Unlike stove top or oven cooking you can walk away from a Crock-Pot or other slow cooker for hours, without worrying about your food burning or being ruined. One way to make a slow cooker even more useful is to cook convenience foods in it, such as boxed julienned potatoes. Using a slow-cooker approach means you'll have hot, tasty food the moment you and the kids get home without turning on the oven.
Boxed Julienne Potatoes
The term "julienne" refers to the way the potatoes are cut: small, thin strips, much like match sticks. With boxed packages, this tedious cutting chore is done for you by the manufacturer. Boxed potato mixes often provide you with dehydrated potatoes, as well as a cheese and seasoning packet that will flavor the side dish. If your boxed potato mix can be cooked in the oven, it can be cooked in a slow cooker.
Besides the ingredients provided for you in the box of packaged potatoes, julienne potatoes usually require you to add water, milk and butter. Once you have made the dish once or twice, consider tweaking a recipe to personalize it. For example, add chicken broth instead of water, or sprinkle additional seasonings, such as a ranch seasoning mix, on the potatoes for additional flavor.
Place the boxed ingredients into the slow cooker first. Because slow cookers do not bring liquids to a boil, bring your liquids to a boil before pouring them over the other ingredients; this aids in re-hydrating the potatoes and melting the powdered cheese mix. Reduce the amount of water slightly, as there is little evaporation in slow cooking. You can always add a little more hot milk or melted butter later, to make it moister or cheesier. Don't open the slow cooker to stir, as this will just slow down cooking time.
Depending on your slow cooker, you will need to significantly increase cooking time. Most boxed potatoes require less than 30 minutes in the oven or on the stove top. This amounts to approximately 4 hours in a slow cooker set on low, and it might take a little longer if you are doubling the recipe or using cold milk. If you want to start the cooking early, turn it from the "low" setting to "warm" after 4 hours; this will keep your potatoes hot and cheesy for another one or two hours until you are ready for dinner.
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