• Uncategorised

​10 ways to get more flavour out of your slow cooker

The beloved gadget of many a household, slow cookers are adored for their convenience and ease of use. But sometimes after all that cooking, the end result can be a watery failure.
Follow our guide to extracting maximum flavour out of your crockpot and wave goodbye to those hot messes…

1. Add some colour

Whilst the crockpot is celebrated for its ‘chuck everything in at once’ handiness, this method will never yield the intensity that is characteristic of a truly great casserole.

If you have time, browning your meat and veg in a frying pan beforehand will elevate your stew from ok to awesome.

2. Get thrifty You may shudder at the thought of fat and sinew on meat, but this combo present in cheaper cuts is transformed when slow-cooked, especially if you’ve taken the time to brown the joint beforehand.

The gelatine released as the sinew breaks down during the long cooking time enriches and thickens the cooking liquid too. MORE: 12 THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T PUT IN YOUR SLOW COOKER

3. Take stock of your stock

It’s all too common to open your crockpot after eight hours of cooking, and stare into a pan of insipid, soupy disappointment. This is because lids of slow cookers are more efficient than conventional casserole dishes at trapping steam in, so liquid doesn’t reduce naturally. Halving the amount of liquid added at the beginning will help to concentrate the flavours.


Feel the strain If you do find yourself with too much cooking liquid at the end, don’t suffer through its blandness. Pour the stew through a colander into a wide pan (reserving all the meat and veg) and bubble the juices over a high heat, sampling every so often until the taste is intense as you desire.


Reduce your booze Don’t be tempted to add a glug of wine straight into your slow cooker – the alcohol will never burn off, and your resulting meal will be more unpleasant for it. Pour it into a separate pan first, boil it until the liquid volume reduces by half, and then add it in.


Spice up your life Dry, fragrant spices like cumin and coriander seeds need to be fried in oil and added at the beginning of the recipe as they take time to impart their essence. Hot chilli-based flavourings should be added to taste at the end, as the fire can multiply the over the long cooking time.


Herb’s the word Like spices, there are two rules to achieve the utmost flavour extraction here – dried or woody herbs (like rosemary and thyme) go in at the beginning so that they can soften and release their stored up fragrance and oils. Soft fresh herbs like basil and coriander – whose delicate aromas would be destroyed after hours of cooking – are added right before serving.


8. The fifth element Umami-packed condiments are the slow-cookers best friend.

A glug of Worcestershire sauce adds clout to a beef carbonnade, soy intensifies tomato dishes, and liquid smoke gives layers of depth with a simple shake of the bottle.

9. Be sweet Sugar enhances savoury food and adds the final dimension that is often missing.

A small amount of brown sugar, honey, chutney or marmalade balances out the flavours and complements both meat and veggie recipes.

10. It’s all in the timing Like a well-rehearsed orchestra, adding different ingredients in at their right moments will make your stew a perfect symphony rather than a pulpy cacophony.

Browned meat and large chunks of root veg go in first, softer veg and carbs in last (or on the side).


Like this?

Subscribe to the Good Housekeeping newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.