Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Help! My Crock-Pot cooks too fast!



I've gotten quite a few emails lately asking what to do about a hot
crock, or a crockpot that cooks too quickly, and burns or dries out

ick. I hate that.

First off, I'm sorry. So sorry.

There is nothing more defeating than thinking you have dinner all ready
to go and come home to a gross dried-out or charred mess. I'm really

But, hopefully this will help, just a bit.

1) Make sure you are using the right size crockpot. A slow cooker needs
to be quite full in order to heat evenly and cook properly. I have only
used the brand name Crock-Pot slow cookers, and I'm thrilled that they
come in such a variety of sizes. I realize that storage space is at a
premium, but consider getting a smaller crockpot if you find that you
aren't filling your crock at LEAST 2/3 of the way full each time you
use it.

This goes against the bigger-is-better American mentality. I know. I'm sorry.

2) Start easy. Don't try out a pasta dish or a rice dish, or bleu
cheese and steak roll-ups for one of your first crockpot cooking
adventures. The reason they come with a little book full of stews and
soups is because they are easy and somewhat full-proof.


taco soup

beef stew

minestrone soup

lazy chicken

cream cheese chicken

white chili

enchilada casserole

sausage and vegetables

marinated meat

3) Cook for the shortest and lowest cooking time if you are going to be out of
the house.


I know, it doesn't make sense.

If you are going to be out of the house for 10 hours, and the cooking
time says 6-8 hours, don't set it for 10. Set it for 6, and then let it
stay on warm for the rest of the time you're going to be out of the
house. Worst case, the meal isn't quite done and you flip it to high
while you change your clothes and set the table.

The cooking time is a range. You have to get a feel of your crockpot
(which is why you should start with the easy ones, first) and figure
out due to your altitude, humidity, etc. how long things will take.

You will get a feel, I promise. I'm a complete dunder-head when it
comes to cooking, yet I can crockpot. You can, too. I promise.

4) But my crockpot doesn't switch to warm! If you don't have one of the
newer "smart" pots, and you plan on being out of the house for a long
period of time, you should really invest in one. I got my 6-quart
Crock-Pot Smart Pot for $29 at Target, and I've heard from readers that
they have been able to score them for *quite* cheap at garage sales or
on Craigslist.

Please read this story that was sent to me earlier in the year.

5) I've done all that and it's still way too hot and it's making my
countertop hot, and I think there's something wrong with it. Don't use
it. Call the manufacturer. Talk to the experts. I'm a mom who drinks
too much coffee and wears slippers all day. I can't fix it. I wish I
could. I'm sorry.

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