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Healthy Slow Cooker

Chapter 7

Top Tips for Slow-Cooker Steaks, Chops & Roasts

Leaner cuts of meat like beef blade steaks, pork loin and pork tenderloin, and roast beef are notorious for turning tough and dry even when cooked traditionally, so we were at first reluctant to try our hand at making them in a slow cooker. But to our surprise, we found that the slow cooker is actually helpful when cooking these cuts since the low, moist heat cooks them gently to the proper doneness. Here are some important tips for cooking these cuts successfully in a slow cooker.

Monitor Lean Roasts

While well-marbled roasts can cook all day and still come out moist, leaner roasts like pork tenderloins, pork loins, and beef eye-round roasts need to cook for a limited amount of time or risk becoming dry and overcooked. To make sure these roasts remain moist, we cook them on low and use 1-hour time ranges. start monitoring their temperature at the lower end of the time range and take them out of the slow cooker as soon as they reach the desired temperature. After you make these roasts for the first time, you should have some idea of how long it takes to cook them properly in your slow cooker.

Cut of Meat Temperature When Done

Pork Tenderloin

145 degrees

Pork Loin

140 degrees

Beef Eye-Round Roast

120–125 degrees (medium-rare); 130–135 degrees (medium)

Monitoring Slow Cookers

Maximize Flavor—Even with Less Fat

Although fat certainly helps to add flavor, we found other ways to enhance our lean meats. To prevent our steaks, chops, and roasts from turning out bland, we often season them liberally with robust spice rubs and braise them in bases of wine, broth, whiskey, or even applesauce with plenty of aromatics. As the roasts cook, they are infused with the bold flavor of the seasonings and braising liquid. Another way to add flavor with a minimum of fat is by browning roasts on the stovetop before adding them to the slow cooker, which we take advantage of in a few recipes where this made a big difference.

A Healthier Take on Hearty

Recipe Slow-Cooker Rustic Pork and White Bean Casserole

Inspired by the French classic cassoulet, we set out to create a healthy casserole in our slow cooker packed with vegetables and smoky pork flavor.

Trimming and Portioning

Beef and pork can be healthy as long as you trim away unwanted fat and are mindful of portion size. An untrimmed steak or beef roast can add up to 20 grams of fat and 180 calories to your meal. And by choosing a moderate 6 ounces of protein per person (raw weight) instead of 8 or 12 ounces (as many traditional recipes call for), you can easily limit fat and calories and still have a satisfyingly ample yet still “healthy” portion size for dinner.

Trimming Pork Tenderloin

Add Vegetables

We found that it was relatively easy to incorporate vegetables, beans, or grains into the slow cooker so they could cook alongside our steaks or roasts, which is both convenient and healthy. Sometimes we added fresh vegetables to the slow cooker as the roast rested to cook through in a flash. Fresh and bright vinaigrettes brought an extra flavor punch to our sides with few calories and little fat.

Let It Rest

After cooking almost any piece of meat, it is crucial to allow it to rest. During this time, the proteins relax and reabsorb any accumulated meat juices and redistribute them throughout the meat, resulting in more juicy and tender cuts and less pooled drippings. For lean cuts of meat that are prone to drying out and turning tough, this resting time is especially important for ensuring that they stay moist and tender.

Rest a Roast

Fresh Meals From A Slow Cooker Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution

200 flavorful, fuss-free recipes featuring leaner cuts of meat, fresh vegetables, and hearty grains. Discover the test kitchen’s easy tricks for building flavor with less fat.

“It’s packed with recipes for familiar favorites, but with a more healthful twist. And couldn’t we all stand a little more of that?”

Santa Cruz Sentinel