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Poor man's slow cooker?

  • User1 May 21, 2014 11:01 AM
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Hello all,

I tried to search online for something, but have come up blank so far. Has anyone done something on doing a poor man's slow cooker? I don't really want to buy a slow cooker cause they are mostly used for cooking meats, and the last thing me or probably anyone needs to do is eat more meat. I just have a few recipes that call for a slow cooker and would like to try them out. I'm thinking I could just cook in a regular pot and keep the temp or flame really low. Is it really that easy?

Another reason I don't want to pick up a slow cooker is I hate to buy stuff and it just accumulates! There's only one reason I would buy one and that's if it doubles as a rice cooker. Also it needs to be for 1-2 peeps.

Any ideas or words of advice will be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Sure you can cook slow in a pot either stove top or preferably in a low oven. Just search online for common crock pot cooking temperatures The beauty of slow cookers is that they require minimal monitoring. My advice is go to a tag sale & get one for $5.00. You'll find plenty of meatless recipes for them online.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zackly

      This. They are at yard and estate sales - seldom over $10. I pick them up for nieces/nephews regularly. I just scooped out delicious cooked black beans - some for tacos, some for 'moros y christianos', some for bean soup.
      Soaked overnight, next day in the pot w/onion, garlic etc
      Uses very little electricity, no heat in the kitchen, safe from burning - Beans are a much more regular part of our dinners, very little or no meat. Slow-cooker makes this very easy.

      Top-of-stove pot? I have several cast iron/enamel but this puts out no wasted heat, safe to use over-night. Ive done braised cabbage and potatoes, lots of veggie stews plus meats sometimes - but usually, lentils, white beans, garbanzo/chick-peas, black-eyes, field peas.

      i guess rice would work but I don't use it for that - pretty simple other ways. I baked sweet potatoes in the cooker - use it to serve lots of hot soups, gumbo and gravy at pot-luck and holiday dinners - no worries about burning, holds heat. When empty I add water, cover heat for a few minutes, nothing sticks and quick to clean. Thats alot for a $5 item and another I got from my MIL.
      I bet you'd like it.

    2. Use a dutch oven in your oven.

      It will likely taste better, too

      3 Replies
      1. re: C. Hamster

        Le Creuset is the rich man's slow cooker I believe ;)

        Appreciate the conversion chart below. I have never owned a crockpot, but I do see the occasional recipe I want to try.

        1. re: foiegras

          LC sells lovely Dutch ovens but so does Lodge which are considerably less expensive.

          I bought one at goodwill for. $1 about 10 years ago :-)

          1. re: C. Hamster

            I got my Lodge DO from Costco, about the same price as a slow cooker. I love it for no knead bread.

      2. I found this handy conversion chart a few months back. I like slow food but have no desire to own a slow cooker.

        http://www.cookingincastiron.com/file...

        1. Costco sells a rice cooker/slow cooker combo.

          I start things on the top of the stove in an ovenproof Dutch oven and then move to a 250 oven, covered.

          1. dutch oven placed in your regular oven on low heat will braise much like a slow cooker - low, slow and covered -

            if its more about spending $ than clutter you can find a crock pot super cheap at a thrift store which will also do the same thing

            the main benefit of the slow cooker over these the electronic clock so you don't have to watch it - set and go

            apparently some rice cookers have slow cooker settings now too but I don't know the brands

            not sure what slow cookers have to do with meat per se- all in how you use it -

            1. Go to a Thrift store or Goodwill and pick one up for cheap.

              I have an old Rival from my mother- love it because it does smaller jobs.

              Slow cookers are for EVERYTHING!!

              I don't leave anything on my stove if I'm not home, and using the oven for hours wastes money and can heat up the house.

              Slow cookers operate for pennies, compared, and can be left for hours.

              1. I use my slow cooker for cooking meat perhaps 1% of the time...many non-meat applications for it!

                Of course you can cook the recipes on the stove or in the oven. The beauty of a slow cooker is flexibility, easy to clean, no worry about exposed heat source, doesn't heat up the kitchen - I'm sure there are more.

                I'm a solo cook with a small kitchen. I have two slow cookers and they earn their keep just in making chicken stock!

                1. A dutch oven gives you the same results but don't use the same recipes. A dutch oven allows more liquids to evaporate. Plus most slow cooker recipes are terrible where you just dump in ingredients and let it cook. The only advantage for me (and I'm a big fan of the slow cooker) of the slow cooker over a dutch oven is that you can leave the house and come home to dinner. If you have recipes you want to use, I'd share them here and ask for ways to update them for the dutch oven. OTOH, if you don't have a dutch oven, they're about the same price as a slow cooker. The oven works better than the stove top for me because heat comes from all sides and not just on the bottom but the stove works fine.

                  1. I have the Costco Rice/Slow Cooker/Steamer. It does it all. And it works great. Here's a link to the model I have: http://www.aroma-housewares.com/kitch...

                    Quite often I cook rice in the bottom and put veggies in the steamer basket (I use a coffee filter so the veggies don't fall through the holes onto the rice). Works great. Also doubles as a slow cooker and the heat is variable as well as is the timer. And it's fairly inexpensive. I've had mine a couple of years now and still going strong. And just FYI - there are only 2 of us as well.

                    1. Just buy a slow cooker. They're cheap, they have a myriad of uses, and the big crock is awesome for roasting stuff in the oven. Being enameled all that cooked on roasted stuff just cleans right off.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Zalbar

                        And I would guess they use far less energy than using a dutch oven in your oven would & super easy to clean too. Try to get one where the ceramic insert comes out for easier cleaning. I make whole grain pilaf with mine.

                        1. re: zackly

                          Not to mention the cost of running the air-conditioner to cool the house/kitchen when using the oven in warmer months.

                          In fact I think my mother bought her first slow cooker in the 70s for exactly that reason--energy/cost savings.

                      2. Slow cookers aren't just for meats. They are great for making chicken stock, soups, baked beans, pasta sauce, even certain desserts. Vegetables do fine in them, eg a big pot of green beans and new potatoes. The great thing about them is you don't have to watch them. You shouldn't leave home with a flame under a pot on the stove, but you can leave your slow cooker cooking all day while you are at work. My son when in college always took one skiing with him and it made chili while he was on the slopes, an alternative to paying high resort meal prices. Being only 1-2 people is no problem---freeze your extra spaghetti sauce or minestrone.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Querencia

                          also good for keeping mashed potatoes warm at pot lucks, big meal holidays, buffets,etc.

                          1. re: betsydiver

                            They are great "warmers" if you entertain or bring foods to functions. Every Thanksgiving I heat a spiral sliced ham in a crock pot because there's not enough oven space. I use a Reynolds Cooking Bag for this. I use another crock pot to heat up the gravy base that I've made days before. I must own ten slow cookers ranging in size to one pint to a tabletop roaster that can hold a large turkey.

                        2. Low end slow cookers are dirt cheap, but if you are only cooking vegetables and could use a rice cooker, there may be one appliance intended for both. Perhaps one of these:

                          http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/...

                          1. Thanks for the replies. The recommendation for using the oven would be great in the winter, but being in SoCal, there's really no incentive to heat the place up other times.

                            I looked at rice cookers recommended and looks like all of them, the smaller ones that I would like, don't do slow cooking. I don't think "keeping warm" is going to do slow cooking. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

                            I guess I'm just going to track down a slow cooker.

                            If anyone has any sites on doing slow cooking that concentrate on something other than meats, please do share!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: User1

                              The rice cookers which are described as "steamers" should steam vegetables. Here is a link to an instruction manual which shows how a rice cooker is used as a steamer:

                              http://www.useandcaremanuals.com/pdf/...

                              1. re: User1

                                Here's a well reviewed one on Amazon:
                                http://www.amazon.com/Proctor-Silex-3...

                              2. Pressure cooker > slow cooker
                                Though a good one is not cheap, but they can be had for as little as like $50-$75, great for all kinds of grains, soups, stews, veggies, meat etc.

                                Also, thanks for eating less meat.

                                1. Rice, legumes, grains, all can be cooked with a crock pot. It is especially useful for grains/legumes that take a long time to cook:
                                  http://www.food.com/recipe/perfect-cr...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: zackly

                                    Sure, you can do it in a crock pot, but you can do it faster and better in a pressure cooker.

                                  2. 1) Buy a slow cooker... from a Thrift store or new.
                                    2) MAKE SURE the crock is removeable.
                                    3) Enjoy!!

                                    I'm not sure why you are worried about "just for meat."

                                    Here are 50 Vegetarian recipies:
                                    http://ohmyveggies.com/50-vegetarian-...

                                    And here are 35 Vegetarian/Vegan:
                                    http://www.wisebread.com/35-slow-cook...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                      Right about thinking a crockpot has a meat or veg slant.
                                      They are universally wonderful.

                                      OP- there are tons of threads on slow cooker recs on CH.

                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                        If one is interested in vegetables and not meat, the difference is whether you want them steamed or cooked crock-pot style intew a stew. A slow cooker is not a steamer.

                                      2. An oven can keep a lower temp than most stoves can.

                                        1. The only significant advantages a slow cooker has over a covered oven-safe pot in a low-temp oven are that it is portable, that you can still use your oven for something else while using a slow cooker, and that a slow cooker is more energy-efficient. If you don't need any of those advantages, then there's no need for a slow cooker.

                                          25 Replies
                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            Ah, the slow cooker won't heat a kitchen (which makes the slow cooker energy efficient on 2 levels), which is a concern of the OP, and most people are more comfortable leaving the house with the slower cooker on than an oven.

                                            1. re: monavano

                                              Understand the heat issue, but do people really have a problem with leaving the oven on all day while away? I do it all the time in the winter.

                                              1. re: rudeboy

                                                That's my impression.

                                                1. re: rudeboy

                                                  I have a gas oven and never leave it on with food in it when I leave my house. I'm always afraid that if I can't get home (car accident, medical situation), for many hours I may start a fire or create a bad smoke situation. I realize this is a remote possibility. I also don't like to leave any major appliance on that creates heat like a clothes dryer or dishwasher.

                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                    I've know people that have run an extension cord so that they can leave the slow cooker outside in case something happens. Understandably, people don't want to burn down their own houses! Even though everything is UL listed,

                                                    Let's just pool our $ together and buy the OP a slow cooker and kill this thread. Hell, I'll ship mine to him if the wife will let me!

                                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                                      Then some poor slow cooker, maybe even a vintage Rival CrockPot, will not get a new kitchen to make people happy, and will continue to languish on a Thrift store shelf, just waiting for its "forever home".

                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        My sister has one of those. The orange one, and it still works. Just think, the inventor got rich and sent his kids and grandchildren through college based on this.

                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                          I have my mom's old Rival- it's got an herb theme.
                                                          I love it!
                                                          I even have inserts for making breads and cakes.

                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                            I think I see it:

                                                            https://www.google.com/search?q=vinta...

                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                              Wow, what a great collection of photos!

                                                  2. re: rudeboy

                                                    I wouldn't do it.

                                                    1. re: rudeboy

                                                      I have a friend whose oven caught fire. Luckily they were home and could take care of it before the house caught on fire. I asked some firefighters once (any chance to talk to firefighters...) and they said they wouldn't recommend it. I never asked about crock pots, though. I'll have to go looking for more firefighters.;)

                                                    2. re: monavano

                                                      "Ah, the slow cooker won't heat a kitchen (which makes the slow cooker energy efficient on 2 levels), which is a concern of the OP"
                                                      ______
                                                      Very true and a good point.

                                                      "and most people are more comfortable leaving the house with the slower cooker on than an oven."
                                                      ______
                                                      Perhaps so, but I doubt it's actually any less dangerous to leave a slow cooker on than a low-temperature oven. *shrug* Some people are scared of thermonuclear radiation from their microwaves too.

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        It has nothing to do with a microwave, and do what you want.
                                                        My impression remains the same, and I prefer to not leave the house for hours when the oven is on.
                                                        Moreover, the savings adds up if leaving an appliance on all day- a 6-7-quart slow cooker, or my 30" oven.
                                                        The math is easy for me.
                                                        YMMV.
                                                        There isn't any right or wrong, so no use in debating further.

                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                          Can you share the math? And are we talking about an electric slow cooker vs a gas oven?

                                                          1. re: rudeboy

                                                            The math? Google the cost difference between a slow cooker and electric oven.

                                                            The cost savings plus the fact that I love how it cooks food plus my peace of mind are the factors which sway me.

                                                            Again, there's no right and no wrong, so that's about all I'll say on this topic.

                                                            Peace out.

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              OK, If you have an electric oven, then it might make sense. I have a gas oven, so 500 watts all day might not be the cheaper option to natural gas currently.

                                                              FWIW, here's a telegraph article comparing slow cookers to electric ovens, which supports your hypothesis, monavado.

                                                              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/pe...

                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                          I've never met anyone who thinks there is "thermonuclear radiation" from a microwave. I don't know many people who even know what "thermonuclear" means, and even I don't know what you mean by "thermonuclear radiation."

                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                            I was writing - in a fairly offhand manner - about people who confuse the ionizing radiation from, say, a nuclear bomb with the non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation from a microwave. If you want to find examples of people confused over this distinction, google is your friend.

                                                            Back on topic, if you have any evidence or justification for the belief that leaving a modern oven on at low temperature is any more dangerous than leaving a slow cooker unsupervised, I'm all ears. That was the original point - that not all kitchen risk assessment is correct.

                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                              "Modern" oven? We have cheap ranges in my condominium that are about 20 years old, so not ancient. Someone here had an incident in which it hers didn't ignite with the gas running, so it filled wirh gas then ignited and blew the oven door off its hinges. Even if I know it is burning when I leave, it could go out. Gas appliances are supposed to shut off the gas supply when the flame is lost, but electric and mechanical devices are subject to failure. Leaving the range off is safest.

                                                              There is not much that can wrong with a slow cooker, by comparison.

                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                Well, I have an old Chamber's gas stove, so there's some room to have error!

                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                  Your oven would qualify as 'modern.' I was only trying to exclude a few variables that don't apply to most people.

                                                                  As for oven doors blasting off their hinges... sounds kinda low incidence to me. Also, would being in the kitchen provide any real assurance against that kind of malfunction? You might be better off out of the house when it happens.

                                                                  Speaking of low incidence catastrophes, keep in mind that electrical fires also happen.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    Being in the kitchen, I can check the oven to make sure it ignited (which I do), and if the gas runs for any significant amount of time without being lit, I can smell it.

                                                                    What I really want to do is replace this range, but I've been having some problems on that score.

                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                            Yeah I would never leave my gas oven on and leave my place. I like being as efficient as possible with heating and cooling here. I barely have to turn on heat in the winter or cooling in the summer as I'm ~2 miles from the coast. But cooking with the oven as has been suggested does appeal to me for winter cooking.

                                                            1. re: User1

                                                              Lucky you!
                                                              We have our heat on in the winter and AC on in the summer.
                                                              There's time between seasons that open windows and a fan will do, but not long enough!

                                                        3. Every sizzling hot summer, I get curious to make and experiment with a solar oven.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Tara57

                                                            You are turning me on, Tara. Tell me more.

                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                              I haven't tried it yet! My post was poorly worded. I am curious about solar cooking, but I haven't taken the plunge. There must be some use for the blistering summer heat.

                                                              1. re: Tara57

                                                                I have a friend that has one that he made from some kit - you can produce good food from it. I'm going to start another thread.

                                                            2. re: Tara57

                                                              +1, saw this being demoed at a recent Earthday celebration and really interested in building one. Got a good rooftop and think I could make it work well. BTW, I have no back or front yard where I live.

                                                            3. I recently got an InstantPot made by a Canadian company that are very well reviewed across the net.

                                                              It's a rice cooker, slow cooker and pressure cooker all in one. It also steams and does some other things like make yogurt or congee.

                                                              Best thing I've made so far in it is pressure cooked bananas (http://www.chefsteps.com/activities/p...

                                                              )

                                                              I started a group for it at http://www.reddit.com/r/instantpot if you're interested in learning more.

                                                              I like the rice much more than in my little $25 jobby that the teflon was wearing off of. I figured if I was going to replace that might as well bite the bullet and get this. Was mostly interested in the pressure cooking and rice, but the slow cooking is a bonus for me too.

                                                              1. User1 - I'm in SoCal and somewhere I have a slow cooker that never gets used. You are more then welcome to it if you want it. Just let me know.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Aussieshepsx2

                                                                  Meet for lunch!

                                                                  1. re: Aussieshepsx2

                                                                    Thank you for your offer Aussieshepsx2. Being that this cooker in question only cost ~$10, it would be rather difficult to make this cost effective. Even if you were in LA. Some people can't even get out of their driveway for less than $10!

                                                                    I wish you the best and I'll keep your offer in mind.

                                                                    Thanks again.

                                                                  2. I don't use my slow cookers much for cooking, but they make excellent chaffing dishes for casual social gatherings. Soups, chili, bacon wrapped smokies, stuffed shells etc keep warm without the fuss.

                                                                    1. You can cook anything you do in a slow cooker on the stove, or in the oven, but you will need a different recipe. Stove top generally takes significantly less time than slow cooking.

                                                                      I got a slow cooker about a year ago, and found it less useful than I expected.

                                                                      Pros

                                                                      - uses less energy than oven method
                                                                      - can be left unattended
                                                                      - doesn't heat up the apartment as much (I live in a subtropical climate).
                                                                      - with a gas stove and no oven, low simmer is hard to achieve via other methods.
                                                                      - it gives me an extra cooking unit (my stove only has two burners)

                                                                      Cons

                                                                      - timing is difficult. I can't leave it to cook when I go to work (which was my hope) because it hopelessly overcooks pretty much everything over 10 hours, even on the low setting. But even on high, it doesn't cook fast enough to be much use during the week without eating at midnight.

                                                                      - dishes tend to be soupier than stove-top versions, because of the lack of evaporation. I find that even just the juices from the meat and vegetables do this, with no added liquid.

                                                                      - it's a bit of a challenge to find recipes that taste good, rather than that generic slowcooker food taste.

                                                                      I do actually prefer it over stove-top for rice porridge, cooking dried beans, and stewing pork belly.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                        Good synopsis. For the first "con", I find that a slow cooker w/ a timer is a must. Mine turns down to a good temp for warm but I lucked into it. My previous one burned food on warm. On dishes that soup it, it does help to fold a doubled towel below the lid and that catches the evaporation, but takes more time to cook. Yeah, I'd say 90% of recipes out there are terrible, especially that 365 days of crock potting or whatever it's called blog. But, as with any kitchen tool, knowing how to use it to its best capacity is key. It's one of the appliances I'd replace immediately if it broke. We're gone afternoons, come back in time for late dinners so it's perfect for me.

                                                                      2. A slow cooker is likely cheaper than any alternative you can find. They come in all sizes, so a small one would do you just fine.

                                                                        Eat more meat.

                                                                        1. You could try a wonderbag,

                                                                          http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Wo...

                                                                          A wonderbag is basically a super insulated pot designed to help poor people in places like Africa. The idea is to heat up a pot to boiling for 1/2 hour then take off the heat and wrap in insulation. Let it set for 2 -3 hours and everything is cooked. saves lots of wood in the 3rd world.

                                                                          You could do it with a cast iron dutch oven. Heat it to boiling for 1/2 hour then put it in a box lined several inches of styrofoam then more styrofoam on top. Then seal the box and leave it alone for 3 hours....a poor mans slow cooker, literally! As a bonus, you can claim you are bonding with your poor sisters in Africa.

                                                                          For a real show stopper, you could heat the dutch oven with a solar oven.

                                                                          Now, it would probably be easier and cheaper just to pay $15 for a crockpot at a garage sale.

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                            That's a wonderful idea! I backpack and cycleback and think something like this would work great while traveling. One thing most campers would have is insulation not being used all day!

                                                                            1. re: User1

                                                                              If I were camping, I would use a cast iron dutch oven with a really good lid and dig a hole for the fire. Let it burn down to coals. Put the dutch oven in the pit on top of the coals and bury it in dirt. Dirt is a excellent insulator. 2 - 4 hours later, just dig it out. Dinner is served.

                                                                              This would work. It is made to have coals layed on top. The lid will seal and not move.

                                                                              http://www.target.com/p/stansport-cas...

                                                                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                I was thinking of something where the user is in constant movement.

                                                                                BTW, I went to a little demo on dutch oven cooking at my local REI store yesterday. They showed an oven that was about the size of a 6" sub and stated that it is made for the backpacker. They didn't have any for sale at the time, but looks interesting!

                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                  This would be car camping? I can't imagine hiking 20 miles into the woods w/ a cast iron dutch oven!

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    Well the presentation was more geared towards car campers and traveling with family. I did a little searching for the backpacker that wanted a little dutch oven and there is options out there!

                                                                                    http://www.snowpeak.com/cookware/dutc...

                                                                                    That's not a bad little setups!

                                                                                    1. re: User1

                                                                                      I would probably just use reynolds heavy duty aluminum wrap. Not environmental but so much easier.

                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        slightly more environmental if you reuse...

                                                                            2. The problem here is that the OP hasn't stated, exactly, what it is he wishes to cook, other than rice.

                                                                              1. A poor man's slow cooker is a regular slow cooker. They are often under $15 and sometimes cheaper.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                  Yup- Target, Walmart, K-Mart etc.

                                                                                2. I didn't realize slow cookers were for the one percent.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                                    Why, I believe the Kardashians use them to melt wax ;)

                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                      Nothing else can Rival ...

                                                                                      :-)

                                                                                  2. If you're going to go for a slow cooker, I would recommend trying to find an older one at a thrift store. The newer ones cook hotter than the older units did, and this really makes a difference for some things that I want to make. I got a great slow cooker at a thrift store that is almost as old as I am (I'm 30). It was still in the box and even had all the original manuals and such. It has a removable crock, and a much better low and high temperature than my more modern ones.

                                                                                    I use my slow cooker all the time, but you do have to be careful with slow cooker recipes and look for the good ones. I find that in general, the less ingredients a slow cooker recipe has, the more likely it will be good.

                                                                                    1. I would recommend a programmable unit. You can set them to cook for a specific amount of time then keep warm when complete. I have two of these.
                                                                                      http://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beach-...

                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: zackly

                                                                                        Yup, that's mine.

                                                                                        I LOVE it.

                                                                                        I made a *huge* batch of cacciatore yesterday and the house smelled like heaven.

                                                                                        'Low" settings aren't what they used to be, but this HB slow cooker will let food go for hours and hours and not overdo it.

                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                          I wish I could find a slow cooker with a thermostat not just Hi-Low-Warm settings. one where you could set it on, let's say, 400 for one hour then 275 for two hours then finally 130 for another hour? Anyone know if a slow cooker like this exists?

                                                                                          1. re: zackly

                                                                                            Roaster oven.
                                                                                            prep meal-place vessel in oven.

                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                              I want to able to have this done when I'm away from home. Like a Ron Popeil set it and forget it device.

                                                                                            2. re: zackly

                                                                                              Some have a probe which is inserted in meat to ensure that it reaches a safe temperature. You can't set a slow cooker at a particular temperature, because it's a gradient. Where would the temperature be taken? Inside the crock, it's at 212 °F when the water boils.

                                                                                              What you need to do what you want is an oven. These are readily available.

                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                What do you mean by "oven"? A regular full sized oven or something else, perhaps tabletop?

                                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                                  Anything which can maintain an even air temperature surrounding the thing to be cooked is an oven. Slow cookers are not intended to replace ovens.

                                                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                                                    A roaster oven:
                                                                                                    \http://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beach-...

                                                                                                    If it doesn't have a timer function, buy a cheap timer and set it.

                                                                                                  2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                    It could be done but would have to be measured @ the heating element. I'm not necessarily talking moist cooking, I'm talking cooking a brisket or pork butt slowly after a "kick start" at a higher temperature, then holding @ a lower temperature.

                                                                                                    1. re: zackly

                                                                                                      Measuring the temperature at the heating element would give you a high temperature, not a cooking temperature. An oven has a large volume of air which can be brought to a stable temperature. There is no chamber in a slow cooker comparable to this, so it is a meaningless comparison.

                                                                                                      If you want to cook a thick piece of meat in a sliw cooker, the probe attachment is designed for this. It is stuck in the meat and it reports the internal temperature.

                                                                                                  3. re: zackly

                                                                                                    For cooking in liquids, you can keep a very precise temperature using a PID unit. You plug the slow cooker into it, insert a probe into the liquid, and the PID regulates the temperature of the liquid down to a degree or two.

                                                                                                    For monitoring air temperature, you might be able to modify a slowcooker to manage this, but it's probably easier just to use an oven. If you're worried about leaving an oven on below ~300f while you're away from home (I see no major reason to, but to each his own), an electric roaster oven would probably work:
                                                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...

                                                                                              2. Can you tell whether those recipes really require a slow cooker? My impression is that many slow-cooker recipes are just adaptations of regular ones, especially braised ones. Either that or they are dumbed-down dump-and-plug recipes.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                  One can do a decent braise with a foil tent in a slow cooker.

                                                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                                                    Why the foil?
                                                                                                    My slow cooker drips back down onto the food and braises beautifully.
                                                                                                    I actually had the most reduction of a sauce making osso bucco in my Le Creuset, which was surprising (and a little scary as it was made with $$$$$ veal and was for a dinner party!).

                                                                                                2. Hi User1. As mentioned elsewhere in the thread, the slow cooker is available in many second-hand/thrift shops throughout North America. My new CrockPot brand, with warranty, was under $30. I can cook rice, congee, beans, vegetable stew; oh, and meat.
                                                                                                  The main advantages, to me, of using a slow cooker are:
                                                                                                  * use small amount of electricity/energy, relative to a gas or electric range, or oven
                                                                                                  * can remain unattended for several hours
                                                                                                  * doesn't take up a burner on the cooktop :)
                                                                                                  * low-temp, even heat; I don't need to stir or pay much attention.
                                                                                                  Something to consider: try using a slow cooker, and if you don't like it, sell it?

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                    You can always donate it- they don't stay on Thrift store shelves for long.