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10 or 11 hours in a slow cooker?

Deenso Jul 23, 2007 01:33 PM

It would be so nice to get home from work and just have some last-minute prep in order to enjoy a home-cooked meal at the end of the day, but my husband and I leave for work at 7:30 a.m. and don't usually get home until after 6:00 p.m. The slow cooker recipes I've seen call for cooking on low for 6, 7, or 8 hours, max.

I'd love some suggestions as to main dishes (chicken, beef, pork, whatever) that can cook for a few hours longer, if such actually exist.

Can you help?

Thanks in advance,
Deenso

  1. c
    Christnp Jul 24, 2007 11:52 AM

    I recently bought a slow cooker that has programmable time. When the cook time ends, it goes into a 'keep warm' mode. Sorry, I can't remember the brand off hand, but it's a major one (not Rival, though). I got mine at Costco.

    1. a
      ali patts Jul 24, 2007 10:27 AM

      All my recipes seem to state 6-8 hours too. I ignore the recipe. I figure if you're going to cook something for 8 hours does an extra 2 really matter. I leave the house at 8 and return after 7, only once have I have a problem and that was because I didn't put the lid on properly and more liquid evaporated than should have. I probably allow a little more liquid than the recipes because of the extra time but know that if the sauce is too thin when I get in I can always reduce some of it in a pan in the time it takes to do the rice/potatoes etc.

      1. m
        martin1026 Jul 24, 2007 09:29 AM

        I've heard people recommend not cooking chicken in the crock pot, but never been given a great reason-is it because it takes a while to get up to temp? I've cooked chicken in a smoker before (starting off cold) and never had a problem.

        BTW-the crockpot is also quite useful for making duck confit

        1 Reply
        1. re: martin1026
          leanneabe Jul 24, 2007 09:45 AM

          Chicken breasts have a tendency to get dry and stringy if left in the crockpot for too long (like 12 hours). I sometimes see this if I'm cooking it in a tomato sauce or just broth, but using condensed cream soups it's okay (hey, sometimes cream o' mushroom comfort food over rice is good). Chicken thighs seem to fare better at long cooking times.

        2. s
          shellyesq Jul 24, 2007 08:57 AM

          I've done a lot of stuff in the crock pot for 10 or more hours. Sometimes the parts that are on top or out of the liquid get somewhat browner than the rest, but it's still edible. Chili is something that can cook for a long time with little/no problem, since it's most liquid. I've never tried one, but I'd imagine soups would work out pretty well too.

          1. Deenso Jul 24, 2007 07:23 AM

            Thanks, all, for your input. I guess I'll try by starting out simply, with a big beef roast, when we get back from our vacation in August. If there's anything worth reporting, I'll let you know.

            1. geg5150 Jul 23, 2007 05:58 PM

              I wouldn't worry about the time. I've used the same trick that someone else mentioned when I know it will be a long day and throw in the meat while frozen.

              A whole chicken with rosemary, thymes (whatever herbs you have around) with a couple of lemons sliced, add white wine and it's delish. You can add carrots and onions too.

              I generally don't to potatoes at all, because they cook the fastest and get mushy.

              I did an amazing NC style pork that look 10-12 hours. I just covered the meat with water, apple cider vinegar, pepper corns (whole), bay leaves. At the end, I shredded it and made my own vinegar based pepper sauce that was awesome!!!

              Babyback ribs are good too with your favorite sauce thinned down a little.

              Really, try anything it's always good. The key is to have enough liquid. NEVER add rice or pasta at the beginning, it'll be mush at the end.

              1. Marianna215 Jul 23, 2007 03:58 PM

                Deenso-
                I've used my slow cooker for over a year and it's been a life saver on some especially long work days. I have a "smart" slow cooker that you can set for "fast" (4-6 hours) or SLow (8-10) after the alotted time is over, the slow cooker switches to "warm." I've cooked a bunch of stuff in there on the 10 hour cycle and come back 12 hours later to a delicious meal.
                Like Sherri - I love to cook pork shoulder in there, it comes out so much more tender than in the oven or barbecue, but I also recommend using the slow cooker to cook beans. it's so inexpensive and delicious - my stand by is white beans in a slow cooker, cooked in a mix of wine and water, with tons of garlic and some fresh rosemary.

                1. leanneabe Jul 23, 2007 02:58 PM

                  I've had work days like yours and have left my crockpot cooking (on low) that long. Sometimes the meat gets a little "dry" if it's cooked too long, but it's still tender and tasty. If you start with larger pieces of meat, it can cook longer than if you cut up the meat. There's no harm done and the finished meal is fine, it's just something I notice.

                  You could set an electrical timer to shut off the crockpot at 5pm (giving you about 8.5 hours of cooking time) and it'll still be pretty hot by the time you get home, but maybe not actively cooking.

                  Or, you could cook it overnight while you're sleeping. That would give you the 6-8 hour range before you leave for work. Scoop the cooked food into some containers and refrigerate. Put the dirty crockpot in the sink to deal with when you come home.

                  I don't know how early you wake up before leaving for work, but I think I would try to remove the cooked food from the crockpot as early as possible, to let it cool as much as possible before refrigerating it. I've read putting hot food in the fridge isn't energy-efficient and the food may cool down too slowly to prevent bacteria from forming? Having said that, I haven't gotten sick from doing this every now and then.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: leanneabe
                    j
                    jono37 Jul 23, 2007 03:05 PM

                    The best crockpot technique: a hobo pack. This is where you put the vegetables in tinfoil and set them on top of the stew. That way they gently steam and stay fairly firm rather than turning to mush.

                    1. re: leanneabe
                      r
                      renov8r Jul 23, 2007 03:46 PM

                      The problem with putting hot food in the fridge is mostly energy efficiency AND the problem of the hot food heating up stuff in the fridge -- I don't think there is ever a problem with hot food cooling too slowly in the fridge.
                      In commercial kitchens there are techniques and devices to more rapidly cool food, but that is needed due the large volumes of food produced -- think gallons of soup/stew...
                      The cook overnight, put in fridge, reheat in the evening works pretty well for home-sized quantities.

                      1. re: leanneabe
                        C. Hamster Jul 24, 2007 08:53 AM

                        "I've read putting hot food in the fridge isn't energy-efficient and the food may cool down too slowly to prevent bacteria from forming? "

                        Anything will cool faster in a fridge than on the counter.

                        Don't put screaming hot stuff in the fridge, but you should never let food cool to room temp on the counter before putting it in. Cool it with a water bath or put it in while still pretty warm. That's fine unless you have a whole lot of cooked food. Today's fridges are pretty well able to adjust for very warm cooked food.

                      2. s
                        Sherri Jul 23, 2007 01:47 PM

                        Deenso, I have a smart friend who puts her slow cooker on a timer when she's going to leave the house early and wants dinner when she returns. Set for, say 10 or 11 AM, the meal is cooked for the requisite 7 or 8 hours and ready at 6 PM.

                        My really old 1970s crockpot happily cooks for 10-12 hours and nothing has ever been wildly overcooked, but the new one seems to cook much, much faster even on "low".

                        I like to cook tough cuts of pork to shred for use burritos and tomorrow morning's eggs. Anything with dried beans - black beans and garbanzos are my favorite - has been successful.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Sherri
                          C. Hamster Jul 23, 2007 02:28 PM

                          I'd be nervous about leaving raw meat at room temp for that long, though.

                          1. re: C. Hamster
                            s
                            swsidejim Jul 23, 2007 02:33 PM

                            thats what I was thinking regarding leaving raw meat out for 3-4 hours.

                            1. re: swsidejim
                              s
                              Sherri Jul 23, 2007 03:20 PM

                              ...... yet we routinely remove meat from the refrigerator several hours before cooking to allow it to come to room temp .....

                              Maybe I've been lucky, but I've never had any problems (she says crossing her fingers) with this practice.

                            2. re: C. Hamster
                              m
                              mbfergie Jul 23, 2007 04:07 PM

                              When I use to work long hours I would use the timer. I would put all my ingredients in the fridge along with the ceramic portion of the crockpot. Instead of adding any water to recipe I would use. As soon as I got up in the morning I would throw meat in freezer. Before I left house I mixed it all together and set the timer, since all ingredients went in cold I am sure they never made it to room temp before it turned on. Also, I set the timer to turn off in case I was delayed extra long getting home.

                          2. f
                            flipkeat Jul 23, 2007 01:42 PM

                            Hey Deenso I use my slow cooker mostly in the Winter however, if you ask me unless it's chicken you are cooking..I'd put in a short rib roast large and all the fixins for beef dip sandwiches and cook it for 8 - 10 hours..then put it on "keep warm" should be fine..Hopefully your slow cooker has the "keep warm" feature..should be fine then.
                            I have a great recipe for Beef Dip Au Jus...for the slow cooker if you should want it..

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: flipkeat
                              cheri Jul 23, 2007 04:00 PM

                              yes, can you please post the beef dip au jus recipe please, thanks!

                              1. re: cheri
                                f
                                flipkeat Jul 24, 2007 05:42 AM

                                Beef "Dip" Sandwich

                                Ingredients:
                                3 1/2 pounds beef bottom round roast
                                2 medium onions, sliced
                                1/2 cup dry white wine
                                1 package (1.1 oz size) Au Jus Mix
                                2 cups beef broth
                                6 French or Hoagie rolls
                                Directions:
                                Remove the top layer of fat on the roast. Place onion in bottom slow cooker; add roast. Combine wine, Au Jus Mix and broth; pour over meat.

                                Cover and cook on low 9 to 10 hours or until meat in tender. Slice the meat for sandwiches. Remove broth from pot (remove onions) and strain.

                                Serve in small bowls for dipping.
                                I add a couple of cloves of garlic and fresh thyme sprigs & freshly ground pepper. Also I use a "short rib" roast..I find it has great flavour ...Mmmm
                                Enjoy!

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