A recent e-mail brought to light an issue some people have with the slow cooker. While Regina Maraist is “sold on slow cooking,” she sometimes finds the process takes the flavor out of meats.
In my reply, I told her some of the ways I have tried to minimize the problem. With pork roasts, for instance, make slits in the roast and insert garlic cloves. The same can be done with beef roasts. Season meats and brown before putting in the cooker. It isn’t a necessary step to cooking the meat, but it does seal in the seasonings better.
When fat accumulates, drain it out of the cooker and continue cooking. Pork is especially bad about accumulating fat. Drain it midway through the cooking process so roast isn’t sitting in it for 6 to 8 hours.
Another way is to surround the meat with stronger ingredients. The meat will pick up the flavors.
For example, Creighton Dupont invented his own recipe for Daube, first served to him by friends from New Orleans. His daube is a spaghetti dish that is cooked far longer than ordinary slow-cooked dishes. The reason is to get the dark red color so associated with daube. The roast, as you can imagine, completely falls apart, as it is meant to do for this dish. He suggests cooking overnight if you don’t have enough time during the day. I cut the time on Low to 9 hours, down from Dupont’s 12 hours, since the color was already deep red.
Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.