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Oct 9, 2012 11:24 AM

Slow cookers and FAT

I grew up on plenty of slow cooker meals: pot roast and chili, and that dreaded beef soup that I could never get a handle on.

I inherited my dad's Corningware piece when he got a new one, but I've had it for a year and haven't used it but two or three times. And that's only been for pulled pork barbecue!

What's really been keeping my from it is the fat issue. One particular instance that stands out in my mind is my younger brother trying to be helpful and making chicken in the crock pot. It ended up SO drenched in grease that I absolutely could not eat it. (This didn't seem to be as much of a problem with Mom's pot roast; either she was using pretty lean roasts or I didn't care about fat when I was a kid.)

Is this just the nature of slow cooker meat? I don't even mess with it right now because I don't want to dump all sorts of yummy stuff in it and come home to find it an inedible greasy mess.

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  1. occasionally have seen this when cooking pepperoni and tomato sauce... I've gently placed papertowels on the top of the concoction to soak up the grease, use as many towels as needed... alternatively, one could place the cooker into the fridge overnight to let the grease rise to the top and congeal into a solid; lift off in chunks... with chickens this fat is often highly prized as schmaltz!

    i've used

    1. I think it really depends on what you are cooking, but I rarely find my crock pot meals to be greasy. The exception is definitely pork shoulder for when I'm cooking carnitas or pulled pork. I tend to purchase lean and tough meats for using in my crockpot, and add nearly no fat, relying on the time and low temperature to do all my tenderizing. I've done whole chickens with no added liquid, and they make a ton of broth which I then defat overnight in the fridge.

      Stick to lean cuts and you should be fine.

      1. A slow cooker is not significantly different from braising and stewing with respect to how much fat is liquefied in the process. Meats that take well to long, slow cooking tend to be fattier cuts, and slowcooking - like braising and stewing - cooks the meat hot enough and long enough to liquefy much of this fat and then keeps it in the pot.

        Your options:
        - Pour off the fat after cooking
        - Spoon off the fat after cooking
        - Refrigerate overnight after cooking and then remove the solidified fat that gathers on top
        - Use a leaner piece of meat in the first place (note - there are some leaner cuts that take slower cooking reasonably well, but with many lean cuts you run the risk of dry grainy meat after long cooking)
        - Trim more fat off the meat you use before cooking

        6 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee

          Always thought the fridge thing was a pain. I used my gravy separator last time and kep all the delicious meat broth as a grease free sauce.

          1. re: melpy

            It is a bit of a pain. But on the upside, a lot of braised or slowcooked dishes taste better the next day anyway. Nothing wrong with a gravy separator though.

            1. re: melpy

              A GRAVY SEPARATOR? Why have I never heard of this?! Skimming the fat off of gravy is THE worst part of Thanksgiving.

              1. re: Kontxesi

                I've got this one.

                It's great for when I cook a pork shoulder. Cook till it's falling apart. Pull the meat out to "pull" it - typically with two forks. Strain the cooking liquid into the separator. Typically concentrate the defatted liquid and pour it back over the pulled pork.

              2. re: melpy

                how is this a pain? the fat congeals overnight and is easily broken off the top of the thing. i used a gravy separator once, for about 5 seconds, lol.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  It is a pain because then I am cooking something else to actually eat that day. I am impatient. The gravy separator is amazing. Why did you only use for a few seconds? Mine is larger and I believe OXO and it is fabulous.

            2. I don't have this problem, but then I think that cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot in it's own fat makes it perfectly moist and delicious.

              1. When I cook chicken in the crock pot I layer the bottom of the pot with chunks of onion and potato, that way the chicken isn't sitting in its own fat. Mind you, I don't find chicken very fatty, maybe it was some other ingredient that caused the greasiness?