If you are wondering whether meat needs to be submerged in water when you prepare it in your slow cooker, you are certainly not alone. Many people think that to evenly cook meats, they need their crockpots to be filled with water, but the amount of water necessary depends on the type of meat dish being prepared.
This article aims to cover this topic in detail by breaking the information into three tips, so you should know precisely how much water to add to your slow cooker by the time you finish reading. You will also find two scrumptious meat dish recipes at the end of this article that you can make in your slow cooker.
Tip 1: Determine the Dish Type
Whether you should submerge meat in your slow cooker has a great deal to do with the type of dish you are preparing.
If you are making a stew, you should submerge the meat, since you need all that extra liquid for the dish. If you are trying to braise your meat for a recipe, it will only need to be partially submerged in water, then cooked slowly at a low temperature.
Similarly, roasts typically only need to be cooked partially submerged in water or other liquids used in the dish, such as beef stock. Roasts contain plenty of moisture and can create their own steam to cook the meat to perfection.
Tip 2: Dryness of the Meat
Another very important factor in deciding how much liquid to add with meat in your slow cooker is how dry the meat is or how you want the end result to be. The more liquid added to your slow cooker, the more moist and less tough it will turn out.
Meats that work well in slow cookers include tougher meats such as blade, chuck steak or lamb shoulders. Choosing a meat that has higher fat content such as lamb will mean that it will need less water added when cooking.
Larger pieces of meat will also contain more moisture than smaller pieces. A whole piece of chuck steak or a whole lamb shoulder will need less or no water added when cooking. Thin pieces of meat such as diced meat will cook better when submerged and are perfect for making stews and stroganoff.
Tip 3: Fat Content
How lean the meat that you are making in your slow cooker is plays a very large part in how much liquid is needed for cooking it properly. If you are using a lean cut of meat, such as a flank steak, chicken thighs, or pork shoulder, it is probably best to submerge the meat.
Using more liquid in the slow cooker will help to soften up the meat and prevent it from drying out too much.
Recipe for Beef Stew
If you have a hankering for some hearty beef stew that can be easily prepared in your slow cooker, look no further. This recipe will provide you with some meaty stew that you will love.
Here are the ingredients you need:
- 2 pounds stew meat
- 1 pound baby red potatoes, diced
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cups beef broth
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Pinch kosher salt
- Pinch black pepper
First, put the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and season your meat with the kosher salt and black pepper. Heat up the oil before placing the beef into the pan, and sufficiently brown the meat.
Next, put the beef, potatoes, onion, garlic, and carrots into your slow cooker before also throwing in the beef broth, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme. Mix up all of the ingredients to combine them, and cover the slow cooker with a lid.
Cook the stew for seven or eight hours on the low heat setting or for three or four hours on high. After the stew has finished cooking, mix up a half-cup of the broth from the stew with some flour, and add the mixture to the slow cooker to thicken up your stew. It should take about another half hour to finish cooking.
Recipe for Pulled Pork
This recipe is for flavorful, tender pulled pork. You can put this on your favorite sesame seed buns, and serve it with a side of coleslaw or potato salad.
This recipe includes a dry rub and sauce. Here is what you will need:
- 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
The first step is to mix together the tablespoon of brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, cumin, sea salt, chili powder, black pepper, and paprika in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the barbecue sauce, ketchup, quarter-cup brown sugar, chicken broth, and Worcestershire sauce.
Next, get your pork pieces covered in your dry spices from the first bowl, and then add oil to your slow cooker. Brown all of the pork pieces, putting only as many as will fit in the slow cooker at a time before removing them after they are seared. Once the meat is browned, pour all of your sauce into the slow cooker, and then put the browned pork into it as well.
Make sure that you get the pork combined well with the sauce, and cover the slow cooker with a lid. Cook the pork on high for about three to four hours or on low for seven to eight hours. You can shred up the pork pieces with a couple of forks at this point, stirring the meat to evenly coat it in the sauce as you shred it up. Your pulled pork should now be ready to serve on some buns.
You should now know that whether you need to submerge meat in your slow cooker depends on the type of dish you are cooking, the fat content and size of the meat. Think about whether the meat you are cooking is on the drier side, if it is lean or fatty, and what dish you are using it for. For more moist and tender meat, always follow the recipe and add water or broth if it starts to dry out or stick on the bottom.
To find out how much energy your slow cooker uses, check out this calculator: Slow Cooker Energy Use Calculator
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.