To Brown or Not to Brown


This was a recent topic of discussion around our house this weekend and I wanted to get some outside opinions on the subject:

When cooking in the slow-cooker,
do you do any pre-cooking or just toss everything in and let it go?

My position is the toss and go side of things. Frankly, I think after 8 hours of cooking everything is nice and tender as is and any browning that could have been done is rendered unnoticeable.

Todd, on the other hand, will frequently saute the onions or brown the ground meat or roasts before loading up the slow-cooker. A lot of recipes call for this and he’s not the type to deviate from instructions.

I won’t deny that browning–the caramelization of sugars–enhances flavor and appearance in most dishes. But I also think that the biggest boon to using a slow-cooker is that it simplifies meal preparation and allows plenty of flavor to develop while cooking low and slow for several hours. Plus, if I have to dirty a frying pan in addition to the crock, that’s double the large dishes to fit in the dishwasher–the perfect slow-cooker meal involves the cooker, a cutting board and a knife. Maybe  a measuring cup, too.

So, where do you sit on the issue? Curious kitchens want to know!