A non-electric thermal cooker uses an inner pot to hold partially cooked food and an outer pot to seal in the heat. After you cook food in the inner pot on a traditional stove or a camp stove, you seal the inner pot inside the outer pot to complete the process without a heat source. With a thermal cooker, you can cook foods such as teriyaki chicken, beef stew, casserole-type meals containing meat, vegetables and even large cuts of meat, such as a beef roast. Use a thermal cooker when you're on a road trip or any time you need a portable cooker.
Soups and stews, such as beef-vegetable soup or beef stew, are the simplest dishes to prepare when you are learning to use a thermal cooker. Because the inner pot should be at least 2/3 full and the food should be covered with liquid, making a soup or stew allows you to add more water, broth or stock as needed. The extra liquid also helps to prevent sticking or burning when you boil the food for the required time before sealing it inside the outer pot. In general, boil a soup or stew for about five minutes before removing it from the heat source.
Prepare one-pot meals in a thermal cooker by combining meat, pasta and vegetables. For example, brown ground beef or ground turkey in the inner pot on your stove top. Add elbow macaroni and canned tomatoes, with enough tomato juice to cover the food, and boil for five minutes. Seal the inner pot inside the outer pot. Chicken cutlets, bow-tie noodles and carrots are a tasty, kid-friendly dish for a thermal cooker, as well. You don't need to brown the chicken. Put it into the inner pot with uncooked pasta and the carrots, and cover the food with liquid. Boil the food for five minutes. Add a thickener to the liquid, such as cornstarch or flour, before sealing the inner pot inside the outer pot.
Rice is ideal for thermal cooking because its preparation begins in the usual way, on your stove top. Rather than simmering it after it begins to boil, add meat and vegetables. Boil the mixture for several minutes, then put the inner pot into the outer pot. Use packets of seasoned rice for extra flavor in dishes such as chicken and rice with mixed vegetables. Make Spanish rice with browned ground beef, rice, onions, spices and tomatoes.