For a more effortless and secure experience on our site, please consider updating your browser

Shuttle Chef follows Aunt's advice and keeps cooking on the move moist

May 01, 2007
Shuttle Chef follows Aunt's advice and keeps cooking on the move moist

The Shuttle Chef Thermal Cooker we have been living with for the last month brings back savory, succulent, wholesome memories of my Aunt Jean Anderson's cooking. I loved my aunt but as boys are always hungry I admit her cooking played a strong part in that.

She was a country woman who had been an Army nurse. I discovered that when I found her pictured with her fellow sisters in the Second World War publication Soldiering On. It's a famous picture, it can be seen at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. To me it's something like the wonderful insightful study, Lancaster Crew, done in April-May 1944 by Australian artist Stella Brown.

It is allin the crews' eye, sadness, courage, their youth and fragility shows. Six Australians and one Englishman flying with 460 Squadron into Friedrichshafen at night on April 27 1944, of the crew only one Flying Officer T.J.Lynch survived when they were shot down near Lahr.

The war shaped everything then. My Uncle Gil survived too in the difficult circumstances of the Western Desert and married his Jean Morrison when battered but unbowed he got back home.

He had been a mountain cattleman and loved the land so he put up for soldier settlement near Derrinallum in Victoria's Western District (a far cry from the desert) and got 2000 acres - with water.

He shone like the sun when he came home to tell Aunt Jean of his good fortune.

They lived in the woolshed on Morriander at first until the house was built and Aunt Jean, with no apparent effort, fed family (four girls) and any who came hungry, which included me, on schoolholiday visits to the farm.

One day while cooking a mighty roast with all the trimmings my aunt did something rare in a time when men were fed and women cooked. She talked to me about cooking well. To the huge farmhousewood-fired slow combustion stove we went.

Simple stew Shuttle Chef style
Simple stew Shuttle Chef style

She opened the big oven door and rich, rounded, roast aromas from uncle's quality cut (he killed his own meat) grabbed my senses and flooded my taste buds. Then Aunt Jean gave me the key to good cooking.

I can hear her now - add water, she said. You must cook slowly and keep the cooking moist to get the best flavour and keep the goodness.

Which is just what the twin containers of the Thermos Shuttle Chef slow cooker achieves. Thermos was a name we knew when aunt was alive but hot and cold tea, drinks and soup went into the Thermos then.

It is called Evacuated insultation technology and it became a household name around the world after it was invented by Thermos more than 100 years ago.

Now we have worked through part of the Shuttle Chef recipe book. Rice, brown or white takes on a rich fluffy finish which would do credit to any Chinese chef. It stays hot too. It can be varied in flavour with vegetables, chopped onion and grated carrot.

Boiled fruit cake
Boiled fruit cake

Stews start simple and quickly become a statisfying variation of the basic theme. Pasta in all its varieties is prepared so quickly it is better to have your sauces ready first.

The roasts will never match Aunt Jean's. Nothing could.But they certainly compete with honour.

And I have to say with a great deal less attention to detail. Fish, curries, chicken, pork, cakes and desserts are all within the Shuttle Chef's cooking range.

The Shuttle Chef has two containers. One is an inner clad stainless steel pot. It is for direct heating.

The outer insulated container shuts in the heat for hours and continues the cooking process. The inner pots design allows it to heat throughout its surfaces.

Cooking a meal is a matter of heating it on a stovein the inner pot for the period laid down in the recipe book. Put the 4.5 litre (CC4500S version tested) inner pot inside the vacuum insulated outer container. Close the lid. Take it with you and serve a hot meal up to eight hours later.

Tasty Spicy Baked beans
Tasty Spicy Baked beans

The actual length of cooking depends on the recipe and the quantity and moisture of the ingredients in the inner pot.

Meat cooks beautifully. Less expensive cuts definitely benefit from the cooker. Vegetables keep their shape.

As aunt said keep it moist. Meals retain their goodness. Food can't be overcooked. There is a real energy saving as the meal is prepared in minutes and cooks (free) for hours.

The quality of the inner pot allows easy cleaning and it can be put through a dishwasher when you have a full load to save on water. Or cleaned on campsite with a soft sponge and hot water.

The outside of the Shuttle Chef remains cool to the touch.

We used it at home and in the company Retro Sahara 4WD held firmly upright by an elastic safety net. It makes an excellent companion for our reliable WAECO fridge.

The inner and outer pots clean easily
The inner and outer pots clean easily

In the Shuttle Chef Thermos has come up with an airless vacuum space between to stainless steel walls.

The result is a heat loss of only 3-4deg C an hour.

It is the hottest or the coldest for hours.

There are four versions of the product ranging from 4.5 litres to 6 litres with a choice of inner pot combinations.

The Shuttle Chef comes with a five year warranty.The (CC4500S version tested) retails for $249, (AUS)thebigger version with 2 inner potsis $359. The Shuttle Chef can be delivered anywhere in Australia freight free via thiswebsite.

Shipment of Shuttle Chef to New Zealand can be arranged through the same website.

Allan Rush of Thermal Cookware can offer a $NZ28 freight cost for New Zealanders wanting delivery.
He says Thermal Cookware will be exhibiting at the Snow and Outdoor Traders Association Show in Canberra this month this is for both Australian and New Zealand retail outlets.
All Shuttle Chef prices are quoted in Australian dollars and when people purchase over the web it should charge their credit card in Aussie Dollars.
The currency conversion has the CC 4500 S as $281.00 New Zealand Dollars (it is normally $249.00 Australian Dollars)

Here are some recipes from Thermos:

Thermos Corned Silverside.

1 to 2 kilogram piece of Corned Beef (choose a square cut piece to fit easily)

2 Bay leaves

1 large Onion

3 strips of Orange peel

4 Cloves

2 tablespoons of Brown Sugar

1 cup of Balsamic Vinegar

1 tablespoon of Mustard

a tablespoon of Peppercorns

Water to cover.

Simmering time on the stove top: 30 minutes

Thermal Cooking time: 3 to 4 hours minimum.

Place all the ingredients into the inner pot.

Bring the contents to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer.

Simmer gently for 30 minutes with the lid on.

Turn off the heat and transfer the inner pot to the outer Thermal Container.

Leave to complete the cooking for 3 to 4 hours minimum.

You can add the required vegetables whole with the corned beef while

it is being simmered or else you may wish to freshly cook vegetables to serve with the corned beef when you are ready to eat.

Thermos Spicy Baked Beans

Serves up to 10 people

1 teaspoon of Olive Oil

2 cups of chopped Onions

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

2 tablespoons of freshly grated Ginger

2 cups of Carrots, finely chopped

2 cups of finely chopped Apples

1 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

of a cup of Tomato paste

a cup of Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

a cup of Molasses (optional as this does sweeten the meal


2 Tablespoons of Balsamic vinegar

1 cup of Tomato sauce

1 cup of Raisins

1 teaspoon of minced Chilli

1 Bay leaf

375g packet of Red Kidney Beans.

Simmering time on the stove top: 10 minutes plus 5 minutes

Thermal Cooking time: 2 hours plus 4 hours minimum.

Prepare the Kidney Beans.

Soak the Kidney Beans overnight.

Cover them with fresh water and bring them to the boil in the inner pot.

Simmer them for 10 minutes.

Then place them in the outer Thermal Container for 2 hours.

Prepare the whole meal.

Remove the Kidney Beans and rinse out the pot.

Add the oil to the inner pot over medium-high heat and fry the onions for 3 minutes.

Add the chopped garlic, ginger and cayenne, and then cool for just 30 seconds, stirring to release the volatile oils.

Stir in the carrots and apples until they are well coated with the spices.

Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring thoroughly and then bring the mixture to a full boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Place the inner pot into the outer Thermal container and allow to cook for a minimum of 4 hours.


You can add 1 kilogram of tasty chunky sausages cut into slices, such as Bratwurst, African Boerwurst or even Chorizos when you are adding the kidney beans.

Boiled Fruit Cake.

375 grams of mixed Dried Fruit

of a cup of Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon of Mixed Spice

Grated rind of an Orange

a cup of Water or Orange Juice

of a cup of Whiskey

125 grams of Butter

2 lightly beaten Eggs

1 cup of self raising Flour

1 cup of plain Flour

a teaspoon of Bicarb Soda

Optional..Replace the water, liquor and sugar with a 450 gram tin of unsweetened crushed pineapple.

Simmering time on the stove top: 30 minutes

Thermal cooking time: 3 to 4 hours minimum.

Place the dried fruit into a saucepan with the brown sugar, mixed spice, orange rind, water liquor and butter.

Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Allow the mixture to cool.

Mix in the eggs.

Stir in the sifted flour and soda bicarb.

Line a 16cm round cake tin or Pyrex dish with baking paper (or grease the container with butter and put baking paper on the bottom)

Spoon the mixture into the container.

Lay another circle of baking paper on the top of the mixture and then cover this with a layer of Alfoil to prevent condensation.

Place a trivet or metal pastry ring in the inner pot and rest the cake tin on this (with the 3 litre pot you can rest the tin on a fold of


Pour enough hot water into the inner pot to come halfway up the sides of the cake tin.

Bring the water to the boil, with the lid on and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Place the inner pot into the outer Thermal container for 3 to 4 hours minimum.


Many cakes, particularly moist cake mixtures that cook slowly at lower temperatures, such as fruit cake or carrot cake can be made in the Shuttle Chef.

Choose a tin or Pyrex dish that fits your Shuttle Chef.

The following recipes suit a 16cm diameter round tin. Usually less liquid is required than in a normal recipe as the cake doesnt dry out as it does in an oven.

Remember that there is no problem with leaving your cake in the Shuttle Chef for quite a few hours as it will not dry can even make the cake last thing at night before going to bed and take it out first thing in the morning.

Other handy hints for making cakes and puddings

To cover cakes and steamed puddings, place a round of baking paper on top of mixture. Make a pleat about 2 cm wide in the middle of a sheet of alfoil to allow the cake to rise. Cover the tin with the foil, allowing it to overlap the rim by 2.5 cm crimping it down around the edges to hold it in place.

When cooking cakes in the 3 litre inner pot, unless you have a shallow cake tin, there is not usually enough height to sit the tin on a

trivet or pastry ring. A square of alfoil (approx 30cm x 30cm) folded in half then half again and sat in the bottom of the inner pot works

equally as well. As there is less water surrounding the cake tin in the 3 litre pot, it is necessary to have the other 3 litre pot filled

with boiling water or a liquid based meal to achieve maximum heat retention.

Measure the amount of water needed to come halfway up the sides of the cake tin before placing the mixture into the tin. It is too difficult to pour water down the narrow gap after.

Make a strap to lift the tin in and out of the boiling water, by folding a sheet of alfoil approx 45cm long in half, 3 times lengthwise. (45x3cm)

To test if cake is cooled, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. Leave for a few seconds, then remove, it should come away clean.

If any mixture sticks to the skewer, recover and place back into inner pot. Bring pot back to the boil, then return to outer pot for 30 minutes more. Times given are minimum and cakes can be left for longer without drying out or overcooking.

Shuttle Chef cooks up a stew
Shuttle Chef cooks up a stew