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Sausage and Mushroom Barley Risotto in the slow cooker

7 Ways to Improve Your Slow Cooker Game and Make Better Meals with Your Crock-Pot

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It’s a common misconception that slow cookers are foolproof. While totally user friendly, they are not robotic, and some culinary responsibility is still required in order to turn out tasty recipes. Here are a few tips and tricks from The Family Slow Cooker to set you on the path to slow cooking success:

  • There are many variations in slow cookers and yours is sure to have its own special quirks. Become familiar with them and know how to use them.
  • There is no universal standard for how hot the high and low settings can go, so cooking times can vary enormously between slow cooker models. Try to be home the first few times you use your slow cooker so you can be home to check on things.
  • When cooking a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times are only estimates and most good recipes will provide a wide range. Check your dish at the start of the estimated time or even earlier if you know your slow cooker runs particularly hot.
  • Try to avoid taking the lid off the slow cooker, if possible. Slow cooker pros say each time you take the lid off, it adds about 20 minutes of cooking time to the recipe, as all that warm steam escapes and the heat must accumulate again.
  • Cooking a dish twice as fast on high heat doesn’t deliver the same results as cooking it longer and at a lower temperature so be sure to follow the recipe directions for guaranteed success.
  • Recipes will cooking times of 3-4 hours should be saved for the weekends, or days when you know you’ll be in and out of the house and will be around to keep your eye on the dish.
  • Slow cookers are perfect for batch cooking soup, stews, sauce and chilis that freeze well.

PS: Read on for our four favourite surprising dishes you really can make in a slow cooker.

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