How to Successfully Slow-Cook

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Magazine, December 21st, 2011

The slow cooker is our friend in the test kitchen, and we’ve discovered some helpful tips to create the perfect dish every time:

1.    Pick the Right Cut of Meat: Use cuts of meat that are best for slow braising, like pork shoulder, and try to avoid leaner cuts, like pork tenderloin, that don’t hold up as well.

2.    Spend Some Time Up Front: All you need is 30 minutes or less to brown your meat. Make a quick pan sauce or reduce wine before adding to your slow cooker — it makes a big difference in flavor.

3.    Choose Your Alliums Wisely: Onion, garlic and shallot all belong to the same genus and when they’re added raw to a slow cooker, sometimes they create a metallically after-taste. We prefer to use leeks (also in same genus), which are milder. We also love to toast thinly sliced garlic in butter or oil and stir in at the end (like in Food Network Magazine’s Vegetable and Lentil Slow Cooker Soup, pictured above).

4.    Quick Add-Ins: Adding freshly-chopped herbs or hot sauce at the end can really brighten up your dish.

5.    Think Beyond Beef Stew: Your slow cooker is capable of more than braised main dishes. We all love this simple and delicious Cranberry-Cornmeal Cake.

Cranberry-Cornmeal Slow-Cooker Cake
Spray a 5-quart slow cooker insert with pan release; line bottom with aluminum foil and spray again. Combine 1/2 stick melted butter and 1 cup brown sugar; spread over foil.  Combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, 2/3 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon each baking powder, salt and orange zest.  Whisk together 2 eggs, 1/2 stick melted butter, 2 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Fold wet into dry ingredients until combined; evenly spread over sugar mixture.  Sprinkle with 1 cup cranberries (thawed if frozen).  Drape a double length of paper towel over insert opening.  Cover and cook on low until set, about 3 hours.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.

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Comments (49)

  1. Sue in Fl says:

    I agree need more shows that have tips and ideas for us to make great meals!! Love Ina and Anne as they break steps down for us home cooks

  2. GG from Holland, Mi says:

    I enjoy Diners, Drive Ins and Dives but I agree that the network is way, way overdoing all of the challange type shows. They need to get back to the basics, which are cooking shows. I think they started to waver when they got rid of Emeril and started do too many shows with Rachael R. They find a superstar and then they over-expose that person. They are doing the same thing now with Guy G. And what is with doing all of the same shows back to back to back, etc., etc.. on weekends? Laziness? Cost savings? Don't they value the weekend watchers? I have found myself watching less and less of the Food Network over the last couple of years as the content has gone down in quality.

  3. Reena says:

    I enjoy all of the Food Network Shows, however a better mix of them all would be great. The back to back to back shows are very tiring to watch. Bring back some of the old and mix with the new and you will have a great Network!!!

  4. Reilly says:

    I have been a long time fan of Food Network because of the recipes and how to shows. I am also very tired of all the challenge shows and the back to back line-ups of the same shows that repeat later the same day….yikes! I love Ina, Giada, Tyler, Sara Moulton, Rachel, and Paula. I do agree that all the Rachel shows are a bit OTT (over the top)! Shows that the average person can learn from and then obtain the recipe is how you started and grew….are you getting more market share now or less??? I don't really care what the best thing a Chef ever tasted, especially if you don't teach us how to make it! Too many of the: it was the best thing (Chef) ever ate, the hottest thing, the most unusual and/or grossest, how much I can over eat (yuck!). Now you have Chopped, Kitchen Stadium, Throwdown etc. etc… I don't want to watch all the Chef's enjoying their vacations and getting paid for it either! Get back to basics…we are your fans, and if all of these comments are a sampling of what we feel maybe you should listen. I really don't appreciate Bitchin Kitchen…who are you marketing to with that show???? Food Network used to be a network you could always turn to and not worry that you would see or hear something inappropriate…who is making these decisions? Is this the direction you really want to go?

  5. S. Michaels says:

    ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH PREVIOUS REVIEWERS–where have all the GREAT cooking shows gone–making way for the game shows, etc.–YUCK!! WE WANT RECIPE SHOWS!!! Show us Rachael, Guy F., Jaime O, etc.

  6. Nana says:

    Please get rid of Paula Deen!!!! I agree that you need new shows. I too, am tired of Diners and Dives and I am tired of Giada!!!

  7. Replace Diners and Dives, and cooking competition shows with good instructional shows like Ina , Tyler, Rachael, Alton, etc. Lets have a show with healthy recipes – less sugar and fat.

  8. Sandra says:

    I absloutely love the FoodNetwork. I am always satisfied with the programming. I would love to see more of some of the low key chefs such as the Pioneer Woman, Simply Deliciousos, 5 ingredients just to name a few. I enjoy the competitions shows the what chefs like to eat shows – all of it!!!!

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