Many people have crock pots but rarely use them. Although they are designed to slow cook entire entrees, many will mainly utilize the crock pots portability. Crock pots often show up at parties as counter top food warmers. Yet there are many uses for the crock pot, including the ability to prepare delicious meals just like traditional stove top cooking.
Crock Pot Basics In Comparison to Stove Top Cooking
A crock pot is a a portable electrical powered pot that slow cooks food items. It can sit on a counter top and uses the method know as moist cooking or simmering as a means for cooking food. It is a glazed pot, usually formed in a oval shape, and is approximately 8 to 10 inches deep. A transparent lid is made to fit snuggly to the top, and when this lid is sealed and closed by attached clamps the trapped heat creates the pressure and temperature consistency for food preparation. By comparison, a stove top can be powered by gas, electricity or wood and is not portable. Because of the temperature intensity achieved on a stove top, it can cook at a wide variety of temperatures. More often than not, the stove top is used for quick and hot preparation of food.
Crock Pot Advantages
Many call the crock pot the lazy cook's friend. This is because of the slow cooking ability of the pot. This process allows for a cook to place many items in the pot, such as those necessary for a stew, set the temperature and timing and walk away for many hours. Leaving the crock pot unattended is a major advantage for busy cooks who may need to have their oven and stove top free for other recipes or for those that simply have no time to watch over a cooking meal. It is possible to burn food left too long in a crock pot, but with temperatures ranging from approximately 170 to 200 degrees, this is unlikely. These low temperatures are similar to an oven's warming temperatures. Stove top coils can heat on high to an excess of 500 degrees, meaning that a meal must be watched and adjusted often.
Stove Top Advantages
With a stove top, a cook can monitor the doneness of the meal without major disruption of the cooking process. With a crock pot, the temperatures are low and must remain consistent for success. Opening the sealed lid to check food will make the process will take longer as heat escapes. This makes the stove top an advantageous option in many cases. Taking the lid off a roasting post on a stove top coil will not lose as much heat because the coil can be quickly turned back up. If you are an involved cook and you like to add spices or ingredients as you work on a dish, the stove top allows you to do this. While possible with the crock pot, it is recommended that all items are added upfront and the meal left to cook on its own.
Crockpot Conversion Times
Many people believe that food cooked in a crock pot is more moist and consistently cooked from inside to surface than with a stove top. This has a lot to do with the moist method of simmering and it is certainly a benefit. It is thought that seasonings and flavors are more prominent in crock pot cooked food because of the sealed process. However, many are unfamiliar with how to convert their standard stove top cooking to crock pot times and are fearful of wasting or undercooking food. In general for every 15 to 30 minutes of stove top time, food should be cooked in a crock pot for an hour and a half to two and a half hours on low and four to eight hours on high. Most crock pots come with extensive recipe books that offer clear cooking times so you will not have to figure out recipes on your own.
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