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Browning meat?

Forgive me if this has been asked already...

Do you always have to brown meat before plopping it in?

This morning I put in a lb of frozen ground turkey meat in with some onions, garlic, and sauce that I made, for (hopefully!) some asian lettuce wraps tonight.

The recipe (http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/02/chicken-lettuce-wraps-crockpot-recipe.html)
called for chicken, not browned or anything...but I didn't have any, and used the turkey instead.

My crock heats up pretty quickly, and gets very hot...so I'm not too worried about bacteria...
should I be?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

-Emma



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( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
black_raven135
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
Yes it is a good idea no matter what your recipe calls for
I took a French cooking class once and she recommended it for dishes which are prepared in a Dutch oven, which I really love also, so I use a browned meat in crock pot also.
I also saute a few sweet onions in the pot before I add the
meat.......I love onions and garlic, but realize they are not suited for every recipe, but it sure adds some loveliness to the dish.
pinkitti
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm jealous. I want to take a french cooking class!! haha. Thanks for the heads up, next time I'll brown for flavor. I mostly just wanted to make sure that I wouldn't get awful food poisoning!

I love onions and garlic in with things too. It just gives dishes such a depth. Plus, it makes your kitchen smell good.

Thanks for the help!
black_raven135
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
YES for flavor. I find raw meat that has been thrown into a crockpot lacking in flavor. Of course onions always add some zest to it as well as some herbs........


Yes the French cooking class was just great. I took it through Adult Extension. There were 12 in our class and there were six stoves so we all got to cook as teams. The finale was we ate what we cooked which was to die for. The class was 8 weeks and each class lasted from 9 to 2PM.....
There was ONE man in our class. He was going to be second cook on a yacht (family of six) which was leaving San Diego heading south to tip of SoAmerica where it would then head north along the east coast of SoAmerica and return through the Panama Canal to San Diego. The only glitch was he had no French training so this was his introduction. He was 23 years old.
Can you imagine what an experience that would be???
pinkitti
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
I can't imagine. I'm 21, so the thought of an adventure like that blows my mind a bit...Maybe one day, haha.

When I finish up with school, and have a little bit more free time on my hands, I'm definitely going to take a cooking class.
It's on the list.
lazy_hoor
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
I seldom bother. I think it's more a flavour issue than a safety one.
kathminchin
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
the reason for browning is actually for flavour. The colour is caused by the sugars caramalising; so it adds flavour to the finished dish.

If you've got a nice hot crockpot and make sure it gets to top heat for a good length of time you should be fine food safety wise.
coleoptera
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)
It will also help remove the additional fats you don't really want to be cooking the meat and other foods in, so that helps with that.
pinkitti
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
I've heard this, but I'm not too worried about it in this case, because my turkey was only 7% fat. We try and go for the lean meats.

Thanks though! It's good to remember!
coleoptera
Oct. 12th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
You'd think that, but if you browned meat in a pan (and I often use ground turkey in place of ground beef in dishes, like sloppy joes and Hamburger Helper) you do still get a noticeable quantity of fat in the pan - I believe the fat content is by weight, so you can have a sizable volume of fat in comparison to the meat. But try it both ways!
heathrow
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC)
Brown food tastes good!
geekosaur
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:26 pm (UTC)
I've done both; the meat is always cooked (up to 12h on "low" which with my crock is enough to keep stuff simmering for hours; if anything, food gets overcooked) but if you brown it first it tastes a lot better.
mslivewire
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
This!
blueyz72
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Safety wise you are fine, and depending on the dish I never bothered if it was poultry. I have found I do like either browning, or in terms of making stock I roast bones and veggies, first because it adds much more flavor.

That being said I have a bunch of bones & veggies to roast so I can make beef stock today, perfect weather for it :)
pinkitti
Oct. 12th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
yes indeedy! I've always been intimidated to make my own broth for some reason, but I hear a crock makes it pretty simple. I'll have to put on my big girl panties, and just do it one day. haha.
blueyz72
Oct. 12th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
To be honest, even in a big stock pot it is pretty easy. Once you do it a few times and get the hang of it you won't be intimidated by it and realize how easy it is.

Today I'm using the stock pot, it's bigger!
neragainagain
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC)
We who live in 90+ degree Florida are jealous of your chilly weather so cut the weather comments!!!!!!Just kidding :).
crimedoc1
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
Seconds the weather comment - it's bloody October, it shouldn't be this hot, even down here!

I brown when I have time and inclination. It does help with flavor and with getting out fat. And it makes the meat look nicer, actually.

But to be honest, when I'm rushed or lazy and don't brown, everything comes out just fine.
blueyz72
Oct. 12th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
Lol, sorry...it just finally feels like fall and I get sick when it's humid so I'm feeling good and loving it. No more weather comments, back to cooking!
brenda_k_a
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
I have NEVER browned meat first. That said, I avoid recipes that specifically say you must brown it first. I use the crockpot because it is so fast & easy. Extra steps are for when you have time to cook. :) But I've never had lack of flavor issues either. Pot roasts come out beautifully for me without browning. For recipes that call for already cooked ground beef, I use vegetarian "beef" crumbles which come ready to toss in. In a crockpot dish you can't even tell it's not beef.
pinkcarmel
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
I've tried both ways and I always find the non-browned meat dishes to lack flavor and not taste as good. So I always brown my meat first...
geeksdoitbetter
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
for ground turkey/beef, i generally put the frozen chunk in and cover it with sauce/broth

then, leave it alone!

seriously, once, i went to stir it before it was cooked, and created this horrendous sauce infused with ground meat texture

if you leave it alone, the hunk o' ground meat will cook thru and then you can gently break it up with a fork

but don't try breaking it up before it's cooked!
hausfrauatu
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Ooooh! I'll have to try that. I always nuke and then crumble if I forget to thaw it.

Crockpotting on the edge!!!! :D
hausfrauatu
Oct. 12th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)
If it's a barrier to you cooking your own food, i.e. one more thing to do, just throw it in. With ground meats, they will cook up in bigger chunks, or in very small bits if there is a lot of liquid. Meat with a little less flavor due to browning is still much better for you than a restaurant meal or highly processed food that you make because you "didn't have the time to brown the meat."

If it's a meat like a roast that you are going to slice or shred, I don't bother. Long, slow cooking does a lot of good things for flavor.

So, it's nice to do if you want to, but it's not a safety issue. Also recipes that depend on browning for flavor aren't going to be great in a crockpot. Imperfect food is still delicious!
misskerri
Oct. 12th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
i have never put ground meat in the crock raw, mostly b/c i've never really thought of it, but now that i DO think about it, i don't think i'd want all the fat floating around in there.

what i do is buy ground beef in bulk and cook it and freeze it in 1/2 lb packages as soon as i buy it. then, when i am preparing meals, all i have to do is let it thaw enough (takes about 15 minutes in a sinkful of hot water) to throw into the crockpot or the dish i'm cooking. so i spend about an hour and a half once a month to pre-brown 6 to 8 lbs of ground meat, and then food prep is quick and easy the rest of the month. ;)
bellichka
Oct. 12th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
Browning the meat makes it even more delicious, but I tend to only do it with ground beef/turkey/chicken/pork. As far as whole hunks of meat, like a chicken breast or porkchops, I don't bother.

What you could do is brown meat ahead of time, then freeze it. I've done this before, and you can just defrost this and plop it in there. I have 3/4# unfrozen ground turkey that's waiting to meet its new friend Hamburger Helper :)
funkyturtle
Oct. 12th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
My opinion:

a) it's much less fatty if you brown it first
b) if it's ground up, it has less bacteria if you cook it first (I know you said bacteria is not an issue, but I can't think of a way that it isn't when you're dealing with ground meats - I'm just not comfortable if it hasn't been cooked first - maybe I'm paranoid.)
c) it tastes better

Specifically with ground turkey, I'd be doing it because of b) because I'm extra paranoid about birds and fish. (I'm also one of those crazy people that doesn't cook stuffing inside their turkey - but I have more than the bacteria reasons - if you put it inside, there is never enough.)

That being said, I almost never use ground meats in a slowcooker because of my "it must be cooked first" rule.

Unless you are easily made sick like me, you probably won't die by not browning, but it will likely taste better if you do.
drgaellon
Oct. 12th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Bacteria could never survive hours in a crockpot that's ACTIVELY cooking.

More reason to be paranoid about stuffing: it's awfully hard to get the center of the stuffing up to temperature. One suggestion: preheat the stuffing in the microwave, THEN stuff it in the bird. Also, make some loose stuffing in a dish, then combine it with the stuffing that comes OUT of the bird, that way it all gets the benefit of the juices from the bird.
funkyturtle
Oct. 12th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
I pull out some of the juices from under the bird while it's cooking (I flip my bird halfway through) and add it to the stuffing since the stuffing takes less time to bake than the bird. That way I get bird-juices in my stuffing without having to cook it in the bird.
drgaellon
Oct. 12th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Depends on the meat and your time. Fatty meats like beef, pork, and sausage should be browned to render out some of the fat. Other meats CAN be browned, which adds a TREMENDOUS amount of flavor, but isn't STRICTLY necessary.
slave_stasha
Oct. 12th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
You don't have to brown the meat first, for some dishes its a good idea for others not so much. I make a great beef stroganoff in my slow cooker with stew meat and I never browned the meat first turns out really dammed good every time!

Though if i were making chili, if time allowed I would definatly brown the meat first!
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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