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Best Meats for Slow Cooking

Best Meats for Slow Cooking

January 18, 2012
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slow cooking

Using a slow cooker is probably as close as I will ever get to having a personal chef. Arriving home to the delicious aroma of dinner ready to eat is a luxury I could get used to (and I am guessing I am not the only one). There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting meat for a slow cooker. Understanding why certain cuts of meat are best for many hours of low-heat cooking can make your slow cooker recipes taste more like a personal chef made dinner, too.

The best meats for slow cooking also tend to have a lower price per pound (bonus!). There is a specific type of protein found in meat called collagen. Collagen is found in greater quantities in weight-bearing, frequently used muscles (think legs and shoulders). This protein can make for a tough and chewy piece of meat, which is one of the reasons the price is lower. There is a secret to this protein though, and your slow cooker is one of the best keys to unlock it. Cooking meat that has a lot of collagen for a long time with low, moist heat (like in a slow cooker) transforms the once tough protein into tender gelatin and thus, tender meat.

Alright, enough on the why and the how, let’s talk about what to look for at the grocery store. Below are the names you might see on the labels in the meat department to clue you in to which cuts to buy for slow cooker success.

Beef:

slow cooking
Slow Cooker Pot Roast

  • Chuck or shoulder (this could include pot roast, blade roast or short ribs)
  • Brisket
  • Round
  • Rump
  • Shank
  • Oxtails

Pork:

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Barbecue Pork Loin Ribs

  • Shoulder (Boston butt)
  • Rump
  • Shank (leg)
  • Rib Roast

Poultry (keep the skin-on to help retain the shape and moisture):

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Mandarin Orange Chicken

  • Thighs
  • Legs

Now that you are armed with knowledge to make the best choices at the store, you will have tasty results in the kitchen. Get inspired and find your next dinner in our Slow Cooker Entrée recipe collection. For additional tips on using your slow cooker check out Kim’s article Slow-Cookers: Your Personal Freedom Machine.

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Comments

I want any additional advice you will please give to a Senior Citizen, widowed bachelor, in good health. Advice mainly concerning Grocery buying, meats and vegetables, healthy meal planning. And some thoughts on using the Slow Cooker and the George Foreman Grill. I know I am asking a lot and if you choose not to respond I will understand. I just want to be able to eat as well as I can on my own. Without someone making me feel I am being a bother or am indebted to them for their begrudgingly given help. Thank you!

Posted January 05, 2015 by Ralph
Test Kitchen Comment
From: cindy
Thanks for contacting us. There is so much information on landolakes.com that you may be interested in reading. Go to the link near the top of the page titled "Blog". Click on that and you will be find much information about cooking and baking. Also, if you put the word, such as "Slow Cooker" in the search box on the page and you will go to any reference on the site for slow cooker. There is so much information and tips.
Posted January 12, 2015

I use my crock pot a lot. I work full-time so it is a great way to have a delicious meal waiting to me when I get home. Spare ribs are one of my favorite. Stew and pot roast are really good too. I would never go without my crockpot.

Posted January 24, 2012 by Joanne C.
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Amber
Joanne I agree – pot roast is one of my favorites too. Slow cookers are a great way to get the comfort of a “Sunday” meal without spending the whole day in the kitchen. Plus the smell of a completed meal when you walk through the door after work is priceless!
Posted January 26, 2012