Yes, you can. However, due to its thin pieces, adequate care should be taken when seasoning and cooking ground beef in a crock-pot.
Crockpots, otherwise called slow cookers, have become a necessary addition to the average American kitchen since the 20th century. It was first used by women who worked away from home in the 1940s, allowing them to begin dinner preparation in the morning through evenings when they got back from work. Crock-pots serve as both cooking containers and heat reservoirs and vary in capacity.
Ground beef is popular as a relatively cheap and quick-cooking form of beef. Some of its best-known uses are in hamburgers, sausages and cottage pies. It is an important ingredient in meatloaf, sloppy joes, porcupine meatballs, tacos, and most midwestern cuisine. Although it is generally made from the less tender cuts of beef, trimmings from tender cuts can also be used.
What’s different when cooking with slow cookers?
Recipes for other cooking methods must be altered for slow cookers to cater to some variables. The volume of liquids may need little adjustments, as there is a little steam escape through evaporation, but there should be adequate liquid for the food.
Crock-pots are your best bets when it comes to preparing healthy meals at a relatively low cost. They are largely inexpensive, easy to handle, and can turn relatively cheap cuts of meat or low-cost vegetarian dishes into delicious meals with very little effort.
Slow cookers enhance the flavor of a meal by taking less desirable cuts of beef and turning them into tasty meals by cooking in low heat over several hours.
Most slow cooker recipes are easy to prepare and require little to no culinary skills to master. Crock-pots are a good fit for a large variety of dishes, including Casseroles, Homemade meatballs, lasagna, mashed potatoes and bone broths, but they can be used to prepare pulled meat including pork, chicken and ground beef. Ground beef is at its most tender when prepared with Crockpots. The long hours of cooking also make ground beef much more flavorful.
How to cook ground beef in a crockpot
Depending on the type of crockpot you are using and its average cooking temperature, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- This first is to always heat your ground beef at a consistent temperature during the cooking process. Ground beef is known to contain bacteria that multiply like crazy in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees; it is, therefore, advisable to cook at a consistent internal temperature of 160 degrees.
- Also, try not to throw in your ground beef straight from the freezer; it helps to start cooking at room temperature. A refrigerated ground beef takes more time to cook than one that starts off at average room temperature. Those extra minutes add up to tougher, drier fibres as the proteins in the muscle fibers become stronger and additional flavor escapes.
- To avoid clumps of extra grease in your dish, it is advisable to brown your ground beef before putting it in a slow cooker. The caramelized part of the meat will also lend a rich flavor to the prepared dish.
- You should also make efforts to spice your ground beef judiciously during preparation and use less water. Since Crockpots generate steam that stays in the pot as the lid remains closed, there will be less liquid in the food when it’s finished than when it started. To this effect, resist the urge to constantly check on your ground beef during cooking. The steam generated during slow cooking is part of the cooking medium. Opening the lid will release this steam and increase cooking time.
What kinds of food should you not cook in a crock-pot?
Since slow cookers are used to prepare dishes that require less supervision and control, fast meals are out of contention for slow cookers. Dairy products such as milk, cream, yoghurt and cheese are not to be prepared using a slow cooker because of their tendency to curdle.
Couscous cooked over time tends to get mushy and will definitely not be appetizing. Rice, pasta and other food which take about 20mins to prepare shouldn’t be cooked with a crock-pot; otherwise, you may have grains of uneven texture or mashed-up pasta.
Chicken skin and boneless chicken breast should not be prepared using a crockpoot. Lean meat can dry out and get super tough when cooked for a long time; however, boned chicken can still be prepared in a crock-pot without its skin. Chicken skin will only come out tough and rubbery when cooked slowly
Delicate vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, peas and zucchini should not be cooked for too long. These vegetables are better added to your dishes at the last minute to preserve their nutrients and crispiness.
It should be noted that Slow cookers come with many disadvantages and hazards and should be used with these disadvantages in mind. In spite of its low cost, power-saving and other benefits, Crock-pots have inherent concerns.
Crock-pots do not provide enough heat to compensate for the loss of moisture and steam due to frequent removal of the lid, e.g. to add seasoning; added ingredients must be given time to cook adequately before the food can be eaten.
Long-term steaming of food can also cause loss of nutrients in food, particularly vegetables. High condensation also requires that consideration be given when adding ingredients to the mix to cater to the excess liquid that comes in the form of vapor and droplets. If not properly managed, the excess liquid may dilute the seasoning already added.
Crock-pots can also lead to uneven results. Some foods take longer than others to cook. In this, cooking the hard ingredients before to match other ingredients can help evenly cooked food. The fact that slow cookers work better with fresh produce reduces the range of food items that can be prepared with Crockpots.
Agnes is a kitchen and cooking enthusiast as well as a fitness fanatic. She loves to help readers upgrade their kitchen with the best available products!