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slow cookers that can be used stove-top, without nonstick coating

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  • jobug Aug 13, 2012 09:00 AM
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Hi all!

I've been reading through threads on ChowHound for years, and finally decided to join.

I couldn't find an answer to this in a past thread, but perhaps you could redirect me?

I'm really interested in getting a slow cooker that can be used on the stovetop to sear. But I really don't want a non-stick coating that could flake off. I've done a variety of searches, and am having trouble finding a model like that. Possibly the Hamilton Beach Premiere Cookware slow cooker, but even that seems unclear. It's advertised as cast aluminum, but it sounds like users have had a nonstick coating come off.

ETA: just realized this might fit better into the Cookware category.

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  1. The strength of non-stick coating required to support heat at a level needed for adequate searing isn't usually found on cookware below the VERY high end. Meat searing requires that the meat surface be continuously exposed to something in excess of 300°F. That means your pan must maintain a surface temperature somewhere around 325 degrees or greater and PTFE (Teflon) will break down at about 390°F (200°C) which allows a very narrow margin for error; it's all but impossible to control heat on a cook top to that degree of accuracy.
    Have you considered oven searing before progressing to the crock pot?
    Preheat your oven to a temperature that's about 100 - 125 degrees above the recommended cooking temperature for your meat. Put your meat in the oven for about 10 minutes before turning it over and leaving it for another 10 minutes. Then go to the crock pot.
    I use non-stick for crepes, eggs, sautéed dishes and other relatively low heat duties but I don't find it suitable for searing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      I feel like my post may have been confusing (it's hard not to use a double-negative with non-stick coating). I'm intrigued by the idea of searing in the slow cooker insert itself, but I really *don't* want a nonstick coating (because of the concerns you outlined). Most that I'm finding *do* have a non-stick coating, and I wouldn't want to purchase them.

      Perhaps it's a pipe dream to find a coating-free metal insert. :-)

    2. This is not a slow cooker option, but my cast iron dutch oven evenly distributes the heat enough that I can use it as a slow cooker. I have an ceramic stove top and one of the burners has a very low heat.

      I sear the meat in the cast iron, lower the temp, add whatever else I need to add, and let it slowly cook away for 6 hours.

      If I'm concerned about liquid loss, I'll put a cap of aluminum foil over the glass lid. Generally the cooking process produces more liquid.

      4 Replies
      1. re: PatsyWalker

        That's a good idea. I've been gazing at the gorgeous cast iron dutch ovens at our localish Lodge cast iron outlet.

        I do need to replace our current slow cooker, but one option might be a less expensive model with ceramic insert + a dutch oven.

        1. re: jobug

          I do have two cast iron Dutch Ovens, and they work well for many slow cooking options. However, it seems you want something that can work on stovetop and as well as for regular slow cooking on a slow cooker.

          I don't know anything fit exactly your description, but I might just have something very close.

          Thermal Cookers. What do you think? You can use the metal insert on stovetop for cooking, and when you are ready, bring the insert back to the thermal insulation body and it will maintain the heat for hour -- basically the slow cooking as a slow cooker, except you don't even need electricity at that point.

          http://youtu.be/UHgAkuU5tRc?t=40s

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yopJP7...

          There are tons of options on Amazon. Go look around.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Wow--I had never heard of these before! Very, very cool!

            1. re: jobug

              :) Yeah, they are pretty cool. The Zojirushi one I showed is the high end one and it has a great reputation for holding heat for a long time. On the opposite end, some people build their own pillow/wonder box. I have no idea how good it works.

              :P

              Anyway, here:

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF14Er...

      2. I just sear in a pan, deglaze, and it all goes into the slowcooker. Yes, it's two pans, but it works. I usually do the sear with a CI pan, so it is a simple enough clean-up.

        2 Replies
        1. re: wyogal

          Yes, that's what I usually do. Wondering if an insert might save a couple of steps, but if I can't find a non-nonstick one, then I'll probably continue doing that.

          Thank you to all of you for your advice, I really appreciate it!

          1. re: jobug

            I think your best bet is the combo... I don't use a dutch oven to sear, unless I am using it to cook in as well. I just take out a frying pan.

        2. Years ago, when 'Crock pot' was still a novelty, we got a slow cooker that almost met your needs. An enameled steel pot paired with a low power hot plate. After the hot plate died, I ended up using the pot as an all around stew, braising, and past pot. But after over heating it a few times the enamel started to flake, so it is now retired.

          That probably does not help, since I'm sure that model is long gone. Unless you are in position to pair a dutch oven of your choice with a low temperature heat source (stove on low, low oven, etc).

          1. They are not inexpensive, but you can use a Kuhn Rikon "hotpan" on the stove and then continue slow cooking in the insulated container. Not going to work if you need to cook for 2 days, but because the shape of the pan is more like an insert perhaps you could also find a slow cooker that would fit it too (or one significantly larger and use water around the pan).

            1. You need one of these (Morphy Richards model 48681):

              http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Ret...

              The good news is that they exist, the bad news is that they are no longer made, so finding one will be a challenge. There are currently 3 on ebay UK.

              They come with a non-stick pan, but you can use any pan you like (It's designed to heat the supplied pan of about 3qt so power wise I guess you might be restricted to say 4qt

              )

              My perfectly good pot was used by a builder to mix paint (!!!) so I now only have the base, but it's used a lot, often for keeping sauces or stews hot somewhere near the table.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robin Joy

                That's essentially the style of slow cooker that I had a couple of decades ago.

                1. re: paulj

                  Yes! Apparently Rival used to make a Crock Pot Versaware series that used stove-top safe stoneware (with a converter for electric ranges). But the series seems to have been discontinued.

              2. At this point, I'm wondering if one of the closest things to what I'm envisioning is a roaster that can double as a slow cooker, like a Nesco 6 quart. Without the bottom element, I couldn't sear, but I could roast for a bit then slow cook.

                Trying to re-envision what I had in mind. What I originally had in mind was something like a cast iron insert, but that doesn't seem to be something that's made or feasible.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jobug

                  Don't eat yourself up too much on this! As wyogal posted, how long does cleanup take for a searing pan? 3 minutes?

                2. A friend bought the $300. All Clad slow cooker with the non-stick stove top sear insert - within a month it cracked and blistered. I bought the Breville non-stick stove top sear insert three years ago , use it often, and it is as good as new. Sears beautifully, never a bad meal, clean up is a dream!