Chicken and pork absorb flavor well and become wonderfully tender after spending a few hours in a slow cooker. Since chicken requires cooking to a higher temperature to eat safely, combining these two meats in a slow cooker may be a concern. As long as you stay mindful of food safety practices, you’ll have no cause for worry, regardless of which meats are combined.
About Slow Cookers
A valuable timesaver among home cooks for its convenience and ability to turn a few ingredients into a tasty meal without much fuss, the slow cooker takes on chef duty while you’re at work or play. This appliance generally cooks foods at a lower temperature than a stove, but they still heat between 170 and 280 degrees Fahrenheit. Given that these cookers stay hot at that temperature for several hours, meat that is properly added to the crock shouldn’t have any trouble reaching safe eating temperatures.
Because slow cookers heat at relatively low temperatures, thaw the chicken and pork completely before adding to the crock. This helps bring the meat up out of the temperature danger zone (40 to 140 F) more quickly, leaving less chance for harmful bacteria to grow. Cutting larger chunks of meat into smaller pieces and heating any broth or water before adding to the crock can also help get your chicken and pork up to temperature. Cook pork to a minimum of 145 F and chicken to 165 F. When combining the two in a slow cooker, aim for the higher temperature.
When possible, start cooking on the highest setting for the first hour and then turn to low. If leaving the crock unattended from the get-go, it’s best to keep the setting on low throughout. Unless checking for doneness, refrain from lifting the lid during the cooking process. This can drop the cooker’s internal temperature 10 to 15 degrees and increase cooking time up to 30 minutes each time you do.
Leftovers and Storage
Store leftovers in smaller containers and refrigerate within two hours of serving. Do not cool leftovers in the cooker, since this can delay cooling time, potentially leading to food-borne illness. Use the oven, stovetop or microwave – not a slow cooker – for warming leftovers, and heat them to 165 F before serving. Slow cookers can be used for serving leftovers, but it’s best to preheat the cooker first and then add properly heated food for service.
Nikki Jardin began freelance writing in 2009 and focuses on food and travel articles. She has been a professional cook and caterer for more than 20 years. She holds a degree in environmental science from Humboldt State University.