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I somehow ended up acquiring not one but two tagines recently. Unfortunately, I have neither a gas nor charcoal stove (the ideal cooking surfaces for tagines, AIUI), only a smooth glass cooktop.

I've already tried using the W-S tagine, with a heavy cast-iron skillet as a makeshift heat diffuser. It worked out okay — the dish turned out great, but it took forever to cook, much longer than previous times I've cooked the dish using a cast iron Dutch oven. In the end, I had to turn the heat to high so that the dish would finish in a reasonable amount of time. This also resulted in stripping the seasoning from the skillet, which I'd rather avoid every time I want to cook a tagine.

Is there a better way to use a tagine on a cooktop?

Should I be using some sort of heat diffuser (which variety?), or can I place the tagine directly on the burner, and just keep the heat low? I'm hesitant to try the latter: both tagines have a small rim around the bottom, so the area of direct burner contact would be very small.

Should I give up and just stick to using the tagines in the oven?

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I really hate to see you use up all your reputation on a bounty (and barely have enough left to upvote!), especially given that your question was quite well-formulated. I hope you at least get the information you need! If you end up figuring things out on your own, please do post an answer yourself. –  Jefromi Feb 16 '12 at 1:09

4 Answers 4

My name is Tom Wirt, with Clay Coyote Pottery. I'll try to shed some light on the intricacies of clay cooking pots, especially tagines.

You can use any flameware tagine directly on the glass stovetop. This includes, Emile Henry, Le Crueset, and Clay Coyote flameware. These are pots with either a metal base (Le Crueset) , or a type of ceramic called flameware (Emile Henry, Clay Coyote which is formulated and made to take direct heat.

Normal stoneware clay pots and earthenware pots will not do this. Stoneware should never go on a direct heating source, gas, electric or glasstop. It will crack with or without a diffuser.

Earthenware ceramic pots, typically identified by a reddish clay color and some absorbency by the bare clay (typically the bottom), do need a diffuser and should be started over a low heat. They can crack if used over sudden or too high a heat. Remember that these pots were originally used over charcoal fires.

Metal, obviously is fine.

The flameware ceramic pots, are designed for direct heat and are actually especially good on glasstops as the top spreads the heat better than electric or gas. Clay is a insulator, not a conductor. Thus the heat doesn't spread much, but, with a highly liquid food like a tagine, the liquid spreads the heat. Basically a tagine is cooked at a simmer, even though the pot would take the heat. Induction stoves require a metal plate with ceramic cookware to turn the electromagnetic force into heat.

You can find more info on my blog.

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How do I know whether my tagines (Williams-Sonoma and Mason Cash) are flameware, stoneware, or earthenware? –  Matt Ball Feb 21 '12 at 16:09

It looks like your standard advice is to use a diffuser.

The need for a diffuser when used in conjunction with any electric cook top seems pretty universal across all tangine material types while browsing other manufacturers sites.

Diffusers come in various materials ranging from tin, to steel, to aluminized steel, and cast iron. The Nordic steel diffusers are recommended by not only the Williams Sonoma link (on the page), but also a vendor that sells the Mason Cash tangine.

Exception: Take note that some tangines have a "footed base for heat diffusion." If the one you used on the cast iron has a footed base it is possible that it took so long because you were double dodging the heat.

For the Williams-Sonoma, under the "Use & Care" tab:

For the Mason Cash:

In general:

In my researching it seems pretty unanimous despite the merchant, manufacturer, or material that you should be using a diffuser on the stovetop, gas or electric. Whether you "can" get away with not using one because it is "heat resistant", my advice is to not risk exploding ceramic shrapnel in your face.

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I do see the heat diffuser recommendations, though the recipe author mentions using a Le Souk Ceramique, not Mason Cash, tagine. There's also no real mention of anything specific to electric cooktops. –  Matt Ball Feb 15 '12 at 18:29
    
Revised, mixed up recipe with a comment below it. There was a vendor that said to only use it on the hob with a diffuser. Every manufacturers site says to use a diffuser with electric –  mfg Feb 15 '12 at 23:06
    
@MДΓΓБДLL I have added 1 manufacturer's recommendation, 2 vendor's, and a third resource that reviews tangines; in my researching it seems pretty unanimous despite the merchant, manufacturer, or material that you should be using a diffuser on the stovetop, gas or electric. Whether you "can" get away with not using one because it is "heat resistant", my advice is to not risk exploding ceramic shrapnel in your face. –  mfg Feb 16 '12 at 16:14
    
It's a little hard to tell from the pictures alone, but it looks like the OP's second tagine, the red one, might have a footed base; if you can confirm that by examining it more carefully (or better yet, if it's mentioned in the packaging) then that one might be okay on the stove. The first one, the hand-painted one, as mfg says, explicitly says you need a diffuser, or just to use the oven (which would probably be faster). –  Jefromi Feb 16 '12 at 16:22
    
@Jefromi The Mason Cash (the second one) appears to be the 1.5 qt referenced in the first quote directed at it (and linked), but in purple The merchant makes no mention of a foot akin to the Emile Henri exception. –  mfg Feb 16 '12 at 16:38

It sounds like your cooktop might be an induction range. All the tagines I've ever seen were earthenware, so I wouldn't expect them to work at all -- you'd need some sort of metal plate such as a heat diffuser or your skillet to heat up and transfer the heat to the tagine.

There are other kinds of smooth cooktops, but you'd probably know it if you had one that would work with your tagine.

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It's not an induction range; sorry if that wasn't obvious. It's just a "regular" glass-ceramic cooktop, like this one. –  Matt Ball Feb 11 '12 at 21:18

I'm Barbara Wilde, from the webside www.frenchgardening.com, where I've sold clay cookware for about 12 years. I also do about 75% of my own cooking in clay pots from all over thw world, including many tagines. You definitely need a heat diffuser. However, if your cooktop is a glass INDUCTION top, I wouldn't recommend you try using clay pots on it with the adaption clips sold for regular cookware. The only way to do that might be to put the adapter on a steel flame tamer, and put the claypot on top of that.

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