When I first began using my slow cooker, I mostly opened packages and cans, dumped them in, and turned it on. The result was less than tasty but after a long day at work, my husband and I were happy to come home to a warm meal. It didn’t taste great and was super salty but at that time, my cooking skills were practically non-existent and I didn’t know any better – or care.
Over the years, I have tried to improve the result of what was coming out of my slow cooker. Now my slow cooker gets used weekly – but mostly for cooking dried beans. When I do use the slow cooker for cooking meat, I pan sear the meat, first, before placing it in the slow cooker.
I resisted pan searing my cuts of meat, first, because I’m lazy and didn’t feel like cleaning one more pan – especially since I was already using the slow cooker. Meats can really be flavor-less when cooked in a slow cooker. Somehow they’re flavor-less and dried out – even when they’re cooked in liquid.
Recently I was teaching my kids how to make this recipe and I said, “We don’t have time to pan sear. We’ll skip that step.” Even they busted me! “But, Mom, you have to pan sear it! Remember, you just taught us to never skip that step.”
Darn those little foodies! Of course they’re right. It tastes so much better.
Searing the meat first locks in the flavor! I have no idea about the science behind it – and there’s always science with cooking – but don’t skip this step. Your foodies will thank you.
Be sure and wear an apron, too. You’ll be glad you did.
Pan Sear First When Using Slow Cooker
- Cut the meat – whatever you’re using – chicken, beef, or pork – into large chunks or cubes. Don’t make them too small. Too much work for the cook!
- Using your fingers to grab, sprinkle meat with salt, pepper, and I like to use Tony’s Lite Seasoning.
- Warm a pan on the stove – I use cast iron for this job. It retains heat and is easy to clean.
- Add oil (canola or olive works) to cover the bottom and get the pan smoking hot.
- Place meat in pan and sear it for several minutes.
- Using tongs, turn meat so that every side gets seared or browned.
- Now you can place the meat into the slow cooker and add your other ingredients.
Using a slow cooker doesn’t mean meats will come out flavor-less and dry. Pan searing makes all the difference – even if we have to dirty one more pan in the process. Once again, looking for a scullery maid to do the clean up in my kitchen!
What do you cook in your slow cooker?
Go Gingham related links:
Go Gingham food philosophy – yes, there is one
New to cooking at home? Fear not!
Cute and clean for the kitchen: make a baking soda shaker for soaking those stubborn pots and pans
Why I cook with pork – several reasons – and one involves sweat