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Jun 18, 2009 05:12 PM

Stove instead of crockpot

I'd like to try a crockpot recipe except I do not own one. I do have a large pot and an electric stove. If I put my stove burner on its lowest setting, is that equivalent to using a crockpot? Or will I end up over-cooking everything?

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  1. I think you'd be better off in a 250 degree oven.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Hmm, never tried that. I have no idea if my pot is oven-safe. The lid and pot handles are rubbery/plastic, the lid itself is glass, but we're only talking about 250 deg. Would the cooking time be the same?

      Why do you suggest this over the stovetop, more even heat? Would the stovetop be too much heat? I suppose it may conserve some energy with the oven turning on and off vs the stove top being on the entire time, however it has to heat a larger area.

      1. re: lmbgm

        I've made a heat diffuser for my stove top by making a *donut* of aluminum foil. It's been very effective.

        1. re: c oliver

          A cast iron pan underneath a stock pot works well as a heat diffuser also, but the oven method is likely more effective.

          From a cost perspective, a crock pot is cheap and energy efficient. It does take up space, but has a permanent spot on our counter as I use it throughout the year, minimally for making stock.

    2. Let me share this Will Owen recipe/technique:

      You will NOT be disappointed.

      1. make sure your oven is the correct temp by using an oven thermometer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: alkapal

          i use a crockpot only as a chaffing dish for keeping cooked food warm during a party. we do all our slow cooking in the oven. this provides a chance to brown/braise in the same vessel. i understand that a few high end crockpots now offer stove-top-friendly inserts--but see no reason to go get one.

        2. I think it would be helpful to know what kind of recipe this is.

          5 Replies
          1. re: cassoulady

            Well, I was going to try an italian beef recipe I found. If that works out, I'd might try some other stuff. I've made pot roast and beef stew on the stove before. I recall the beef stew recipe was a crockpot recipe and it came out a little overdone.

            I figure a crockpot is just a pot with an electric heating element on the bottom. Therefore, I would think that a pot on an electric stove is pretty much the same. Except I have no idea how the lowest setting on my stove compares to the heat output of a crockpot. Or how it compares to an oven.

            1. re: lmbgm

              There must be non-crockpot version of IB on the web. I'm sure the commercial establishments in Chicago don't use crockpots. Most likely they use ovens and restaurant roasting pans, possibly with foil covesr. And steam tables for keeping the sliced meat hot in the sauce.

              1. re: paulj

                that is true but I still would like to know the answer to my original question

                1. re: lmbgm

                  I don't think there is a clear answer to this.

                  I had one of the original brand crockpots. I took it apart, and found that it just consisted of a few wraps of heater wire around the sides of a ceramic bowl. I don't remember the wattage, but I'm guessing several hundred watts.

                  Another had a fast and slow setting. If I recall correctly these two straddled the other in cooking times. A third one that we got, was an enameled steel pot (essentially a deep dutch oven) and low heat hot plate. With less thermal mass this pot warmed up faster than the ceramic ones.

                  The other big unknown is how hot is your burner on low (or warm). The temperature of the oven a 200 or 250 may be better known. Still, both of these provide this amount of heat right from the start. The crockpot supplies a lower level of heat to a pot that slowely absorbs it (without loosing a lot to the air). The heating pattern is totally different, so you can't neatly compare one to the other.

          2. Based on my experience with the crockpots (3) that we got as wedding presents, I think the distinctive feature of such a pot is its slow heating time, not so much the final temperature. The basic model is just a ceramic bowl with a few strands of heating wire wrapped around it.

            If you put cold meat and other ingredients in a cold pot, it may take 6 hrs for it to reach a slow simmer. In contrast, if you sear the meat and brown the vegetables in a dutch oven, and then add the liquid, the dutch oven and contents are at that simmer point the moment you put them in a slow oven.

            Either way, most of the braise (slow simmer) takes place over the remaining 3 hrs or so.

            Most crockpot recipes are adaptations of stews and braised items. So if you are familiar with that style of cooking, it should be trivial to reverse the adaption. I think main thing is to lop off that long warm up time. I'd try the same ingredients, but check the pot every hour or so. Obviously don't do this when timing is critical. The stew might well be ready in 3 hours - or it could take 6.

            Another way to put it - borrow the ingredients and proportions from the crockpot recipe, but follow a conventional braise or slow simmer recipe as regards to timing. And be prepared to adjust liquids as you go along.