Tips for using a slow cooker
- Taking the time to brown the beef before cooking intensifies the flavour of your dish. Brown the beef in small batches. Keep the pan at moderately-high heat, which helps the meat to brown evenly rather than stew or burn in the pan
- For the best results, ensure the ingredients must fill the slow cooker to at least half way as a minimum and to no more ¾ capacity as a maximum. If it’s too full the meal won’t cook properly. If the slow cookers not full enough, the dish may overcook.
- Ensure the liquid doesn’t cover the food completely. This is because as the food steams during cooking, more liquid is produced.
- The high setting on the slow cooker allows you to cook your dish for between 4 – 5 hours. Stir occasionally to ensure a good flavour distribution.
- If you have more time, the low setting on a slow cooker allows you to cook your beef and lamb dish for between 8 – 10 hours. Little to no stirring is required.
- Keep the lid on during cooking to maintain the temperature.
Adapting your favourite beef and lamb recipes
Your favourite beef and lamb recipes can be easily cooked in a slow cooker. Check the recipe booklet that came with your particular slow cooker, find a recipe that’s similar to your recipe and use it as a guide. The most important rule is that you ensure the food and/or liquid fills at least half to three quarters of the removable bowl that sits in the slow cooker.
Smaller size slow cookers will generally take a regular recipe designed for 4 or 6 people. Cooking in the larger slow cookers may mean that you need to double the ingredients in the recipe.
If there's too much liquid in the dish after cooking, remove the lid and cook on the high setting for a further 30 – 40 minutes.
Converting a regular recipe for the slow cooker
As a general guide 1 hour of simmering on the cooktop or in the oven equates to about 5-6 hours on low or 2-2.5 hours on high in a slow cooker.
Since there is little evaporation when cooking with a slow cooker, you may need to reduce the amount of liquid which may be called for in a regular recipe. Reduce the liquid by a cup or two. Flour or cornflour is often used to thicken dishes cooked in the slow cooker for the same reason.