We are often asked about suitable thermal cooker recipes for our Billyboil (also known as a 'thermo cooker'). Unfortunately, there are hardly any thermal cooker specific recipe books on the market. And those that do exist aren't very inspiring.
The good news is you can cook just about anything in our thermal cookers. And using a thermal cooker is very easy. Even so, 'thermal cooking' does take some getting used to.
In this article, I'll show you how to turn any recipe into a thermo cooker recipe. It should save you some experimentation upfront, and you'll soon be a thermal cooker convert!
Quick Recap: Thermal Cooker Parts
Here's a quick recap on what a thermal cooker is and how they work.
Our Billyboil Thermal Cooker has two main parts:
- The inner pot – which is similar to a normal stainless steel saucepan. You can use this 'like usual' on your existing stovetop (gas, electric, induction, or camp stove) for the initial heat-up phase.
- The outer pot - which is a vacuum insulated container for the inner pot. After your food has been heated through, place the inner pot inside the outer pot and close the lid. This will allow your meals to keep cooking for free using retained heat, for up to 12 hours.
This simple process allows you to reduce your cooking energy consumption by up to 80%. It also saves time, prevents you from burning or 'boiling over' unattended food, and is a much safer way to cook.
BillyBoil Thermal Cooker Parts.
Thermal Cooker Recipes - Step 1:
Cover all ingredients in liquid or sauce for effective heat transfer.
The thermal cooker relies on the 'retained heat' of the food inside the inner pot to do the cooking. As such, to ensure effective heat transfer, you should cover the food inside the pot with sauce or liquid. You may need to adjust your existing recipes slightly to ensure the food will cook well inside the thermal cooker.
Most recipes already have enough liquid in them, so no adjustment is required.
On the other hand, some recipes that require 'simmering' may need to use less liquid. Usually, these recipes would rely on some of the sauce being 'boiled off' during the simmering. Keep in mind that this will not happen inside the thermal cooker as it is completely sealed.
Stews like this mushroom 'beef bourguignon' make for a great thermal cooker recipe.
TIP: For anything simple like rice or risotto, make sure you use the 'absorption' method. The absorption method will already have the right amount of water specified for this type of cooking.
You can always take a hybrid approach when creating thermal cooker recipes. For example, you can still put the inner pot back on the stove at the end. This may be necessary to reduce or thicken a sauce for some recipes.
Thermo Cooker Recipes - Step 2:
Heat all food thoroughly, before placing in the thermal cooker.
This is the most critical step when using a thermal cooker.
Once taken off the stove, the food can only continue cooking at the average temperature of all ingredients. So, if the water or sauce is boiling, but the food has only just been placed inside, it might still be at a much lower temperature. The lower the temperature, the less likely the food will cook effectively.
Bring all the food in the inner pot up to temperature together. Then, let the ingredients boil for a couple of minutes, before placing the inner pot into the outer pot.
An exception to this is large pieces of meat or vegetables, or if some ingredients were frozen when you started. You need to make sure these cook in the inner pot for longer to ensure they are thoroughly heated.
In summary, use some common sense (or a food thermometer) to make sure all food inside the inner pot is heated through before placing inside the outer pot.
Curries - such as this Dal Makhani - are another dish that is very well-suited to thermal cooking. Our Billyboil Thermal Cooker allows for all that flavour infusion, but without the energy usage (or hassle) of hours-long cooking.
Thermal Cooker Recipes - Step 3:
Leave food inside the thermal cooker for around 1.5 times the normal recipe length.
The food inside the thermal cooker effectively cooks at the average temperature of its insulated contents. This average temperature does drop off slowly over-time. As such, you will often need to extend the cooking time of a regular recipe slightly.
The rule of thumb I like to use is one-and-a-half times the standard recipe's cooking time. But the real thermal cooker 'magic' happens if you leave the food in for even longer. In this way, you can use the Billyboil as a zero-energy slow cooker to cook delicious meals.
Bear in mind that after about 12 hours, the temperature inside the thermal cooker may drop below 60˚C. For food safety reasons you should keep food above this temperature. So, if you happen to leave food inside the thermal cooker for very long, ensure you give it a quick reheat on the stove before serving.
Thermal / Thermo Cooker Recipe Inspiration
I mentioned above how curries and stews make for great (easy to adapt) thermal cooker recipes. If you're looking for further inspiration, search for your favourite recipes along with keywords like slow cooker or one pot.
And don't forget you can cook the basics in a thermal cooker too. Like pasta, rice, or a side of vegetables. For this reason, many of our customers end up buying two units: the 3L thermal cooker for the sides and the 4.5L thermal cooker for the main dish.
Want to find out more? See our innovative Billyboil Thermal Cooker.