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Context

  • I am not convinced that wasting all the energy needed to heat an oven is necessary for replacing a slow cooker. A well-designed (thick bottom, continuing to heavy walls) pot on the stove would be enough, if only the low setting on the stovetop were low enough (sigh).

Question

Here I continue the previous questioning of the necessity of yet another device to occupy (countertop) space in one's kitchen, yet remain unused for much of the time.

Can the fifth "warming" element already on my stovetop act, when set to "high", as a slow cooker? What is the temperature for the "high" of a slow cooker and what might the temperature on "high" for the typical warming element be?

What prompts this question is that some of the slow cookers on the market are labeled "Entertainment System" and appear themselves to blur the line between a warming element and a slow cooker.

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    Slow cooker it typically not on temperature control. Rather watt control. Do not agree with your assertion "A well-designed (thick bottom, continuing to heavy walls) pot on the stove would be enough". Heat is is a small area and not up the sides. Kind of reads like a rant. – paparazzo Oct 28 '17 at 18:24
  • The first part of your post should possibly be a comment to the linked answer, and would probably net you alternative suggestions. As for your actual question, I don't know how it can be answered as there is no set or standard temperature correlating to a setting on a slow cooker. Nor do we have any way of knowing the temperature of the different settings on your warming element. – Cindy Oct 28 '17 at 18:39
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    I would be inclined to at the very least rephrase the "context" section. The "...stove would be enough" seems to be assuming that the answer to your overall question is "yes", which makes it seem a bit like you're not interested in answers to the contrary. – Cascabel Oct 29 '17 at 6:24
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Functionally, slow cooking isn't much different from braising or stewing; it's a low-heat, long-duration method, often with a lot of water. So no, a slow cooker isn't technically necessary. The exact temperature level varies from model to model of device and isn't all that important anyway; you can get similar results in a low oven (per the linked answer).

It's possible to get close on a low stovetop burner, but the heat you apply will come from the bottom of the vessel. Heavy cast iron is quite good at distributing heat, but will still develop hot spots at the bottom that can cause food to burn. An oven is better thanks to the indirect, even heating. A slow cooker heats using a very gradual electric element that reduces hot spots, combined with a thick ceramic container that distributes heat more evenly.

Another big argument in favor of the slow cooker is its safety. A small, low-wattage, self-contained electric element is generally less likely to fail catastrophically than a gas oven or burner. A slow cooker can be left running unattended for multiple hours, which is more than I'd say for my cooktop. Being able to start dinner, leave, and have it ready when you return home is useful, and has contributed to the ubiquity of these devices.

If counter space is your concern, there are always options such as so-called multi-cookers which can be used in various ways, including slow cooking. I own one and use it multiple times weekly.

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