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Best Cuts for Crock Cooker Meals

by Leanne Ely

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It's supper time. The smells coming from the kitchen have been making your mouth water all day. Your family is seated around the table, bellies grumbling.

You remove the lid from your slow cooker and your heart sinks. The moist and tender meal you'd been planning on serving has turned into a stringy mess. The slow cooker has ruined your meal! Or has it?

Don't blame the appliance! Chances are that you just didn't choose the right cut of meat. Some cuts of meat simply can't stand up to the long, steady heat of a slow cooker.

How do you know what meats are best for your slow cooker?

Look for the less expensive, fattier cuts because lean cuts of meat can't be cooked for long periods of time without getting stringy and tough.

The least expensive cuts at the market have enough fat in them to keep the meat moist while the slow cooking breaks down the tissues for tender results.

When you're cooking beef, look for shanks, shoulders, rounds, and rumps.

If it's pork you're cooking, you're also looking for shanks and shoulders.

Few cuts of lamb will hold up to slow cooking, except for the shanks.

Bone-in chicken thighs and breasts are better for the slow cooker than boneless cuts are. Remove the skin before you put the chicken in the slow cooker because otherwise you will end up with rubbery skin and nobody wants that.

As a final tip, remember to brown your meat first when you add it to the slow cooker for greatly improved flavor as a result with the exception of chicken. Chicken doesn't need to be browned first. Doing so may actually cause you to overcook it. And now you know!

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular, FlyLady.net, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. SavingDinner.com. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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