The Crazy Suburban Mom: I knew I was hot, I just knew it....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I knew I was hot, I just knew it....

Yeah, all this time I thought I was imagining it, but I found proof.  Oh, this is about slow-cookers by the way, I'm not hot at all... Believe me.  I'm sitting here wearing inside out pajama bottoms and a Cape May t-shirt (and not one from this year.  Or last.)  I'm a serious mess.  My dinner last night was however not a mess.


And very hot.

(read on)

So.  The slow cooker thing.  I try to use mine because in theory I love it. What's not to love?  The recipes are simple and even the one's that aren't technically simple from beginning to end are only involved in the prep.   But I've not had a lot of success when I take off the lid at the end.  Over the last few years EVERYTHING I've done has been lacking.  The meat's not right; not the way crock pot meat's supposed to be anyway.  You know, juicy...  succulent.

Even if I follow the directions the meat is usually dry and tough (despite sitting in liquid and c'mon tough, wet meat is not appealing and somewhat grosser than just garden-variety dry meat, trust me.) The veggies are mushy and there are these liquid issues.   Sometimes there's too little; other times too much.  I've found calculating liquid very difficult.

The last two things that I normally crock (corned beef and cabbage and pot roast)  - and than blame myself (not the slow-cooker) for the disappointingly underwhelming results - I decided to slow cook in the oven instead with - OMG! - great results.  (And if you just followed that fa-la-la of punctuation Kudos! to you and I'm impressed!)  Don't know why I tried the old oven; think I was just tired of waiting 8 hours and getting a dinner that everyone would gag down once - To be polite - but couldn't face as leftovers.  I'm not cruel, the meat was tough the first time but reheated it was like meat-flavored painter's tarp.

I started searching what I thought was the problem - the temperatures on new crocks and found an article in The Washington Post by Candy Sagon citing research on slow cooker temperatures:

" low settings on newer cookers reach 185 to 200 degrees, while the high setting heats at 250 to 300 degrees. Settings on older machines generally are 15 to 20 degrees lower, and the machines heat up more slowly"

My guess is that's an average. All of the three crocks I purchased in the last six or so years and  attempted to produce delicious food ( mostly on low)  produced  routinely distressing results.... Main dishes that felt like you were chewing on, okay.... Here's the deal.  When I get marshmallow Peeps... I like them stale.  I open the package and leave them out about a month.  That's the way I like my Peeps.  I don't enjoy that same feeling of biting into a stale Peep when I bite into pot roast - So sue me.

Yet, putting the food in the oven at 200 degrees F to 250 degrees F produced delicious juicy food twice already.  Which makes me think the slow cookers were cooking much higher; I've seen them boiling on low.  Boiling!  Not a rolling throw in the pasta boil but....close.   This was not a slow crock pot simmer and this was on low.

Last night was my second test.  Pot roast...   In a dutch oven I took a cheap cut of  chuck, something like that.  I don't remember because I didn't know it was going to turn out.  It was about $6 for a large hunk of an amount and it wasn't on sale. So big, ya know

Salt and pepper and  browned on all sided in canola

 I set that aside and browned the veggies (just to brown, not cook)  I had laying around:

a large onion quartered
two large carrots large chop
about 8 large mushrooms

Took that out and set it aside

Drained a large can white potatoes and browned that in same pan

Poured in a can of beef consomm√© to deglaze the pan and than put everything back in.  Topped with a few green onions.  Cover top with aluminum foil and than dutch oven lid for a good seal, and put it in a 250 degree F oven for somewhere between 6 and 8 hours ...about.  I wasn't really counting and like cooking in a slow cooking eh, doesn't matter all that much.


This came out really amazing and it was very simple.

This is what a crock pot dish is supposed to be.  It must be a temperature issue and I think I may have to start doing my crocking in the oven.

And really paying attention to what I'm doing, I would so make this again....


Vintage Christine 3/3/10, 8:32 AM  

When I crock, I always put it on High for an hour and then put it on Low for the rest of the time. The meat and veggies have always come out great--the meat's tender, the veggies are cooked but not mushy. There's nothing like walking into the house after the crockpots been going all day and smelling that wonderful aroma! I just might crock tonight. thanks for the inspiration!

The Crazy Suburban Mom 3/3/10, 9:07 AM  

Christine - I think the problem is my crockpot. Well, all the crockpots Ive had. Ive thought about going out and buying an old one at an estate sale and just using that but I think the method just works as well in my oven... Since I've already spent so much money trying to find one that works for me.

I know it's a temp. issue... Food safety. Ect. But I can't seem to resolve it so Im just moving on down the road - um, I mean moving to my oven. The recipes dont seem to change... and actually it saves space because its one less appliance

Maureen 3/3/10, 12:21 PM  

Hmmmm.....good info. Over time I have tried different crock pots 'cuz hell what could be easier than throwing everything in one pot but like you I'm never been happy with the results. I think you're really onto something. I bought a dutch oven last fall and have liked the results. I officially nominate you for Hot Tip Queen for the Day!

Lin 3/3/10, 4:21 PM  

I turn it high at first and then do the rest on low--turning the contents periodically. Usually I do this method because I forget to get it started early enough, but maybe that's the best way to get the meat tender. I don't know--I'm an awful cook.

J Sedai 3/3/10, 6:54 PM  

I've never had an issue with my crock pots, but I also do a fair amount of cooking in my dutch oven or pressure cooker. I'm glad you found a way to enjoy slow cooking tho! and it sounds YUM!

Waterrose 3/3/10, 7:04 PM  

I have an older crockpot, from the 70s (yep my first and only one) and it seems to work the way they are suppose to. Thankfully. Oh, and I love my peeps the same way....people think I'm nuts.

Sheila Sultani 3/3/10, 8:39 PM  

I have to adjust time and temp in my oven because it never works at the time and temp it should - probably the same with your crock pot.

Your dinner looked yummy!

laurie @ bargain hunting 3/3/10, 8:59 PM  

Oh my mouth is watering! That looks so delicious! Thanks for telling how you made it. I love using crock pots and haven't had any trouble with mine, but this looks so good, I may be doing it in the oven next time. laurie

Mama Geek 3/4/10, 7:27 AM  

Oh man, that looks good. My dad bought me a gorgeous cast iron dutch oven, but I haven't had the chance to use it. This looks like a fantastic excuse.

MtnGrl 3/4/10, 11:25 AM  

Good to know! I bought a new-school crock pot, mostly because it's wide rather than tall, and easier to root around in. Nothing I've made in it has been as succulent as stuff made in my old-school one (which, fortunately, I still have)--except for a pork tenderloin recipe that called for red wine. (and what *doesn't* red wine make better?)

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