The Tesco crockpot or slow cooker is one of the best time saving appliances in the kitchen. Unfortunately the Tescos slow cooker doesn’t come with any cooking instructions. I hope this guide and its links help! It’s great for beginning cooks because all you have to do is fill it and turn it on. Hours later, you come home to a house filled with wonderful smells and dinner ready for the table. Here’s how to use a Tesco slow cooker / crockpot: Crockpot 101.
Purchasing and Safety
When purchasing a Tesco slow cooker / crockpot, look for one with a removable liner. They are much easier to clean. If you have a nonremovable liner, however, all is not lost! Line your crockpot with a cooking bag and you’ll have no cleanup at all. Spray the inside of the liner with cooking spray before you fill it to make cleanup easier.
140 degrees F is the temperature the food needs to reach as quickly as possible. If you are at home during the cooking times, test the food temperature after four hours of cooking on LOW – the temp should be at least 140 degrees. If it isn’t, there’s a problem with your crockpot and you should get a new one.
For food safety reasons, it’s a good idea to cook on HIGH for the first hour to quickly bring the temperature up to 140 degrees. Then turn the dial to LOW and finish cooking.
The LOW setting is about 200 degrees, and the HIGH setting is about 300 degrees. Note that both of these temps are well above the minimum safe temperature of 140 degrees.
Experts recommend you do not put frozen foods in the crockpot. All foods should be defrosted before cooking so the food temperature can reach 140 degrees as soon as possible. However, since none of my family members are in a high-risk group, I often cook frozen foods in the crockpot. The informed choice is up to you.
One hour on HIGH is equal to two hours on LOW.
Remove cooked food from the crockpot or liner before you refrigerate the cooked food. Because the liner is made of such thick material, the food won’t cool down quickly enough to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Tesco Slow Cooker / Crockpot General Cooking Tips
Only fill the crockpot one half to two thirds full. The foods will not cook properly if the appliance is filled to the brim. If the food and liquid level is lower, the foods will cook too quickly.
Foods cooked on the bottom of the slow cooker cook faster and will be moister because they are immersed in the simmering liquid.
Remove skin from poultry, and trim excess fat from meats. Fats will melt with long cooking times, and will add an unpleasant texture to the finished dish. Fatty foods will also cook too quickly.
You can thicken the juices and concentrate flavors by removing the lid and cooking on HIGH for the last half hour of cooking time.
Most meats require 8 hours of cooking on LOW. Use cheaper cuts of meat – not only do you save money, but these meats work better in the slow cooker. Cheaper cuts of meat have less fat, which makes them more suited to crockpot cooking. Moist, long cooking times result in very tender meats.
Follow the layering instructions carefully. Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat, so they should be placed in the bottom of the appliance.
Don’t lift the lid to stir, especially if you are cooking on the low setting. Each time you lift the lid, enough heat will escape that the cooking time should be extended by 20 minutes to half an hour. To check progress without lifting the lid, spin the cover until the condensation falls off. Then it’s easy to see inside.
Specific Crock Pot Cooking Tips
For best results, ground meats must be cooked in a skillet before cooking in the crockpot.
Seafood should be added during the last hour of cooking time, or it will overcook and have a rubbery texture.
Large pieces of meat can be browned before cooking in the crockpot, but this step isn’t necessary. Browning adds color and helps in flavor development.
Cayenne pepper and tabasco sauce tend to become bitter if cooked for long periods of time. Use small amounts and add toward the end of the cooking time.
Add tender vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini during the last 45 minutes of cooking time so they don’t overcook.
Dairy products should be added during the last 30 minutes of cooking time, unless the recipes states otherwise.
Liquids do not boil away in the crockpot, so if you are making a recipe that wasn’t specifically developed for the crockpot, reduce the liquid by 1/3 to 1/2 unless you are cooking rice or making soup.
Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavor if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for the long cooking period.
How to Convert Recipes : Crockpot 102.
Many recipes can be converted to cooking in the crockpot. Soups and stews, of course, are natural slowcooker favorites. Casseroles and most meats benefit from the low temperatures and even cooking heat.
Reduce the amount of liquid a recipe calls for, since liquids do not evaporate during crockpot cooking. However, if you are cooking rice, beans, or pasta, don’t reduce the liquid called for. You generally need twice as much liquid as product to cook these ingredients. Here are basic conversion times:
If conventional time is: 15 to 30 minutes, then cooking time on low should be 4 to 6 hours.
If conventional time is 35 to 45 minutes, cooking time on low should be 6 to 8 hours.
If conventional time is 50 minutes to 3 hours, cooking time on low should be 8 to 16 hours.
I generally prefer cooking most raw meat and vegetable combinations at least 8 hours on LOW. This gives the vegetables time to soften, the meat time to tenderize and all the flavors to blend.
Of course, the new hotter cooking crockpots change the rules. If you have a crockpot that is less than five years old, you’ll probably need to reduce the cooking time. In fact, some of the newer recipes I’ve seen in magazines cook the food for only 3-4 hours on low. That’s not really ‘slow cooking’, but it’s the reality of the crockpot manufacturing today. Check the food at four hours on low, using an instant read meat thermometer to see if the food is done.
Surprisingly, vegetables cook more slowly than meats in the moist heat of the slow cooker. So vegetables should be cut or chopped roughly the same size and placed in the bottom of the crockpot.
Browning meats helps reduce the fat content in large cuts of meat like roasts. It also caramelizes the sugars in the meat, adding to appearance and flavor.
Trim off any visible fat from cuts of meat. Fat will make the dishes cook faster.
Find more slow ccoker info on the Busy Cooks website for your Tesco slow cooker.