Holiday Dinner


A Slow-Cooker Can Speed Up A Thanksgiving Meal Your best helper for the big Thanksgiving Day meal may be your overlooked slow-cooker (you may know it as a Crock Pot).
Mashed potatoes can be fixed ahead and refrigerated. Then, on the day you serve them, put them in the slow-cooker on low for about three hours before you plan to serve dinner. They will stay hot until you're ready with the rest of the meal.
If you put extra stuffing in the slow-cooker when you put the turkey in the oven, it will be ready when the turkey's done.
Carrots with orange juice, Brussels sprouts with lemon wedges, creamed onions with peanuts, a corn casserole - all are candidates to be prepared in the slow-cooker, freeing the stove top and oven for the main course.
Such side dishes could also easily be assigned to family members to bring from home in their own slow-cookers.
One advantage of the cooker is that if you are delayed or the rest of the meal is not ready, an hour of extra cooking time won't make much difference in most recipes cooking on low.
Also, the food will stay warm longer when on a buffet table in a cooker.
There are two temperature levels on most slow-cookers -low (200 degrees) and high (300 degrees). When you leave a cooker unattended, it's best to have It on low. Some recipes start out on high for one hour and then are turned to low. If you are at home and everyone is eager for dinner, turn the control to high for the last hour or two of cooking.
As long as the cooker is plugged in and cooking, the food in it should be at a safe temperature. Do not put frozen foods in a slow-cooker; thaw them first. The outside surface of frozen food heats quickly, but the inside takes much longer to rise to a safe temperature, increasing the chances of bacterial growth.
You will notice more liquid in the pot at the end of cooking than with traditional cooking methods. With a lower cooking temperature, liquids do not boil away; vegetables and meats are not likely to dry out.
Turn the cooking liquid into sauce or gravy by reducing it on top of the stove and thickening it with a roux of flour and butter. Use 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for every 2 cups of liquid.
To make the roux melt the butter in a small pan, add the flour and heat, stirring, until it smells nutty and cooked. Then add liquid and any seasonings and stir until thickened.
A thin coat of nonstick cooking spray on the bottom and sides of the cooker will speed cleanup.
Cut root vegetables the right size; big pieces of vegetables do not cook as fast as meats at slowcooker temperatures. Slices should be no more than 3/4- to 1-inch thick.




4.0 servings


Friday, February 12, 2010 - 2:03pm



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