Crock pot tips

• Buy roasts and other large cuts of meat that will fit in your crock pot, or plan to trim them to fit.

• Remove skin from poultry and trim excess fat from other meats before cooking.

• Fresh root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and onions, should be placed in the bottom of the pot, under the meat, for faster cooking. They tend to cook more slowly than meat.

• When thickening sauces near the end of cooking time, turn the heat setting to high to speed the process. Taste the liquid first, though; if it lacks flavour, it may be best to reduce by simmering several minutes uncovered.

• Do taste and season. Since slow cookers sometimes dilute flavours over a long period, be creative with your seasonings. Seasoned salt, garlic powder, seasoned pepper, and complementary herbs and spices are best added near the end of cooking.

• Colours tend to fade in slow cooked foods, but a garnishes such as chopped fresh parsley, chives, tomatoes, red peppers, cheese, or sour cream can add much visual appeal.