Slow Cooker Casserole Tips to Rock Crocktober
Casseroles are among some of the tastiest and easiest dishes you can prepare in your slow cooker. Whether you're aching for a crunchy chicken casserole or you're trying out a vegetable-based dish with a variety of greens, using your slow cooker ensures a hot, complete meal at the end of any day.
As you're putting your culinary skills to good use this Crocktober, be sure to keep the following tips in mind when cooking casseroles.
1. Know Which Ingredients to Prepare Beforehand
The glory of a slow cooker is that you can add all of your ingredients in one dish and let it cook throughout the day. However, for optimal taste, The Kitchn recommended cooking certain foods beforehand. While most vegetables do not need to be precooked, onions and garlic may taste much better if sautéed on the stove before adding them to your dish. This may improve both the texture and quality of these ingredients.
2. Learn How to Layer
When it comes to cooking casserole in the slow cooker, it's important to add your ingredients with care. Food Network noted that vegetables that tend to cook more slowly, such as potatoes and carrots, should be placed at the bottom, while meats and prepared ingredients can be toward the top. If your casserole requires any kind of dairy product - such as milk or whipping cream - it's imperative to add that last. The Food Network recommends stirring in dairy within the last 15 minutes of the cooking cycle, as these products break down quickly in the slow cooker. The same goes with herbs and spices - don't dress your dish until it's almost done cooking, as seasoning toward the end yields the best results.
3. Monitor Your Meal with Care
Opening the lid to your slow cooker while your casserole is cooking may not only alter its taste, but also add more time to the process. Opening the slow cooker allows heat to escape, meaning your dish will need to go through the heating process again. If your casserole generally takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to cook in a conventional oven, it should be left in the slow cooker for 5 to 7 hours on low. BBC Good Food noted that if your recipe calls for 1 to 2 hours, it should be left for 6 to 8 hours on low.