Staub La Cocotte vs a crockpot
What I'm going to write might be heresy, so just take it with a grain of salt. I have never had a crockpot (no space), but I do have Staub and Le Creuset, which both work very well, but here's the kicker: I got lazy last week and threw 4 pounds of short ribs into my All Clad roaster and threw them into the oven without browning them! (Preheated oven and pan, salted and floured the ribs; after they got hot, threw in wine, herbs, and chicken stock, and covered.)
Bingo! They tasted just as good as the traditional method of browning in LC first. Maybe I'm getting old and losing my tastebuds, but give it a try and compare.
Short answer; yes.
In order to get the desired effect and truely make it a braise, then the meat must first be cooked in such a way (browned) that the enamel or earthenware material of the crock pot crock will not allow.
HOWEVER...I have used a pan to brown meats, etc., transferred those meats to the crock pot and then deglazed the origional pan to get those browned bits that are so vital. It is a little more work but has the same end result. If you have a good heavy duty pan then you should be just fine.
re: Ernie Diamond
I have never had a problem with getting a good rich browning in my enameled Le Creuset. Everything browns up like a charm. I prefer the LC because it is a pot that I can brown in and then braise without getting 2 pans dirty. I wonder why you feel browning is not possible in enameled cast iron?