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Slow Cooker

(58 Posts)
Welshy Sat 28-Nov-20 16:46:52

Well instead of buying my self a Soup Maker, I bought a Slow Cooker instead.
I have bought all the ingredients for a beef stew. I have read on a lot of recipes that they sear the beef first. I never did this when I used to make it in a large saucepan on the hob. Is it really necessary? Also have any of you cooked the stew on the high setting for about 4 hours instead of the 8 to 10 hours on low?
Any tips for a Slow Cooker novice greatly received smile

M0nica Sat 28-Nov-20 19:03:33

I am currently having the kitchen refitted and therefore my cooking is limited to what I can do with a microwave, slow cooker, kettle and toaster.

I have a very old slow cooker (30 years plus?). All the food has to go in hot and I have been putting all the ingredients into a container which goes into the microwave, gets heated until it is boiling then tipped into the slow cooker, no searing frying or anything like that. The dishes taste just the same is they do when I brown all the ingredients first.

As for cooking time and speed. I always cook on the higher of two heats available for me. I cook used to cook for 2 hours, but now do 4, as the meat then almost melts in the mouth.

Marydoll Sat 28-Nov-20 19:08:29

I sear all my meat before putting it into the slow cooker.
I usually start it off at high for a couple of hours, then turn it down to low.
Mine cost me £16 from Asda a few years ago and has been worth it's weight in gold.
I have thought about buying a Ninja, but can't really justify the expense to myself.

MiniMoon Sat 28-Nov-20 19:15:06

When did searing/sealing the meat become a thing? My mother never did it. I do, but not every time. If I'm making something in my slow cooker I don't bother. The meat is going to be well cooked, and you want the juices from the meat in the gravy.

Marydoll Sat 28-Nov-20 19:20:49

Searing the meat carmelises and browns the meat for a better flavour.
There is no rule that says you have to, but I find it enhances the taste and speeds up the cooking process.

It's a matter of personal choice and also how much time you have.

Jaxjacky Sat 28-Nov-20 19:35:13

As others have said, depends, for me, searing depends if I can be bothered to make a pan dirty or not. I love my slow cooker(s), have a small and v large, owned one for 30+ years. And yes, it’s quicker to cook if the contents are hot at the start, if I don’t ‘cook’ first, a spot of boiled liquid does it.

Callistemon Sat 28-Nov-20 20:28:45

If I'm cooking for other people I sear the meat first, if just for us, no.

Actually, I can't tell much difference.
I pour hot stock over the meat anyway.
Our slow cooker pot can go on the hob for seating, but I've never used it for that.

Callistemon Sat 28-Nov-20 20:30:04

Searing, not seating!!
I heat the stock in the microwave with the onions.

GrandmasueUK Sat 28-Nov-20 20:51:29

Marydoll I got the Ninja. I love it and use the pressure cooker and the air fryer so much. It also has a sauté function so you can use the same pot for stews and casseroles. The biggest drawback is the weight so mine is left out. You can also bake, roast and slow cook in it and cook from frozen.

I did get rid of my slow cooker. Our first slow cooker was huge, it was like a baby’s bath. I gave it to my Sister in law for her large family

Marydoll Sat 28-Nov-20 20:55:55

Grandmasue my daughter tested the Ninja for a customer research product and loved it so much that she went out and bought one for herself last week.

I did dither about buying one, but she said it would be too heavy for me to manage and having two lids would mean I had to find somewhere to store them. sad

Rosy2 Sat 28-Nov-20 20:58:29

I always sear the meat any meat first as to me it is ‘slimy’ if not. Do the same if making a stew in a pot. Fry off mince first if making a chilli etc. Perhaps it’s just me but much prefer the outcome.

Welshy Sat 28-Nov-20 21:07:54

Thank you all for your replies smile I think I may give the searing a miss.
That sounds a good idea to heat the stock & onions together in the microwave.
More questions .... Do you have to pre heat the slow cooker? Also how much liquid do you use?

Charleygirl5 Sat 28-Nov-20 21:38:19

I always sear but I do not preheat the slow cooker. I am rarely sure how much liquid to add.

Sallywally1 Sat 28-Nov-20 21:44:29

I am of the searing brigade! My late MIL introduced me to the slow cooker and I have had several since, of various sizes. My ideal would be to find one which is small enough for two,people, but which has a timer. Dream away!

Whatever your method, it is good little kitchen friend and I would not be without mine.

blondenana Sat 28-Nov-20 21:49:07

I have a slow cooker, and it is very slow,even on high,
I went back to using a large pan last week,i left it on low overnight last week and still wasn't cooked
It is a Morphy Richards
I have thought about getting an air fryer but my son had one and got rid of it
My daughter has just bought one, but i don't think she has used it yet

MissAdventure Sat 28-Nov-20 21:59:13

I'm no cook at all, so not sure if this will help or not.
I don't sear, do heat the cooker on high for half hour or so.
I put in veg first (I read somewhere that they take a little higher heat which is at the bottom.
Meat on top, then a really thick gravy, more like a sauce to cover it all, no more than 3 quarters full.
Turn it down low, go out to work, come home to dinner. smile

Callistemon Sat 28-Nov-20 22:30:20

My old slow cooker got slower and slower, blondenana; I could leave it on all day and the food still needed extra time on high.
I bought a new one about a year ago which is quite fast.

Pantglas2 Sun 29-Nov-20 06:56:19

I have two slow cookers, one in mi Casa, which is a metal casserole and hot plate, and t’other here in Wales has a metal innard.

Both allow me to sear the meat/onions which, as Marydoll and others say, caramelises and adds flavour, without the bother of using another pan.

I tend not to use a lot of liquid as a lot is released by the ingredients during the long cook - if it’s too thick, I add it before serving.

Shandy57 Sun 29-Nov-20 07:10:44

I used to love my slow cooker, marvellous to walk into the lovely smell of cooking. I recently found out you can cook a whole chicken in it, just place it on scrunched up balls of foil so the fat drips away.

M0nica Sun 29-Nov-20 09:23:21

I appreciate that searing caremalises the meat, which enhances the flavour of that piece of meat, but since most people makes stews and casseroles in a slow cooker, as soon as the water goes over the seared meat, all the caremalised deposit is dissolved into the gravy, which is where much of the flavour from the meat goes, seared or not seared.

Elusivebutterfly Sun 29-Nov-20 10:36:22

I never sear meat or onions to go in the slow cooker. I think it makes no difference to the taste and just means extra work and mess. Beef stew is delicious in the slow cooker, probably the best thing it does.

GrannyfromWilmslow Sun 29-Nov-20 10:51:03

I sear meat first, leave on high an hour then turn down. I have two slow cookers and one cooks much more quickly than the other so best to check from time to time. Don’t do what I did last week - made Moroccan chickpea soup and forgot to turn off before I went to bed. Result was chick pea stew which surprised me by being quite edible!

Callistemon Sun 29-Nov-20 10:55:16

I've posted this previously, but you can reheat a Christmas pudding in a slow cooker and that keeps a hob free, although I do use a tiered steamer for the vegetables. I'll probably do ours in the old, smaller slow cooker which is very slow.

geekesse Sun 29-Nov-20 11:12:17

Searing meat starts off the Maillard reaction. Amino acids and sugars are changed in a chemical reaction to give a rich, savoury flavour which ‘beefs up’ the stew. It isn’t essential but it does add to the taste of the final dish.

Ramblingrose22 Sun 29-Nov-20 11:20:23

Can a slow cooker make soup just as well as a soup maker, please?

I would have thought that a slow cooker makes the searing bit easier and you could make more soup because of the larger capacity, but that is just me guessing.