Grocery store shelves are brimming with Quebec produce and meats for stewing and braising. It’s official—the time to dust off your Dutch ovens or slow cookers is here! For great-tasting stews, braises, and other slow-cooked dishes, follow our tips and enjoy delicious meals all season long.
Choosing the meatWhen it comes to slow cooking, pick cuts of meat made for the task (stewing cubes, blade roast, beef bourguignon cubes, osso buco, or poultry) and be sure to cut everything the same size for even cooking. For food safety reasons, don’t cook frozen meat directly. Thaw first in the fridge, then cook. Tip: Remove any visible fat and brown meat in a skillet first. This step is not required, but helps to lock in taste!
Selecting the vegetablesPut the harvest to good use by adding tasty locally farmed produce to your stews and slow-cooked meals! Veggies such as turnips, carrots, potatoes, and other root vegetables are perfect in stews. Cut them into 2.5 cm (1 in.) chunks as they take longer to cook. For vegetables such as peppers that need less time to cook, cut larger chunks and add in later.
Mixing up the flavoursSuccessful slow cooking basically comes down to the seasonings you choose! Given how long it takes to cook, fresh herbs are best—a bouquet garni or whole spices. Dried or ground herbs and spices lose their taste when cooked slowly. It’s therefore best to use them at the end of cooking, to adjust seasoning.
Preparing the mealIt’s important to add the ingredients to your Dutch oven or slow cooker in the right order:
- Vegetables go first, near the sides and on the bottom.
- Meat goes on top.
- Vegetables that are more delicate or frozen go in about 30 to 45 minutes before the end.
- Liquid (broth, wine, juices, etc.) should be added according to recipe directions.
- Seasonings go in at the end.
Chef’s tips for slow cooking
- Don’t lift the slow cooker’s lid as this will greatly reduce heat and increase cooking time.
- Try not to fill your slow cooker to the brim! Fill to half or two-thirds only for optimal cooking.
- If necessary, thicken liquid at the end with a mixture of water and corn starch.
- You can adapt many of your favourite recipes to your slow cooker. Reduce the amount of liquid by about half and, as a general rule, follow the cooking times below:
|15 to 30 minutes||4 to 6 hours on low 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours on high|
|30 to 60 minutes||6 to 8 hours on low 3 to 4 hours on high|
|1 to 3 hours||8 to 12 hours on low 4 to 6 hours on high|