THE BEST COOKING TIPS FOR MEXICAN FOOD USING A SLOW COOKER
If you love to cook and eat MEXICAN FOOD, these terrific tips will help you make the most of preparing delicious, festive Mexican dishes and beverages:
Take a moment to read the recipe all the way through before you start to cook. The
recipes in this site will satisfy 4 to 6 average appetites. If you are cooking for fewer
people, the RECIPES can be halved to serve 2 or 3, in which case they can be cooked in a
smaller slow cooker, such as a 4-quart variety. Everything in this book freezes well, with
the exception of the fresh salsas.
Some recipes call for browning or sautéing ingredients before placing them in the slow
cooker. This extra step adds color and an extra layer of flavor, but in most cases it can
be skipped if you are in a hurry. One exception is charring or toasting chiles (see
below), which is necessary to get the desired results.
Chiles are primarily used to add flavor—not heat—and many famous dishes, such as
mole, are not at all spicy. Any step involving FRESHor DRIED CHILES, such as roasting,
toasting, soaking, pureeing, or frying them, is essential for developing authentic
Mexican flavor. These very simple steps will make an enormous difference in the taste,
color, and texture of your finished dish and should not be skipped. (If you’re concerned
about a chile being too spicy, you can knock down the heat factor by simply removing
the seeds and ribs.)
Dry toasting whole spices and grinding them just before adding them to the slow cooker
will give you a remarkable boost in fragrance and flavor. Long cooking times can dull
the taste of spices, so the quantities in these recipes have been increased slightly to
compensate. Some salt should be added at the beginning of cooking, but always taste
the final dish and adjust the seasoning to your taste before serving.
Slow cooking coaxes the juices out of the food and intensifies natural flavors, so don’t be
tempted to add too much liquid to your slow cooker. If necessary, you can always thin a
well-flavored sauce at the end of cooking, which is better than drowning your food in a
Meat will cook faster than vegetables in a slow cooker, so arrange hard vegetables on
the bottom and around the sides of the slow cooker insert. Cut vegetables in cubes of
about ½ inch so they cook evenly. Root vegetables—carrots, potatoes, and the like—
must be peeled.
Cooking times may vary slightly depending on the brand of your cooker. The food is
done when the meats are very tender and the food smells wonderful. If you want
something to cook faster, preheat the cooker and use hot ingredients, like browned
meats and hot stocks. If you want something to cook more slowly, start with cold
ingredients. And, though it might sound like odd advice in a book on slow cookers, don’t
overcook the food. Longer is not necessarily better. A slow cooker with a digital timer
and an automatic warm cycle will ensure that your lovely guisado doesn’t cook to mush
while you are away.
LOW VERSUS HIGH SETTING
Long, slow cooking works magic on food, so nearly all of the recipes in this book are
cooked on the low setting. Slower cooking allows flavors to develop, sauces to thicken,
and meats to become meltingly tender. Foods cooked on high might be done more
quickly, but they also might taste watery and boiled.
After the ingredients start to simmer, it is perfectly okay to stir the food occasionally;
the cooking time should not be affected.
DEALING WITH A NOISY LID
If the lid of your slow cooker clatters while it simmers, slip a small piece of folded paper
towel under one edge of the lid.
STORING AND REHEATING LEFTOVERS
Slow cooker food tastes even better the next day, and once a dish is chilled overnight,
it’s easy to remove any excess fat, which floats to the surface.
Chill leftover food as soon as possible. Remove the food from the slow cooker insert as
soon as it is done and spread it in a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet until cool
enough to refrigerate. (Caldos and soups should be transferred to smaller containers and
either immersed in ice or stirred until cooled.) Next, thoroughly chill the food uncovered
to minimize crystallization, then freeze. I fill quart- and gallon-sized zippered freezer
bags with the food, date them, and freeze them flat. The food freezes quickly, stores
neatly, and thaws in a hurry.
Thawing is best done overnight in the refrigerator. To reheat, place the thawed food
in a pot or pan, bring to a high simmer or boil, and cook, stirring, for at least 5 minutes.
Never thaw or reheat food in the slow cooker.