My hubby is always nice and eats what I make for dinner. (yes he cooks occasionally as well) But he always told me that my crockpot meals were not his favorite. Being a HUGE fan of the crockpot (I think it is the most genius piece of cooking equipment since fire!) this was not making me happy. SO I investigated further — over several years;) His issues with my crock pot meals were:
1. The texture of the meat
2. Everything tasted the same
Well I was stumped for a few years. I’d make him suffer through a crock pot meal every month or so since they are so easy and I LOVE them. I tried a few new recipes, added seasoning, but still got the same “It was OK” response. At the time I was home with a preschooler and a new baby — dinner time was NOT a time for elaborate concoctions!
And then I found this freezer meal workshop online, went and created 10 meals in 2 hours and brought home cooking instructions. One of them was a crockpot recipe — OY! Well I was super excited about it. The recipe asked me to brown the meat before placing it in the crockpot. I NEVER did this before and always thought it was a waste of time and clean pots! But this time I followed the instructions and browned the pre-seasoned meat on all sides, put it and the other items in the crock pot and went about my day. Served dinner and got “that was really good” after dinner — REALLY??? I mean I thought it was fantastic AND easy (which means it was a 10 for me), but never thought Hubby would agree.
So I experimented with a few old recipes. I seasoned and browned the meat before putting it in the crock pot — JACK POT every time!! He liked them all!!!
I’m not a scientist, I’m not sure what browning the meat does to change the texture but it does work. I do think that seasoning the meat before browning allows that spice to penetrate the meat and give it a different more abundant flavor than when it is all seasoned together. I also find he is happier if I use a different seasoning on the meat than what is called for in the crock pot recipe. I think it adds more depth for him.
And now we are all living a happily ever after crock pot life!!!! WHEW!;)