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Sep 22, 2009 02:22 PM

adapting a recipie to use a slow cooker

So I have this beloved short ribs recipie that I would like to make this weekend. Typically I used my dutch oven but I have recently accquired a slow cooker and would like to use that instead. It seems fairly obvious to me how to do this - brown meat and veggies etc as I normally would in dutch oven, transfer to the crock pot and add braiding liquid but I was wondering if I am missing anything. I have only used to the crock pot once so if anyone has any suggestions on put it on high or low, adjust liquid etc I would love it. If it makes any difference these ribs are meant to be braised in the oven for 3 hours (would rather not heat up the apartment!). Thanks!

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  1. No, you are not assuming too much. A crock pot is an enclosed vessel (just as your Dutch oven is an enclosed vessel) and as long as the temperatures are maintained essentially equally in both vessels the results will be the same. "High" and "Low" in a crock pot can cover a wide range of variables. Personally, I would not use a crock post that didn't provide me with at least a basic idea of what the temperature of the crock pot is at any given time. The liquid in the crock pot will never get above 212 degrees before it turns to steam, but when braising the temperature of the trapped air mass will also haven an influence.
    From you description, I might try one hour on high and two hours on low for your ribs in a braising liquid. Use the same amount of liquid you would normally use but check it periodically to see how things are progressing and, if you need to add more liquid, make sure it's brought to the boiling point (microwave or stove top) before adding it to your crock pot.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      I disagree with the liquid part of this advice. I've found through experience that liquid tends not to evaporate very much at all from crock pots, and you end up with a lot more liquid at the end than if you braised in the oven. In general I use a lot less liquid when cooking in a crock pot - like about a third as much, or even less. For short ribs I'd use a quarter to a third as much liquid as the 'regular' recipe calls for, and put it on low for 6 to 8 hours. I too hate to heat the house up : ).

      1. re: Bat Guano

        I agree on cutting the liquids. Also, if you're using alcohol, deglaze the pan you're searing the meat in with it and let it cook down some first before adding to the crockpot. I do it on low almost all day, at least 8 hours. I've also used a kitchen towel, folded in half, under the lid. It absorbs some liquid and lets some evaporate.

    2. Try halving the liquid and double the cooking time (that's if you're cooking on high - longer if you're using the "low" setting). You may need to make adjustments, but will be in the right ballpark.

      1. From some of the comments, I'm left with the impression that some of us may use more liquid in a braise than others. Frankly, I use very little liquid in a braise; I'm not boiling the meat, I'm looking for a braise (roasting in a pot) not a boiled dinner. It's not necessary to braise something like short ribs for 8 hours (or anywhere near that) and 3 - 4 hours on low setting in any crock pot should be sufficient to get the job done.
        Whatever you decide to do, always be sure and check your liquid level at some point.
        The idea of using a towel under the lid defeats much of the purpose of braising. Much of the flavor derived from braising comes from the self basting that occurs from the condensation of the evaporating liquids on the underside of the lid during cooking. A good braising vessel will collect bits of semi-solid bits on the underside of the lid that, when returned to the pan for making a final sauce or gravy, increase the richness of the dish.

        1 Reply
        1. re: todao

          I tried the kitchen towel after reading it as a hint. There's enough condensation for the ribs and allows about the same as braising in a dutch oven. The crockpot seals too much of the liquid and I find if I don't do the towel, I have to cut the liquids by as much as a cup, possibly more. How much liquids do you use, todao? I've done along the lines of this recipe (though I don't measure) when I braise in the oven.

        2. hummmm, well at least i know it wasnt an obvious answer! i am going to take this all under advisement and try my hand at it this weekend. I will report back but I think I am just going to have to baby sit this a little and add liquid as i go.