I don't have 8 hours for slow cooking...any conversions?
My husband really really wants a slow cooker dinner tonight. The sauce he picked says I can do it in a dutch oven 3-4 hours but for some reason he prefers the slow cooker (I usually use my Le Creuset but for a meal he's really looking forward to want to use his slow cooker). Can I use the slow cooker at a different temp for 3-4 hours? Will it have the same results, ie super tender and all the fat and whatnot melted away.
Well, it looks like it might be possible on High heat:
And from Rival Crockpot's site under the General Cooking Tips tab:
Q: What’s the difference between "Low" and "High" cooking?
A: Both "High" and "Low" stabilize at the same temperature; it is just a matter of how long it takes to reach the simmer point. Once food reaches the simmer point, total cook time is dependent on cut and weight of meat to reach the point of maximum flavor and texture potential. Most dishes can be prepared on either "High or "Low."
Q: What are the typical cook times for Crock-Pot® Slow Cookers?
A: Typical cook time for Crock-Pot® SlowCookers to reach simmer point is 209°F:
Low: 7-8 hours to reach the simmer point
High: 3-4 hours to reach the simmer point
Q: How do I convert cook times between "High and "Low?
A: Below is a conversion chart to illustrate the comparative cook times for "High" and "Low"*
3 hours 7 hours
4 hours 8 hours
5 hours 9 hours
6 hours 10 hours
7 hours 11 hours
8 hours 12 hours
*** It is not recommended to convert recipes with cook times less than 7-8 hours on "Low" or 3-4 hours on "High."
So it depends on the length of time recommended in the original recipe as to how long to cook it on High.
Probably too late for the O.P. but if you make sure everything is thawed and at room temperature then preheat to a simmer, transfer to the crockpot on high. It will be done in a couple of hours. Of course if you did that, you might as well do it all in a cast iron dutch oven in the oven.
Even faster... do it in a pressure cooker.
I say, yes! If the meat is cut in bite size chunks, there should be no reason why you couldn't slow cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hrs. Just make sure the meat is covered in liquids.
Too late to help, but here is a bit of posthumous advice should this situation arise again:
Probably the single biggest factor in why a slow cooker takes longer to break down meat than a traditional braise is that the slow cooker generally takes much longer to get up to it's full cooking temperature, especially if you have much in it. A fix (of sorts): plug in the slow cooker while you assemble the ingredients and get it hot. Preheat the stew in a big saucepan on the stove until simmering. Dump stew in slow cooker. You'll cut the cooking time as low as the slow cooker can manage.
Normally, I'd say just skip the slow cooker when you don't have time to use it well... and anyway I prefer the effect of a traditional braise. But in situations like this when someone demands using the slow cooker, separate preheats are the best option.
Coyboyardee - that is why I love my particular slow cooker; it is a rectangular shape with rounded corners (so you can stir easily into all areas), but the shape can actually hold a chicken to roast, or a long pork roast.
The best part is, the heating element is seperate, like a griddle, and the pot can go on the stove to brown things first, or bring it up to a simmer, then put on the slow-cooker base and go on it's merry way. A gift from my sister, I have never seen one like it anywhere else. I love it so much that now at 8 years in, I searched all over until I found a replacement cord after the original melted through when accidentally got near a stove burner.
"...in situations like this when someone demands using the slow cooker, separate preheats are the best option."
I find this to be good advice. I do it quite often to reduce the total cooking time with the slow cooker.
A bit of humor: ",,, any coversions?" Nope. If it's not slow cooked it isn't.
If they're chunks of meat you'll be fine in 3 hours, though 4 would be better. You need 6 hours if you're tossing in a whole huge hunk of meat. Even then, you can generally get tender in an hour and a half braising on the stove, but that's an absolute minimum.