Comments: We are besieged with requests from readers who want to partially cook their food, drive two hours to a friend's house, and then finish the cooking. We generally say, "no." Your food will cool off, you'll be reheating from scratch, it will spend too long in the risky temperature zone of 40°F to 140°F, etc., etc.
Now along comes a product that solves that problem and several others – Kuhn Rikon's Hotpan,
in which you are expected to partially cook your food, turn off the heat, plink
it in its insulated holder, and let it finish cooking by residual heat. It is
perfect for a holiday drive to the relatives'. It is also ideal for holding
The stainless steel pot has a thick aluminum-sandwiched base for even heat diffusion, and has measurement lines on the inside (in liters (ever so slightly more than quarts)). The lid is double walled to retain heat. The non-slip melamine bowl provides insulation, but can also be used on its own as a salad bowl or for any other kitchen use. The Hotpan is ideal for keeping foods hot. We measured the heat of a stew after two hours off the heat, and it was a reassuring 165°F (75°C).
The manufacturer suggests you make use of the Hotpan's "soft-cooking" process. You add your ingredients to the pan, put the lid on, cook on medium-high until steam starts to appear, turn the heat to low and cook for 2 to 5 minutes more, then place the pan in the insulating bowl for as long as specified in the included cooking-times chart. Broccoli in 1-inch pieces will be done after 10 minutes in the bowl; spinach after 2; apples after 15; chicken breasts after 10; risotto after 15.
We made a very successful risotto in the Hotpan. The recipe booklet provides timing for a veal stew (10 minutes on the heat and 1 hour-20 minutes in the bowl), and we can see why they chose veal. The beef stew we tried was a little too tough to cook to fall-apart goodness in the Hotpan. The method is well-suited to vegetables, fruits, rice dishes, and casseroles. As with anything totally new, you may have to experiment for a while to find the dishes and cooking times that are just right for you.
Extra bowls can be purchased separately if you wish to experience a range of colors. Of course the pan can be used as a conventional pan. The handles and bowl can withstand heat up to 250°F (120°C) but are not to be put in the oven or microwave oven.
The drawback? Like anything from Europe these days – and especially from Switzerland – it costs an arm and a leg. Though if you think about it, there are a lot of pans that are in this price range. If you use the pan regularly, you'll probably recoup the cost in energy savings, but you may not notice.
The Europeans use it to save energy – 5 to 15 minutes of active heating vs. as much as 2 hours. Perhaps we are still not as energy conscious, but we sure like to travel with our food, juggle mealtimes, and keep food hot for a buffet. The Hotpan is an elegant solution.