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January is National Slow Cooking Month

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I love my slow cooker because I can prep my meal in the morning before we leave for the day, and when we get home, supper is ready.

In case you are wondering, a Crock-Pot and a slow cooker are the basically the same thing. Crock-Pot is the name brand of a line of slow cookers.

Slow cookers simmer food at a lower temperature and longer period of time than other cooking methods like baking and frying. It’s ideal for soups, stews and roasts. It cooks with moisture similar to the process of braising.

Depending on the recipe, you can just throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Set your cooker on low, and then 8 to 10 hours later, dinner is ready. It’s that easy.

A slow cooker can turn even the toughest cut of meat into a tender and delicious meal. Cuts like stew meat, pork shoulder and rump roasts are ideal for a slow cooker.

When cooking beef, I like to brown my meat on the stove top before putting it into the slow cooker. It is not a necessary step, but it really helps add a delicious depth of flavor to the dish. It works for both roasts and stew meat.

Use liquids like chicken stock, wine, canned tomatoes and even the liquid from jarred pepperoncinis to add moisture and flavor.

As your recipe is cooking, a delicious aroma will fill your kitchen. Don’t be tempted to peek at the meat though. Slow cookers cook best when the lid remains tightly in place. Opening the lid often will require additional cooking time.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.