Basting is a popular activity when preparing meat, especially thanksgiving turkey, as all of the cookbooks always recommend it as you cook. Today basting has become one of those actions that seem part of cooking meat, just like stirring soup or flipping steaks, and a lot of people don’t seem to understand the purpose.
Slow cookers help make cooking easier so you can tenderize harder meat, but have you ever tried basting meat with it?
Should you baste meat in a slow cooker?
Ideally, you shouldn’t baste your food in a slow cooker as it does nothing to improve the food but only elongates the cooking time. However, if you are particular about the flavor on the exterior of your meat or want a specific color on the surface of your flesh.
Can I Baste Meat In A Slow Cooker?
Basting is a cooking technique that helps keep the surface of meat moist while cooking. Typically, the liquids used for basting are stock, pan drippings, butter, etc. It also gives the meat the natural flavor of your basting liquid to make it spicier.
A slow cooker isn’t the ideal cooking utensil when you want to baste meat, as an oven or grill are usually better alternatives. However, it can be done if you’re creative, or you can follow my guide as explained below.
Should You Baste Meat In A Slow Cooker?
Some people hold the theory that basting slows down cooking since you will have to open the lid and let heat escape over and over. If the cooking time is slower, it will take a longer time for the roast to stay in the oven, which increases the risk of making the meat dry out.
Basting is generally for adding flavor, crispness, and color to the exterior of the roast; it doesn’t necessarily affect the texture or taste of the meat. This typically means it does nothing to make the interior moist or tender, and roasting chicken in the oven is adequate for making the chicken turn golden brown without basting.
Also, basting seems like just an activity for the cook to engage in while cooking and not a necessity for producing good food. Basting does not give any significant value to food but also hinders and prolongs the cooking process. In actuality, spilling liquid or fat on your roast does not do anything to the interior.
Then there’s the matter of doing the basting in a slow cooker which seems counterproductive because a slow cooker’s primary purpose is to make cooking less stressful. It was designed so you don’t have to open up and baste the meat constantly.
Slow cookers are great for tenderizing cheap cuts of meat and often sears away the skin of meat like a chicken, making it rubbery and gelatinous. While using slow cookers, the meat is supposed to be submerged in water and with the lid closed.
How to Baste Meat In A Slow Cooker?
If you still intend to baste meat in a slow cooker, you need to carefully and adequately avoid the meat from getting overcooked, which could make it look unattractive.
Follow the below steps to baste the meat in a slow cooker
- Add a cup of water into the slow cooker and set up the environment for moist heat.
- Rub the spice mixture on both sides of your meat before placing it in your slow cooker.
If your meat has fat on its body, always place this side up to melt and help in basting the meat.
- You can cover your meat in bacon and add more fat or liquids, so it melts and bastes the food as you cook it.
- Get a small bowl and mix all your ingredients in a place.
This includes pepper, onion powder, salt, oregano, and garlic powder.
These spices may differ based on your preferences and the type of meat you’re cooking.
- Massage a dry rub these ingredients into the surface of the meat, so it forms a crust on the surface.
Apart from adding flavor to the meat exterior, the crust also acts as a moisture seal.
- Cover the meat in aluminum foil if you don’t have access to a water drip pan.
It keeps all the moisture in the meat then baste the meat.
- Sear the meat at a higher temperature for about 20 minutes so the outer layer can get brown and lock the juices.
If you cook your meat at 250oF, start the meat at 350oF, or use a skillet to brown it at medium heat before placing it in your slow cooker.
What to Watch Out for While Basting Meat in a Slow Cooker
- Use chunks of meat instead of roasts or significant cuts.
If you’re cooking poultry, don’t use a whole chicken.
- Go for more recipes that are liquid, and make sure the cooker is about half to ¾ full to obtain the best results.
- Don’t check if the meat is done with a knife or by piercing the surface, as this breaks the moisture seal and allows the juices to leave the meat.
A great alternative is by using a meat thermometer.
- Try to keep the lid on for most of the time.
- Start cooking the meat at high temperatures for about an hour before turning it down to low.
Do not cook at one temperature throughout.
- Only use fresh or thawed meat; you should never put frozen meat in a slow cooker.
- Check the internal temperature to ensure it reaches 160oF.