Thursday, March 5, 2009

Avoiding the Crock Pot Oil Slick

I've been experimenting with our crock pot and make some unpleasant, but important discoveries. Number one is that searing meat before it goes into the crock pot is vital. Without doing so, you end up with the meat in a soupy, greasy mess. Remove the roast and it looks like the Exxon Valdez just sailed through

Case in point: One of my family's favorite recipes is chuck roast braised in wine and onion. My daughter especially loves the fall-apart tender meat and the carmelized onions.

Seems like a perfect fit for the crock pot. Not so much, it turns out. I've made it twice and both times the results were so-so. The meat cooked well, but the greasy bath it endured definitely detracted. And there is no delicious sauce to spoon over noodles or mashed potatoes.

By contrast, a barbecued baby back rib recipe I've tried several times is wonderful. Flavorful and fall-off-the-bone good. The difference? The barbecue rib recipe calls for broiling the ribs for 15 minutes before putting them in the crock pot.

I've noticed other crock pot recipes call for searing or broiling the meat before putting in the crock pot. I suspect this is key. And it makes sense. Sear the meat to seal in the juices and moisture, forestalling an oil spill.

It's kind like Kramer's idea of a rubber bladder inside oil tankers, with the searing constituting the bladder. Of course, I recommend against testing this theory by tossing your roast out a four-story window.

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