Friday, 17 February 2012

Thermal Cooking

My Mum told me about these thermal cookers you can buy. You cook the ingredients of a casserole, curry, etc. on a hob for 15mins or so, then transfer the food to a thermal cooking vessel. These are essentially big thermos flasks, and keep all the heat inside. Leave it 5-7 hours, and the food has carried on cooking due to the trapped heat inside.

Nick and I both like slow cooking, but in a camper van it's not really practical to have something cooking over heat for hours. The thermal cooker seemed like a good substitute, however, they don't seem to be very popular  in the UK, are all too big for two people, and are quite expensive.

So... we decided to see if a normal Thermos flask could do it!

The flask was £20 and is 1.2 litres. For a first test, I made a pork casserole. Here's how it went.

135g pork (I used pig cheek)
Small onion
Small carrot
Small squash
3/4 pint stock
Tbsp of cornflower

First I chopped the pork and onion and fried these in a little oil. Then I added the chopped squash, carrot, stock and seasonings (salt, pepper, mixed herbs). I then mixed a little cornflower into a paste to add to the mix to thicken the sauce.

This was all brought to the boil and simmered for 10mins or so. In the meantime, the flask is temporarily filled with boiling water to heat up the chamber. 

The casserole is then transferred to the flask, and that's it! Put the lid on and leave for 5-7 hours.

We gave it 5 hours as we were hungry! The results?

Pretty good! The casserole was steaming when we took the lid off. We put it back on the hob for 10mins to bring back to the boil. The sauce was nice and thick, vegetables and meat cooked through. The pig cheek was still a bit fatty - possibly a leaner meat would be better. 

Definitely seems like a technique worth perfecting for life on the road! 


  1. Well done Em, very good lateral thinking getting the flask instead of the expensive dreampot!

    Pig cheek is awesome, might just have needed another hour!

    Do me a favour and give rice a try in it. On a ratio of two/one rice/water heat until it boils and then put in the flask. If it works, you might be buying yourself another Thermos so you can have a complete meal!


    Theres loads of recipes online Em and i have some books you can borrow too. When you get here you can try mine and see if you find it any easier to use. The biggest advantage is that you cook in the pots that then go striaght into the thermal cooker. Not sure its worth the extra money though! We use ours a lot at home too. I put the food in before i go to work and its all cooked when i get home. The thing most people worry aboit is if the temperature goes down too low to be safe but we always do what you did - bring it back up to heat on the stove for a few minutes.

  3. I'm going to try out lots of recipes over the next few weeks so we can see what works best!

    Yes I did think the dream pots looked like they would work better, but I couldn't see one smaller than 4.7l which seemed too big really for just us too.



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