January 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm
by Jennifer Moncayo
During yesterday’s Facebook slow cooker chat with Michael Tyrrell, our slow cooker expert and associate food editor, you asked some really important food safety questions, including what’s the best way to use frozen meats in the crock-pot to advice on freezing and reheating slow cooker meals. Read on for these essential tips, and of course, tons of slow cooker recipe inspiration, from lasagna to tacos!
Family Circle: Welcome to our weekly Slow Cooker Chat with associate food editor and slow cooking expert, Michael Tyrrell. He’s here to answer all of your questions, share recipes and give great tips. Let’s start with: what did everyone make this weekend?
Kerrie: Pot Roast, Quinoa chicken, chili and lasagna! I don’t need to “cook” until Friday!
Michael: Kerrie — all sound good; tell us more about your quinoa chicken please.
Kerrie: 2 boneless chicken breasts, 2 cups of chicken broth, 2 cups of water, 6 carrots, 6 pieces of celery, 1 cup of quinoa, 3 tbs lemon juice, salt, pepper and dill. I haven’t tried it yet, it’s tonight’s dinner! The recipe said the quinoa and broth make creamy gravy when cooked on low for 8-10 hours. I prep all the veggies on the weekend and threw it in the crock-pot this a.m.
Michael: Kerrie — let us know next week how it turns out. I am curious about the quinoa going in at the beginning of cooking time. I guess it just breaks down and thickens things.
Rachel: Black eyed pea and barley salad!
Michael: Rachel — is the peas and barley then dressed and allowed to cool. Tell us more.
Rachel: It is a Deborah Madison recipe and tastes so fresh! It has a lime dressing and also included kidney beans and peppers along with the black eyed peas and barley. So great served cold and for lunch. I will be blogging about it next week for my company blog Oldways Table!
Michael: Rachel — thanks, I love Deborah Madison’ s book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
Leann: BBQ boneless pork ribs. They were delicious!
Michael: Leann — love me boneless ribs in the slow cooker. Let us link you some of our great pork shoulder recipes.
Susan: I had a turkey breast, but didn’t want to make a traditionally spiced turkey, so I cooked it in the crock-pot with garlic, onions, red chili flakes and lemon juice for about 5 hours. About an hour before dinner, shredded it and added barbecue sauce. We had pulled turkey on a bun. It was SO good!
Michael: Susan — sounds good, in our April issue I did a healthy slow cooker story and included an Indian spiced turkey breast. Look for the story early in March.
Family Circle: Susan, here’s the link to the healthy slow cooker recipes Michael referred to: Healthy Slow Cooker Meals.
Melissa: Can I do split chicken breasts in crock?
Michael: Melissa — yes but be sure you check for small bones in the sauce at the end if you use a long cooking time.
Leann: Melissa….yes! I use them as a starter for my chicken and dumplings.
Michael: Leann — chicken and dumplings are a great slow cooker meal.
Leann: Michael ….It is one of our favorite fall/winter meals! I have been experimenting with the dumplings.
Melissa: Should I add maybe some chicken broth?
Leann: Melissa — are you just cooking the split breast to serve as is or are you making a dish like soup were you would add broth later?
Michael: Melissa — yes add some broth, probably a cup would be enough.
Linda: If I am going to be cooking chicken stew all day (at least 10 hours), can I use frozen chicken breasts or do they have to be defrosted?
Michael: Linda — please thaw for safety, frozen stuff in the slow cooker stays at an unsafe temp too long
Linda: Thanks Michael.
Cheryl: So far I have tried 4 recipes and they were all bad. Can I get suggestions for some definite winners?? I got the recipes from a blog I will not name.
Family Circle: Hi Cheryl, check out the “Slow Cooker Chronicles” section of our blog for great beginner recipes.
Michael: Cheryl — don’t be discouraged, try some of our healthy slow cooker recipes. We’ll link you to a slideshow on our website.
Kate: I have heard of people making meals ahead of time and freezing them, then putting them right from the freezer to the slow cooker so it thaws and cooks. Is this safe or could you risk getting sick?
Michael: Kate — don’t do it. It’s a safety thing. If you freeze a slow cooker meal, thaw and microwave it to heat. That’s what I do
Jessica: I’m getting ready to throw some pork chops, cream of mushroom soup, and dry ranch mix. Hope it turns out good!!!
Michael: Jessica —pork is one of the best things to do in the slow cooker. Especially fattier cuts like country ribs and pork shoulder and butt.
Rachel: I am also looking for a good slow cooker refried bean recipe. I tried one recently and it was rather bland. Any recommendations?
Michael: Rachel — check out our Slow Cooker Chronicles on our blog. I don’t think we did refried beans but there are some good bean recipes posted by our web editors.
Rachel: Thanks Michael, I will!
Melissa: My favorite slow cooker recipe is SOOO simple…I call it Salsa Chicken, boneless skinless chicken and a can of your salsa of choice. Nothing else. Could not be more easy. I do not use frozen chicken, because I fear it won’t cook thoroughly. When it is done, I shred the chicken with a fork. It can be used as a topping on baked potatoes, in a tortilla for chicken tacos or over tortilla chips for chicken nachos.
Michael: Melissa — that’s what is so wonderful about slow cooking. There are a gazillion very easy recipes out there.
Leann: Michael, I have been hesitant to make lasagna in the slow cooker. I have several good recipes including some from FC, but I can’t get over the idea that the noodles will not be mushy. I have seen posts where they are and some where they are not. Any suggestions on how to ensure the noodles are not mushy?
Cheryl: Can I get the steps for cooking lasagna in the slow cooker?
Michael: Leann — please try one of our lasagna recipes. All are tested more than once by us in our test kitchen. All worked out fine. Let us know in a future chat what your result was.
Cheryl: Thanks, will check out the links.
Leann: If I get brave…..MAYBE! Just have had too many friends say their noodles were mushy!
Michael: Leann — the trick with lasagna in the slow cooker is to get the amount of liquid right. Like I said our recipes are tested thoroughly and we got it right
Leann: AAAHHHH HHHAAAA!!! I KNEW there had to be a secret! Thanks Michael!
Rhonda: Honey Lemon Chicken is wonderful in the slow cooker.
Michael: Rhonda — tell us more about the honey lemon chicken. Do you use thighs? Let us give you a link to a 5 ways with chicken thigh story we did in the fall.
Family Circle: Hi Rhonda, try one of these and let us know what you think!
Leann: Rhonda….would you share the Honey Lemon Chicken recipe?
Family Circle: What is your favorite meat to make in the Slow Cooker? Are you a fan of chicken, beef or pork? Or do you have another more unusual favorite? Ask for tips from our slow cooking expert and share your own recipes!
Ginette: Beef, hands down—so many possibilities, but old time favorite is stew.
Michael: Ginette — agreed, let us link you to a slideshow on our site of slow cooker soups and stews.
Family Circle: Ginette try these and let us know what you think!
Ginette: Thanks Family Circle… I am looking forward to trying those for sure, and adjusting my grocery list as I type… LOL.
Michael: Melissa — yep beef, especially chuck and the fattier cuts. We did a great story last fall— beef brisket 5 ways. We’ll give you the link to our site.
Family Circle: Hi Melissa, here’s the beef brisket Michael referred to: “Beef Brisket, 5 Ways.”
Melissa: Thank you.
Rosimeri: Beef pot roast.
Michael: Rosimeri — beef pot roast is probably one of the first things people think of when slow cookers come up. Let us link you to some of our fave pot roast recipes.
Family Circle: Rosimeri, here are some of our pot-roast faves: “Pot Roast, 5 Ways.”
Michael: Rhonda — check out the link we provided to Melissa for brisket.
Renee: Tri tip.
Michael: Renee — do you feel your finished product is still moist using tri tip?
Jennifer: Yes, yes and yes. Last night was meatloaf with potatoes.
Michael: Jennifer — I love meatloaf done in the slow cooker. I think the sandwiches the next day are the best part.
Jennifer: Our Family fave is pork loin chops with cream of Mushroom soup, onions and mushrooms. MMMMMM.
Michael: Jennifer — yep that works for me. For a change try boneless country ribs. They shred easily and that type of sauce would be great with rice or mashed potatoes.
Barbara: My favorite to make is meatballs so I will have to say ground beef. But we love pulled pork, too.
Michael: Barbara — meatballs work nicely in the slow cooker. I never brown them first— do you?
Tammy: My favorite is chili…yummy! Second would be ribs, let simmer in sauce for hours after BBQing them…mmm… Although, I made a roast chicken in my crock-pot yesterday and it was delish!
Family Circle: Tammy have you tried our chili?
Michael: Tammy and Lauren — chili especially with Super Bowl coming up is key. We just updated our chili slideshow on our site. We’ll give you the link. Try one of our chilis for a change.
Stephanie: My favorite crock-pot recipe is shredded mango chicken for mangos chicken tacos. Delicious and super easy!
Michael: Stephanie — do you use chicken thighs for you mango chicken tacos?
Debbie: I have just started using my crock-pot, so I am always looking for recipes. I just made a really good Chicken Salsa and Black Beans, but would love the recipe that Stephanie Potter was talking about — shredded mango chicken.
Michael: Stephanie — leave your recipe for Debbie and the rest of us on this thread even if the chat has ended. Thanks!
Ruth: What is the best cut of beef or pork to use in a two qt crock-pot and how long would you suggest to prepare it? I just got my first crock-pot last year and I LOVE it!!
Michael: Ruth — beef chuck and either pork shoulder. Cut up the meat like for a stew so it won’t be too much for your crock. Remember only fill half to two thirds full.
Leann: Beef Tips with gravy served over rice.
Michael: Leann — what cut of beef do you use? Do you thicken the sauce?
Leann: Michael….I usually use either stew meat or I cut up a chuck roast. I use 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, 1 package of beefy onion dry mix, 1/2 cup of water, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and one sliced onion. Mix well and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. No need to thicken gravy.
Sandra: It is not a meal but one of my favorite things to do is put boneless chicken breasts in the crock-pot with chicken broth to use in all those yummy Buffalo Chicken dip recipes that call for canned chicken and for casseroles, pot pies, etc. Saves me a lot of money and tastes better, too! I use my crock-pot for a lot of things! My goal is to be like my aunt, when she left for work each day she had 3 to 4 crock pots going with her main and sides so when she got done, dinner was ready or almost ready!
Jennifer: I love red beans, sausage & rice and beef pot roast made in the crock-pot.
Tasha: Moose… slow cooking takes all the gaminess out of it
Lynn: I use my slow cooker a lot and I’m always looking for new recipes!! But I’m kind of tired of roast and chili.
Mary: Mine is pork with potatoes and sauerkraut, also corned beef with sauerkraut
Carolyn: I love to take low costing meats that are supposedly too tough to eat and making them into very tender succulent meals. It can be done with any meat, in the crock-pot right now small pork roast with new potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, house smells great!!!!
Barbara: French dip sandwiches or pepperoncini beef sandwiches. Always great!!!
Tiffany: Roast beef. Then we shred it and make enchiladas. Or we add potatoes and carrots and have a stew.
Family Circle: Thanks for joining our weekly Slow Cooker Chat, everyone! Come back again next week at 1pm EST on Wednesday to talk more with our associate food editor and slow cooking expert Michael Tyrrell and share your recipes!
Join us on our Facebook page next Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET for another slow cooker chat.
Check out these links for more slow cooker recipes: