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Archive for the ‘THERMAL COOKERS’ Category

This article comes from a site run by two very good friends of mine in Australia, Allan & Lindi Rush. They sell the Shuttle Chef thermal cooker. Their site is Thermal Cookware and I read this with interest some time ago. The Cobb BBQ that is referred to in the article is the one used by the “Hairy Bikers” who have had a number of TV programmes on BBC in UK.

Thermal cooking with Cobb

With the increasing numbers of areas that now have bans on open fires it is becoming harder to cook like we used to.
We have been asked by many customers about the possibilities of using the Cobb Cooker that they already own to cook meals in their Shuttle Chef.

As we are also proud owners of a Cobb Cooker we have been experimenting during a recent camping trip with excellent results.

We had intended to prepare a lunch of Roast Chicken to feed the hungry crew and wanted to also prepare a Beef in Red Wine casserole for the dinner later that evening.

Using the normal process we started the Cobb Cooker with eight heat beads and, when they were fully functional, we placed the Shuttle Chef inner pot directly on to the Cobb over the heat bead basket.

Using a small amount of oil we fried the onions and then browned the meat, adding the vegetables, stock and red wine. This, we then stirred a few times while it came to the boil. Then, we popped on the lid and left it simmering without the Cobb dome for about 20 minutes.

The simmer time could have been less but it was 20 minutes before we thought of checking the meal again – this extra time didn’t matter at all for the Thermal Cooker.

We placed the Shuttle Chef inner pot into the Stainless Steel vacuum insulated outer container and closed the lid, trapping the heat inside to continue the cooking process until we were ready for our evening meal.

As the heat beads were only just underway we were able to then put on the cooking tray and place the Chicken with the Potatoes, Carrots and Pumpkin around the bird and then closed the dome lid.

Needless to say we all enjoyed an excellent Roast Chicken and vegetables lunch, served with crusty bread and gravy. This was suitably toasted with an excellent Margaret River chardonnay.

Later that evening, after a long bush walk and a hot camp shower, we were able to sit down to a delightful Beef and Red Wine casserole, served once again with crusty bread to soak up the abundant juices. This meal required no more preparations, and was toasted with a tasty Merlot from the Hunter River region.

The combination of the heat provision from the Cobb Cooker and the slow cooking properties of the Shuttle Chef mean that you can now travel very light. This method required no gas stove and alleviates the worry about fire bans or the lack of a fire pit facility as you can prepare delicious hot lunches and an evening meal at the same time.

The evening meal can even be left in the outer container while you are travelling to your next destination as the Shuttle Chef will keep the food nice and hot (well above food safety standards) for six to eight hours.

It is an excellent and essential combination for the environmentally – concerned gourmet camper or traveller.

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This graphic is used with kind permission from Sinnport

The modern thermal cooker uses the concept of the hay box where by placing hay or straw around a cooking pot of heated food the meal continues to cook without fuel.

In the mid 1990s the thermal cooker developed in Asia. It consisted of two pots, one within the other. The inner pot made from stainless steel was used to bring the food up to the boil and the outer, twin walled with a vacuum between the walls, was used as the container to keep the cooking process continuing.

These cookers had a particular appeal to Cantonese cooks from Guangdong in Southern China where many dishes require prolonged braising or simmering.

To use the thermal cooker the food is put into the inner pot and brought to the boil, simmered for about 10 minutes and then placed in the outer pot for continued cooking.

There are a number of thermal cookers on the market. Some use insulation material between the outer pot walls, others, like the Mr D’s Thermal Cooker use a vacuum.

Thermal cookers with two inner pots (one above the other) allow you to cook two items at the same time, such as curry and rice. All thermal cookers are capable of cooking many dishes from soups to puddings. Cakes and bread can also be cooked by partly submerging the cake/bread tin in boiling water.

The main benefits of thermal cooking

  • You only need to spend a short time preparing the food in the morning to have a hot meal later in the day
  • You save up to 80% in fuel costs
  • There is hardly any smell of cooking when using a thermal cooker
  • The food can never be overcooked
  • All the vitamins, nutrients and flavours are kept in the pot
  • You can adapt most slow cooker recipes to work with the thermal cooker
  • The cooker can be taken with you and will continue cooking without power. Ideal to transport cooking food in a car, a caravan, a boat or a motor home. You can even take it with you camping.

How does it work? – Simply place your prepared ingredients in the inner pot and heat on a stove.
After it comes to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Turn off heat and transfer the inner cooking pot, with the lid on, into the insulated outer container and shut the lid. That’s it.
The heat is retained and your meal will continue slowly cooking for hours until you are ready to eat.

How hot will it keep food? – Due to excellent insulation, there is only a heat loss of 3-4 degrees C per hour.
This leads to the same effect as gently and slowly cooking your food for hours, but without constant attention.
After 6 hours, food in the Shuttle Chef  will still have a temperature around 70 C. providing the inner pot is 75 to 80% full. 

Points to remember when cooking thermally

1. The system only works effectively if there is adequate heat developed within the cooking pots and food to be cooked.

2. To last the longest period and still be above food safety temperature the inner cooking pot needs to be 75 to 80% full and to have been at simmering temperature for the required period (this is to ensure that everything within that inner pot, including the pot, has reached the highest temperature)

3. Do not freeze the inner cooking pot as it’s constructed of a special sandwiched ply base with dis-similar metals for maximum heat and cold retention and they will expand and contract at differing rates. However you can certainly chill the inner pot in a refrigerator.

4. You can keep foods, such as butter, cheese & cold meats, chilled for an extended period by placing ice cubes (in a sealed plastic bag) in the bottom of the inner pot with the food on top.

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