep veg the night before, keep in a tupperwear in the fridge overnight and chuck it all in in the morning
don't fry stuff - it makes no difference whatsoever.
The only meat I do on the hob first is mince. I don't bother flash frying anything else.
Maybe do it the night before and put it in a pot in the fridge. Take out first thing and sling in the slow cooker and switch on before you leave the house?
What are you wanting to make and maybe we can suggest short cuts?
Google slow cooker dump bags. I know. Charming name!
I've never bothered sealing meat or frying onions.
I do the same as other posters - do the prep the night before and store in the fridge overnight.
I'm interested to know this too. So can I brown chicken thighs and pop in the fridge over night?
I never brown or seal. Just chop and leave it to its own devices.
Many people have crap taste and are eating badly cooked slop
I am biased though, as I hate slow cookers. Buy a pressure cooker instead.
I always sweat the veg, it does make a difference, otherwise the slow cooker just makes it a bit hot and stringy.
you can get away without browning the meat, but I only do that for stuff with plenty of seasoning and a good stock.
Dump bags are a really good concept....I spent a couple of hours chopping/sweating onions and celery before letting it cool and then setting up freezer bags with a variety of meat to have a freezer full of stuff to defrost and hurl into the SC
things like Spanish chicken...onion stuff (as above), add in the sliced chicken, S&P, crushed garlic, paprika, chorizo, great big dod of red pesto make a note on the bag to add drained tinned beans, stock and a tin of tomatoes as you hurl it all into the slow cooker
country chicken....bacon, mustard, leeks, chicken, onion mix
....sky is the limit really!!
I don't bother sealing the meat or frying the onions but I do add a couple of spoonfuls of good onion marmalade to the pot before it goes on.
The reason for frying the onions is to caramelise their sugars and make them sweet and tasty. Onion marmalade is basically onions that have been slow fried themselves and are beautifully caramelised...
Thus adding some to a slow cooker dish gives you nice onion flavour for zero effort. Exact amount depends on the recipe, how much onion is needed, how strong the marmalade is (they're not all created equal!) and how much you want the taste in there... Add a spoon to start, try near the end of cooking and you can add more in with no effort, next time you'll know to use two spoons from the beginning.
I can't cook with onions as hubby has an intolerance so that's never an issue for me.
I never usually brown meat first. I've left mince out to defrost tonight and will chuck that in in the morning along with some spices and kidney beans and we'll have some yummy chilli waiting for us when we come home.
Not sure how using a slow cooker means I have 'crap taste' or that I'm eating 'badly cooked slop'.
The slow cooked stuff I do has been some of the nicest meals I've made and I make them for big family gatherings as you can bulk cook and it's really easy - it tends to get demolished within minutes so can't be that awful!
I don't understand it either, just cook the night before if you are doing all the chopping etc.
The reason for browning onion and meat in advance is flavour: it's called the Maillard reaction www.scienceofcooking.com/maillard_reaction.htm
The food will cook if you chuck everything into the pot, but you won't get the same richness.
You can add other things to partially make up for it, and some recipes aren't so dependent on it. Worcestershire sauce and mushroom ketchup are ways of adding savoury complexity in a hurry. Balsamic vinegar also adds sweetness. The effect won't be the same, but you could experiment.
Ultimately, you're the one eating it. Chuck everything in and see if you are happy with the result. If you think it's lacking something, try prep the night before, or additional ingredients.
Lack of Maillard reaction is a price I'm willing to pay quite frankly, if it means I can walk in the door from work and collecting child and dish up within seconds, have only one pot to wash and leftovers for another meal.
I also batch cook in slow cooker when organized so I can take mega healthy and fairly cheap lunches to work and avoid chipsville canteen. I do a lot of veggie slow cooker dishes involving beans/chickpeas similar and avoid the whole browning question.
I have occasionally used slow cooker for guests as opposed to quick and dirty mid week meals. On those occasions I would be more likely to use meat, and to brown it first. We have had some amazing meals from slow cooker. My fave slow cooker recipe book:
Maillard reaction isn't just about meat. As mentioned in the linked article, it's also the reason bread crusts brown, dark beers and coffee have their colour, and many other things. And then there's caramelisation, which is a different process which also enhances flavour. Both can happen simultaneously, depending on conditions.
But it's not always what you're aiming for, depending on the dish.
I'm lazy, I buy ready chopped onions / softie / casserole veg and chuck it in with whatever meat / sauce and leave it.
I'm a big fan of frozen veg including diced onions from the supermarket and I have sliced my own home grown onions and frozen them. I did use a food processor to slice them though.
Jambalaya in the Bee household -
Frozen veg - onions and peppers, tinned toms/passata, spices, chorizo (pre chopped from supermarket) pre frozen chicken breasts (bought frozen ones cook better than anything you freeze yourself) at dinner time, put rice on whether in a pan or microwave, whilst that is cooking shred the chicken breast and remove those pesky bay leaves. Serve.
Could not be simpler, very similar with curries. Takes 10 minutes tops, or you could simply do a batch of it in ziplock bags when you have more time, add the frozen chicken breasts and then when needed dump the contents into the slow cooker.
I am the same. I'm home around lunch so put it on then usually.
My zero prep favourites are jacket potatoes (literally just put in pot 4hrs high or 6-8 on low) - you don't get a crispy skin but my kids prefer it that way darn them!
Otherwise, stews with leftover roast meat. That therefore doesn't need browning and comes out super tender. Last one was Jamaican jerk lamb with leftovers from a roast leg of lamb.
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