Slow cooking is a popular cooking method. It’s usually done in a crockpot, and you can set it up when you leave for work and keep it on during the work day. It will gradually cook your meal at low, steady heat while conserving energy. Then when you get home in the evening, all you have to do is serve.
Many crockpots will detect when the food is ready, and will automatically switch themselves from ‘cook mode’ to ‘warm mode’. This ensures the food doesn’t overcook and that it’s still hot when you get home.
The benefits of slow cooking are numerous. It’s a low fuss form of cooking, since you just put everything in the pot, shut the lid, turn it on, and leave. Crockpots are energy efficient even though they are left on for hours at a time. Your crockpot can continue to cook while you’re away, and you can leave it working for eight or even twelve hours.
Crockpots are good for one-pot-meals. Because they cook on low heat, and because all the food stays covered throughout the duration of cooking, no nutrients are lost or leeched into the air. Slow cookers also emit minimal heat outside the cooking chamber, so they won’t unnecessarily raise the kitchen temperature.
Again, because the lid remains closed throughout, all the juices, particulate scents, and individual flavours will remain inside the pot, marinating and infusing each other for a delicious, sweet-smelling meal.
Slow cookers can be especially useful if you’ve bought a cheaper cut of meat that might be tough and need special attention to make it palatable. Just throw it in the crockpot and let time do the rest. Slow cooking is a fuss-free method of cooking.
Meat is best slow-cooked because it softens the meat and retains the flavour while allowing you to focus on other things. You can multitask without worrying about scorching your meat to a crisp. Of course crockpots are just one way of slow cooking meat. A far better option is to smoke your meat over fruitwood. This can take several hours, maybe even a whole day.
Using fruitwood to slow cook your meat gives it an extra dose of flavour, kills bacteria, and makes it tender and mouth-watering. When you’re cooking meat with fruitwood, you can place the meat on a smoking rack, roasting spit, or metal grill. The firewood will cook the meat from below and infuse it with heat and smoke over several hours.
The main advantage of fruitwood roasting is colour. When you slow-cook your meat in a crockpot, it will taste great but is unlikely to brown. You have to sear the meat before locking it in the crockpot, and that extra step could end up cancelling out all the benefits of the crockpot. Searing before slow cooking takes longer, dirties more dishes, and adds fuss.
On the other hand, cooking over fruitwood logs incorporates searing into the process. As you begin, you allow the meat to cook for a few minutes on each side to brown the outside and seal in the juices, then you begin your fruitwood cooking in earnest, allowing the meat to spend longer periods lying on each side.
As you roast the meat, you can place a tray below the meat to collect dripping juices. Use that dripped juice to baste the meat as it continues to cook. Cooking over fruitwood embers isn’t as hands-off as a crockpot, but the meat ends up tasting better.
There are different kinds of fruitwood, and they each have distinct characteristics. For example, apple wood burns with a small flame, while pear is medium. Red jam wood is better used on white meat, because its sweet flavour gets lost in red meat. Orange fruitwood is ideal for seafood barbeques and has a distinct aroma.
As you cook, keep the meat cold so that it attracts and absorbs more of your flavourful fruitwood. The meat should be suspended well above the wood, to keep temperatures low and slow the cooking time. Keep the meat moist throughout, both with basting juices and water spritz. For extra flavour, rub the meat with spices.
Fruitwoods give off minimal sparks and their smoke smells divine, so the cooking experience is a pleasure. Be sure to get your wood from the right supplier so that you’re assured of top quality, a reliable supply chain, and timely delivery in case you need it.