January is the perfect time for warm comfort food. You would be hard-pressed to find an easier way to make a hot and delicious dinner than with your slow cooker. This winter, the editors of Taste of the South have collected some of their best recipes for slow cookers in their latest special edition, Southern Slow Cooker.
They’ve included some handy tips for using your slow cooker.
I hope you find their “Do’s and Don’ts” as helpful as I did. It seems there’s always an opportunity to learn something new.
And don’t miss the recipe for Easy Chicken and Dumplings. It sounded too delicious not to share with you.
Slow Cooker Do’s
- Season and sear your meat before adding it to the slow cooker. This extra step will add big flavor to your dish and a beautiful browned color.
- Use large fatty cuts of meat (no more than five pounds) in your slow cooker. The long cooking time will break down the meat, leaving you with moist and tender results.
- Always spray the insert with cooking spray before making candy in your slow cooker. Your cleanup time will be much faster.
- Brighten the flavor of your slow cooker meal by adding fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon juice toward the end of the cooking time.
Slow Cooker Don’ts
- Don’t fill your slow cooker more than two-thirds full. Overfilling results in longer cooking times and potentially messy overflows.
- Don’t combine the ingredients in your slow cooker insert and refrigerate overnight to save time. A cold slow cooker insert will take longer to heat up, ultimately affecting the cooking time and potentially the food’s safety.
- Don’t add extra liquid to your slow cooker recipe (unless directed); the meat and vegetables release water during cooking, creating a flavorful broth.
- Don’t remove the lid during cooking. Opening and closing the covered slow cooker increases your overall cooking time. However, removing the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking can help reduce excess liquid in the slow cooker.
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 (32-ounce) containers chicken broth
- ½ (32-ounce) package frozen dumplings, broken in thirds*
- 4 cups shredded Slow Cooker Chicken (recipe follows)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth; bring to a boil.
- 2. Add frozen dumplings in batches, stirring to keep dumplings from sticking to bottom of pan. Bring back to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until dumplings are tender, about 30 minutes. Add chicken, thyme, and parsley; cook 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.
- *We used Mary B’s brand frozen dumplings.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 small onions, peeled
- 2 (4-pound) whole chickens
- 1. In a small bowl, stir together oil, pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder; rub mixture over chickens. In the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker, place onions. Place chickens on onions.
- 2. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°.