I was gonna wait until I got my Panini grill (tueday I think) before I stopped by and gave everyone a report of my success and/or failures but I was browsing around the net, stopped in here, and saw this post... Looks like I can finally add something that *might* be of value.
You KNEW I couldn't stay away didn't you :)
I had the same experience with the Nesco type roasters... the smaller ones, 6qt for example, heat on the bottom (normally okay I guess) but they won't replace a crockpot 'cause their thermostat clicks on and off.. for example when you set it at say 250 degrees, it might heat to 275, then let the temp drop to maybe 225 before it kicks on again... I needed the slow even temperature of a crock pot, so I bought a crock pot and put my 6qt Nesco in the garage...
Then I noticed the same thing you all mention about "steaming" with the larger Nesco type ovens... btw they heat on the sides and NOT the bottom.. and they work great for making something tender but the water condenses on the lid and drops back on your food.. so it won't brown anything...
The solution (for me) was to get this 12qt Nesco .. QVC was the ONLY place I could find one with the "convection fan" thing... I think Nesco might have stopped making them, not sure.
IF 12 quarts is big enough for you...it thankfully is for me... with the fan running it WILL brown a chicken or beef roast... not as brown and crisp as you'd get in a regular oven.. but it turns out brown and for me is the best of "both worlds".. I get the "steamed" tenderness of the roaster oven and browning for flavor.
The one I got is here: http://www.qvc.com/asp/frameset.asp?...p;SearchClass=
Item #1762 at the bottom..