Slow cooker equipment

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Slow cooker equipment:

To make most slow cooker recipes, you will only need a slow cooker. Stocks, soups, stews, casseroles and pot roasts can all simply be cooked in the ceramic cooking pot. However, to make other dishes, such as cake and pates that are cooked in a bain-marie, you will need suitable cookware that is watertight and which will fit inside the ceramic cooking pot.

 

Cake tins/pans:

When cooking cakes in the slow cooker, always use cake tins that have a fixed, non-removable base, rather than loose-based or spring form tins. Before use, check that the tin is completely watertight by filling it with water and leaving it to stand for an hour; if it leaks it is not suitable. You should also check that the tin will fit inside the ceramic cooking pot before you prepare and fill it with mixture.

While it is important that the tin has a strong rigid shape, heat will penetrate more quickly if lighter, thinner tins are used. When using heavy-gauge metal tins, you will need to allow an extra 15-20 minutes cooking time.

Generally, round slow cookers can accommodate larger round and square cake tins than oval cookers. A 20cm/8in round tin or a 17.5cm/ 6 ½ in square tin should fit comfortably in a 5 litre/8 ¾ pint/20 cup round cooker, providing the sides of the tins are straight and there is no protruding lip or side handle. Oval cookers can also be used for round and square tins, if necessary, but the size will obviously be more limited.

The recipe in this book state which size and shape of tin to use. Try to stick to these as closely as possible – if the tin is too large you will end up with a shallow cake; if it is too small the mixture may overflow. Bear in mind, too, that the length of cooking time and the texture of the cake may be affected if the wrong tin is used.

Slow Cooker

 

Above: classic rectangular loaf tins are very useful for making terrines and 

cunkly, country-style cooked pates.

 

Loaf tins/pans:

Perfect for making terrines, pates and loaf-shaped cakes, these sturdy long, narrow metal tins are better suited to cooking in an oval-shaped slow cooker; which will accommodate their shape conveniently. A 3.5 litre/6 pin/14 cup oval slow cooker will hold a straight-sided 900g/2lb loaf tin or balmoral – a barrel-shaped ridged tin.

 

Ring tins/pans:

Kugelhopf tins and deep, ring-shaped tins that are not too wide, are excellent for using in a slow cooker. The hollow tube in the centre conducts heat into the middle of the cake, helping it to cook quickly and evenly. Ideally choose a ti with a centre tube that is just a little higher than the outer rim of the tin. However, you should also check that the tin fits inside the slow cooker and, that the cooker lid can still fit tightly on top of the ceramic cooking pot when the tin is inside.

Slow Cooker

Above: rectangular, round and heart-shaped tins can be used in

the slow cooker as long as they fit comfortable inside the pot.

 

Other shaped tins/pans:

There are many shaped of tin that may also be used in the slow cooker. These include small heart-, petal-, oval-, and hexagon-shaped thins. Before buying a tin to use in a slow cooker, it may be worth taking the internal measurement of the ceramic cooking pot first, to be sure the tin will fit inside.

 

Dariole moulds:

These little sandcastle-shaped ins are usually made of matt aluminium and come in various size, although moulds with a 65mm/ 2 ½ in diameter are the most popular. Dariole moulds are useful for making single-portion sized cakes, desserts and timbales, and are particularly good for making individual baked custards.

 

Souffto and remekin dishes:

These pretty round dishes can be used as an alternative to metal cake tins, as well as for cooking pates and mousses. They are always straight-sided and may be made of glass, heatproof porcelain or stoneware. Glass or porcelain are preferable because they conduct heat more quickly to the food inside. When using these dishes for cake making, it is better to choose one with a perfectly flat base; occasionally they are slightly domed. Individual soufflé and can be used to make small, individual cakes, pates and desserts such as baked custards.

Slow Cooker

Above: Meat thermometers are used to check that meat is cooked through.

 

Terrines:

Usually rectangular in shape these dishes may be made of porcelain, cast iron or earthenware. When used to make pate, they may double up as a serving dish. Some earthenware terrines aren’t glazed, so are unsuitable for use in a bain-marie in a slow cooker. A loaf tin makes a good substitute.

Slow Cooker

Above: metal pudding bowls with a clip-on lid and handle for easy lifting

are great for making steamed meat puddings.

Pudding bowls:

Traditionally made of white earthenware, but also made of toughened glass, aluminium or polypropylene, pudding bowls have sloping sides, which make the top much wider than the base. They are idea for making sweet and savoury steamed puddings and can also be used to melt chocolate, butter and similar ingredients in a bain-marie in the slow cooker. Bowls made from aluminium may have a clip-on lid with a handle attached. They are very good for making steamed meat and pail sponge puddings, because heat is conducted quickly. They are unsuitable for making acidic fruit desserts or similarly acidic recipes because the acid will react with the metal.

 

Meat thermometers

These useful instruments are the most reliable way of checking that meat is thoroughly cooker – this is particularly important for poultry, which can pass on the salmonella bacteria when raw or partially cooker. Most thermometers have a stainless steel body and a glass dial. By piercing the meat near the centre towards the end of the cooking time, you can check the temperature inside the meat. The meat is ready to eat when the pointer on the dial reaches the appropriate wording; there are indications for types of meat including chicken, beef, lamb and pork, as well as reading within some of those categories for rare, medium and well-cooked meat. Choose a thermometer with a thin probe, so that it doesn’t make large holes in the meat, causing juices to be lost. Do not leave the thermometer inside the meat during cooking because exposure to steam in the slow cooker could damage the dial. Immediately water and wipe it clean; don’t immerse the thermometer in water.

Slow Cooker

Above: metal pudding bowls with a clip-on lid and handle for easy lifting

are great for making steamed meat puddings.

 

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