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Avoid The Mistake Of Cooking With Too Much Alcohol In A Slow Cooker

Wine and slow-cooked beef stew
Wine and slow-cooked beef stew - saranya33/Shutterstock

Combine all your ingredients in a pot, turn it on and wait, and soon you magically have a gorgeously warm pot roast. That's the beauty of making a meal in a slow cooker, and for many chefs, it's the main pull of buying one of these gadgets in the first place. Convenience aside, this tool also helps make for especially cohesive recipes and ensures mouthwateringly tender and flavorful cuts of meat, as its longer cook times and signature steamy environment give your ingredients plenty of time to soak up the flavor.

While there's a lot to love about slow cooker recipes, it does come with its own set of drawbacks. The longer cooking times mean lower temperatures are required for slow cooker recipes, and no boiling process can happen. So, for recipes that use alcoholic ingredients, it's important to avoid over-pouring, as the alcohol will not burn off in the pot like it would in other cooking vessels. A slow cooker's lid will trap in that condensed alcohol and simply drop it back into the pot. This could bring an unsavory alcoholic bite to your recipe instead of a subtle splash if you're not careful.

It's especially important to remember this phenomenon when swapping out another cooking vessel in a recipe for a slow cooker, but it applies to any slow cooker recipe too. Luckily for those who are wary of unbalanced flavors, there's an easy way you can avoid an excess of alcohol so fear is off the table.

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How To Prevent Alcohol From Ruining Your Recipe

A slow cooker
A slow cooker - sherwood/Shutterstock

Whether you're cooking with wine, spirits, or beer in your slow cooker, avoid any unexpectedly alcoholic flavor by adding a simple additional step in your cooking process. Before adding your ingredients to your slow cooker, brown your meat in a pan first, and use the alcohol from your recipe to deglaze it. Afterward, you can add your ingredients to your slow cooker as normal.

Reducing the alcohol in this way helps burn off those intense alcoholic elements while still holding onto the benefits the beverage's flavor, so you can smash that kitchen anxiety while still using all the proper ingredients. While this method might mean a few extra steps and an extra dish to wash, it will alleviate any stress you might have about any unbalanced tastes.

Searing meat is not an essential part of every slow cooker recipe, but many people still swear by it. Following this extra step also makes for added flavor as you caramelize the meat prior to the simmering process, which helps the proteins retain and release their juicy flavor. So, to sear or not to sear, the choice is up to you, but we'd argue that the peace of mind and added flavor is worth it.

Other Slow Cooker Mistakes To Avoid

Beef stew
Beef stew - Foodio/Shutterstock

From tender slow-cooker carnitas to hearty one-pot casseroles, there are a lot of recipes to make with a slow cooker. Still, every meal comes with its own set of stipulations, so to further avoid a culinary disaster, there are a few more slow cooker mistakes you should remember to avoid.

For starters, just like with alcohol, fat will not fall off of meat in a slow cooker, so you should always trim the fat off your protein before cooking. Next, never overcrowd your slow cooker with too many ingredients. For the best results, your cooker should be at maximum 2/3 of the way full. Since most slow cookers are designed to hold no more than this amount, it will prevent you from having to adjust the cooking time or risk your mixture bubbling over and spoiling.

Lastly, a slow cooker is one of the few cooking vessels you should rarely lift the lid on to stir. You may feel tempted to sneak a peek at your creation while it simmers, but the steam in a slow cooker is a big part of what makes those recipes so flavorful, so make things easy on yourself and resist the urge. Now hopefully, with all these tips in mind, your slow cooker recipe will truly start to sing.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.