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Stovetop clay tagine cooking -- can I heat to a simmer without a diffuser?

I love my clay Le Souk cooking tagine, but have only been cooking in the oven with it because I couldn't get it hot enough with the diffuser for a good simmer - but was I just too impatient waiting for it to heat? (I have never used a diffuser, and I'm scared of all the warnings that range top cooking will crack it.) I have a Viking stove. Does anyone else with a Viking (or similar) cook a CLAY (not metal enamel) tagine on the stovetop and get a simmer going without a diffuser? (Or with one?) Thanks!

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  1. They clearly state on low heat preferably with a diffuser.
    That said of coarse the heat needs to be high enough to simmer the ingredients. With my Wolf I use a diffuser and because of the power of the range would not do so with out one.

    1. I have used cheap Chinese clay pots (sand pot) and a Spanish cazuela on a portable gas burner without a diffuser. I start these with a low flame, and increase the flame as the pot warms up. Once the contents are bubbling, I have to turn the flame down as low it will go.

      1. thanks. chefj, how high a flame do you end up with when you get a simmer over the diffuser?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kate Cortesi

          Not to cute, but one that keeps a very low simmer. It changes with what is in the pot and the quantity.

        2. I'd say follow the manufacturers recommendations.

          I've only used a diffuser when I've cooked on electric coils with my unglazed rifi tagine. My other tagine is Emile Henry flameware and I've used it directly on gas burners and electric ( both coil and glass top stoves). Just start low and gradually raise the heat.

          1. I've found that (with a diffuser) starting low with electric coil elements and slowly moving up can result in the clay pot not coming to a boil for a couple of hours. So I start at medium, and move it to medium-high to high shortly afterwards. If there are solids in the pot in addition to liquid, the pot comes to a boil much faster. But once it does start boiling, then I turn the heat way down.

            1. Yes. I don't know what is a Le Souk cooking tagine, but traditional tagine can and should able to handle open flame. People have been cooking with clay tagine for centuries.

              1. Clay Tagines no matter how pretty, or elaborate, do not last.

                I would switch to an authentic Couscoussier, or a metal (iron or stainless steel) tagine.

                Yes, you will pay more, but it will do the job and last.

                1. Thanks for the feedback, folks. I used it twice this weekend, with the diffuser, and just moved it from med-low (15 min) to med, brought everything to a nice simmer, with no cracking or breaking and both meals were a success!

                  Thanks for your thoughts and lending me a bit of courage.

                  1. Kate - may I ask where you bought your Le Souk? I cannot find a sourse. Thanks

                    1. Are you in New York? I bought mine in Downtown Brooklyn, Atlantic Ave, just off of Court Street at an adorable (pricy, though not by NYC standards) A Cook's Companion.

                      http://www.acookscompanion.com

                      I think I saw them advertised at Williams Sonoma and Le Souk itself has a US warehouse (on the West Coast). Here is their website.

                      http://www.lesoukceramique.com

                      Be sure to get a cookable one and not a serving one if you want to cook in it.

                      A while ago, I noticed some older customer reviews complain about the pot arriving broken when they ordered from Le Souk directly, but then others say that problem seems to be fixed and they arrive in great condition. If you buy one, remember that there's an over night process to prepare it, what's called "seasoning" the tagine. There are simple enough directions on the website, but it's important not to buy it the day of your tagine dinner party!