Top positive review
Now my primary cooking method
August 10, 2013
UPDATE: The cord is 44" long. It is not retractable or detachable - it lays on the kitchen counter.
UPDATE: Yes - it is Made in China
UPDATE: No - you cannot use the insert on top of the stove nor in the oven. The insert has stay-cool handles made of hard plastic. The insert is aluminum, not ceramic, and is Teflon coated. I've had both type of inserts and definitely prefer the aluminum/Teflon insert - lighter weight & easier cleanup.
UPDATE: No - there is no delay timer of any sort. You cannot, for instance, set a timer to cook on high for 1 hour, then drop to low for 4 hours then drop to warm to keep the food at a safe temp. Nor can you set a delay timer to start cooking at a future time. The closest there is: you can select high, low, or simmer slow cook and set the number of hours up to 24. At the end of that time it will automatically down select to warm to stop "cooking" the food but keep it at a safe temp. Every time you open the lid, add 15-20 minutes to the recipe cooking time.
UPDATE: Slow cook temps are HIGH = 212 degrees, LOW = 200 degrees, SIMMER = 185 degrees, WARM = 165 degrees. Saute temps are: default is 350 degrees, programmable from 140 degrees to 400 degrees in 25 degree increments.
UPDATE: The entire instruction & recipe booklet is online at Cuisinart's web site in pdf format. Search for manual "MSC-600". I read the instructions and many of the recipes myself before I bought the unit.
UPDATE: Q: "Will this unit really "brown" meat well? (i.e., as in browning meat for a pot roast or browning beef chunks for stew?)". A: Yes, very well. See the saute temps elsewhere in my review. It has a large sort of oval shaped saute heating element underneath the insert which provides more than adequate heat for saute. However, if you put 5 pounds of stew beef in there all at once it is hard to brown it - just like a skillet but better temp control in increments of 25 degrees. Many of the recipes tell you to brown large quantities in shifts and remove the browned items before adding more - I use a left-to-right (raw-to-brown) rotation method to do that.
UPDATE: Do not cook chicken breasts in a slow cooker - it dries out the breasts. Read the manual. UPDATE Jan 2014: Contrary to what others here have told me here, I agree with Cuisinart, put the chicken breasts in the oven, not the slow cooker - better quality and faster.
UPDATE: After 13 months, here are my current observations as of January 2014:
I have not had the problems others have had with the electric panel on the front. I have had no odd things go wrong with the electronics of this item. So far so good.
I have not had the problems others have had with being unable to turn it back on once you turn it off. I have waited a few minutes to let it cool down first then start it back up like advised and have had no problems. I mean I wait maybe two minutes not 30 minutes. Not a problem for me.
This thing takes up space - lots of counter space and storage space. Wasn't a surprise though - I had visualized it with a tape measure and it is every bit as big as expected on the counter top for sure. But that's how you get the 6 quart capacity. UPDATE Jan 2014: Keep your old 3.5 quart ceramic crock pot for smaller meals, this 6 quart unit is too big for cooking 2-3 quarts of food (although the manual says "at least 1/3 full" it seems too big for 2 quarts of food to me).
I am a single guy who can't cook, doesn't like to cook, and I love this slow cooker. Years ago I had the standard 3.5 qt round 'crock pot'. Then branched out to the new stainless steel ones - 3 different sizes. Hated them, too hot to touch or move. Gave them all to Goodwill - including my old trusty ceramic one (sigh!). I missed my slow cooker so went on another slow cooker hunt. Decided on this one and I am very pleased with it.
I use this as a slow cooker for sure. But also use it to stir fry, saute, and sear/brown. Really like the fact that you can brown in this and immediately add the other ingredients for slow cooking. I like the depth of this to keep the grease from splattering around the kitchen as much. Even though it's just for one I like the capacity. Once I got this and started using it I got on Amazon and also ordered the Reditainers for fridge and freezer storage along with the freezer tape. I like having the digital temp on the front for very accurate temperatures. The low heat and high heat temps seem perfect to me on the slow cooker. The super hot stainless steel things I had before were either not hot enough (low) or way too hot (high). I think Cuisinart got this right on this model. Read the manual and understand the temps for high, low, simmer and warm and what they are for (and not for). Duh - read the manual!
So far I have made tomato soup (very rich/earthy flavor), hot and sour soup (OMG!), stuffed bell peppers (8 large or 10 small), chicken stir fry, steamed corn on the cob (4 full ears or 8-10 half ears), and a bunch of other stuff I don't remember.
From the Williams-Sonoma "Essentials of Slow Cooking" cookbook I also bought on Amazon, I have made: Beef Stroganoff(!), Italian Braised Short Ribs, Pot Roast w/ veges, Belgian Beef Stew, Asian Braised Short Ribs(!), and Chicken Mole (disaster, tossed this one). I intend to try Jambalaya in it and do something with Mahi Mahi steaks as well but I haven't tried any seafood in it yet. UPDATE Jan 2014: Yep, it makes great Jambalaya. Internet search "Crock-Pot Solutions" for perfect pre-mix quantities for this 6 quart unit. I recommend the Jambalaya and Chicken & Dumplings mixes.
Ooops: If you fill the thing full it will overflow once it reaches temperature. You must leave space for it to expand - do not under estimate this. Also, if you put it on saute to get the heat going it will very quickly overflow with a little explosive force as the expanding juices break the seal around the lid to escape - that was a mess to clean up all over the kitchen and had to take the bottom off the unit and clean the insides. One design flaw it seems - if it overflows the vents are wide open with no drip line design so it catches all the juices running down and takes them directly inside the unit. Dumb design - the vents need a drip line (flared vents) to prevent this. But I haven't made this mistake a second time. Do...not....over....fill! You can make up to 24 cups in this thing if you fill it to the max.
The 'loose' fitting lid is NOT a problem. Steam goes to the top, drips down the lid and creates a seal all the way around the top of the unit where the lid sits. The 'loose' fitting lid works perfectly.
Although the lid and the insert are dish washer safe, the lid is simply too big for the dish washer, let alone the pot. I use the dishwasher for everything - except for this. It's simply much easier to just wash it by hand and put it in the dry rack. It cleans very easily because of the Teflon and is much lighter to hold than the ceramic inserts were.
I have had no problem with the Teflon coming off or bubbling - I have no scratches yet. I use wooden spoons to stir and move things around, and carefully use metal prongs to turn meat over. But I have been very careful to not scratch it so far. I also follow the instructions and do NOT put the insert in the oven nor on a the stove top and my Teflon is not coming off nor is it bubbling anywhere. My Teflon looks like it the did the day I got it. I also do NOT run cold water into the insert when it is still hot.
I prefer my rice cooker/vege steamer for steaming veges other than corn. But I've purchased Risotto and plan to learn how to make it and plan to use this slow cooker on saute to do it. That way I can learn the exact digital temperature that works and repeat the success. Then expand to many different versions of Risotto. I like the digital read out since I don't have that innate cookers sense of temperature. You can up the temp in increments of 25 degrees for saute.
Read the instructions to understand how to use the digital panel - couple of things aren't intuitive but easy once you get the point.
Yes - I recommend this slow cooker and I have had and used many over the last 30 years. This slow cooker plus the Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooking cook book on Amazon makes me feel like I can cook. UPDATE Jan 2014: I haven't touched the Williams-Sonoma Slow Cooking cook book in 6 months.