The secret to the most flavorful, tender meat from a slow cooker just might be butter. Shocking, right?
Abby Durlewanger (aka @houseofketo) said she discovered her now-popular "butter meats" cooking technique several years ago when she first started following a low-carb, ketogenic diet. Durlewanger wasn't a fan of fatty chicken thighs, but needed a way to "fatten up" the lean proteins she enjoyed to fit into her keto lifestyle.
So Durlewanger, who is also responsible for the viral "twisted bacon" technique of twisting bacon strips before crisping them up in the oven, turned to butter for some help.
"I thought, 'What if the butter is my (slow cooker) liquid?' and decided to try it one day while I was home to watch to make sure I didn't burn my house down," Durlewanger told me.
Her home stayed standing, and she was left with meat slow cooked in a mix of its own juices and butter. Lots of butter.
When Durlewanger shared her idea with the members of her online community, the technique took off. Years later, followers of her blog and social media accounts continue to tag her in images of their own buttery creations, and the blogger frequently shares updated how-to videos on the method.
To make butter meats, Durlewanger suggests lining a slow cooker with a plastic liner then placing in a half stick of butter. After putting whatever kind of meat you're craving on top, add the other half of the stick. From there, season the meat, set it and forget it.
I recently tried Durlewanger's method with a chuck roast and although it took about 12 hours (yes, 12) on high for the meat to finally become tender and pull apart easily, the wait was worth it.
After lining my slow cooker, which Durlewanger recommends to keep cleanup simple, and adding Kerrygold butter, I seasoned my roast with garlic powder, salt and pepper before topping with more butter and letting it hang out on my kitchen counter all day.
The meat was ready to eat after six hours on high, but since I was going for soft, buttery, fall-apart meat, I let my roast bathe a bit longer in the slow cooker.
In addition to making a delicious dinner, the leftovers from the three-pound roast has served as lunch and was made it into a second dinner, where we seasoned it for beef tacos.
Durlewanger said that's the beauty of butter meats.
"When you're saving the meat for meal prep, it often gets dry, but cooking it in butter and allowing it to sit and soak causes the meat to stay moist," she said. "The butter re-solidifies and melts again when heated, keeping the meat tasting like you just made it. Nobody likes a dry, three-day-old meal-prep."
The keto blogger also said seasoning is key and suggested not committing to a heavy seasoning profile during cooking so the meat is more versatile throughout the week.
"I like doing my base seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder," Durlewanger said. "This means we can season the meat a bunch of different ways throughout the week and use it in different recipes: Monday, I can make it taco night by adding some other flavors and on Tuesday, we can go Italian by adding a different layer of flavor."
When it comes to what types of meats to make using the butter meats method, Durlewanger said the sky is the limit.
"We do boneless chicken and bone-in chicken, which is really cool because the meat just falls off the bone," she said. "You can literally pull the bones out of the crockpot and you are left with just juicy meat."
Durlewanger also cooks all cuts of beef and pork in her slow cooker with butter, as well as ground meats. But the magic of butter does, of course, have its limits.
"I do not recommend any seafood because you don't want to cook that long at all," she said.