By: Julian Weisner, Culinary Scientist
Countertop appliances have outstripped our stoves in utility, ability, and function. There are blenders that cook, smart temperature deep fryers, slow cookers, rice cookers, toasters, steamers, pressure cookers, air fryers… you get the point. Comparatively, for an item that takes up to 30% of the kitchen, stoves have not been keeping up. At this point, it’d almost be more useful to throw a cutting board on top of the burners and extend your counter space. How did something so massive become, relatively speaking, so useless?
If you’ve read our other blogs on temperature control, you’ve already had a brief kitchen history lesson, so let’s go through Cliff’s notes. As humanity discovered new methods of producing heat, advancing from wood to coal, then on to gas and electricity we have also been improving our ability to control how hot our heat is. For example, while wood fires and charcoal need time to build up and get hotter, with a stove one can simply turn a knob to get hotter or colder in an instant. This ease of control was first introduced with gas stoves in the 1880s.
Read more about the history of temperature control in Your Stove is Broken!
To 2020 and Beyond
The 1880’s!? That’s how long ago the “modern” stove was invented, 140 years ago! For reference, the first automobile was invented in the 1880s. So while we’ve got GPS and cruise control in our cars, our stoves might as well be horse-drawn carriages. Do you want to hop on my four-burner stove for a ride around central park?
What we’re saying is, our stoves have been stuck in 1900 while our countertop appliances have followed us to 2020 and beyond. No wonder I’m more amazed by my rice cooker than my stove! Even my best pots and pans can’t bridge the gap between Fuzzy Logic and a horse-drawn carriage. Or can they?
Turns out with a little 21st-century wizardry, a bunch of engineers, and Michelin-starred chefs; your pots and pans can bridge the gap! Temperature controlled cooking is the technology behind what countertop appliances are doing, and now, cookware can do it too. Let’s take a look at a classic countertop appliance to understand what’s going on.
Better Cooking with Temperature Control
Rice cookers work by placing a measured amount of rice and water in a bowl and heating it at low power. The rice cooker then measures the temperature of the bowl while it is cooking. During the cooking process, the water and rice stay at or below the boiling point, but once the rice is cooked and the excess liquid boils off, the temperature quickly rises above the boiling point. Seeing this significant temperature increase the rice cooker knows that the rice is done! At this point, the rice cooker either stops applying heat or better yet, it lowers the heat to keep the rice warm. This is the basic function of rice cookers; cooking by measuring and responding to temperature.
The Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System works to implement a similar function by linking temperature sensing cookware, with smart induction burners, and a smartphone or tablet. Once a temperature is selected in the companion Cue app the wheels start turning to control the system. The cookware communicates its temperature to the app, which then communicates to the burner what to do. The app decides if the cooktop needs to apply full power to heat up fast, or a lower power to sustain a target temperature, all the while it gets up-to-the-second temperature information from the cookware, and recalculates. This constant loop allows the system to automatically regulate and control the temperature of the cookware.
One System, Endless Possibilities
The Cue 3.5qt Smart Sauce Pot (like all of our high-quality smart cookware) has the temperature sensor embedded between the tri-ply stainless steel layers in the base. By measuring the temperature from the bottom of the vessel we can reproduce rice cooker logic. The magic of this isn’t that there is a sauce pot that cooks rice, it’s that there is a sauce pot that is also a rice cooker. Simple innovations like this are easy when cookware can sense and control the temperature. The saucepot alone doubles as a fondue pot, a yogurt maker, a double boiler, a chafing dish, and a rice cooker, all while still being a sauce pot to use at your normal discretion.
Want to know more about engineering smart cookware? Read Creating The World’s Smartest Sauce Pot for a behind-the-scenes look.
Using this same temperature control, Cue’s 5.5qt Smart Chef’s Pot can be turned into a smart slow cooker, where low even heat is applied for a length of time, while a maximum temperature is set and held. This temperature limit ensures dishes don’t scorch to the bottom while at the same time, delicate meats are never boiled or overcooked. With temperature controlled slow cooking you can even get sous vide-like results from entire dishes without bags or a circulator. The Chef’s Pot also works as an excellent candy maker let alone fryer. All this without extra appliances or tools, just your cookware getting more done with less.
Speaking of frying, whether trying to perfect a chicken parmesan, Southern fried chicken, or New Orleans’ Beignets, you already know that accurate and reliable control over your oil is crucial. Normally this involves either an extra appliance or heavy cookware with a thermometer and years of practice (and patience). Instead, using the Cue app and any one of our pieces of cookware you can set the temperature, and keep a steady fry. The system will communicate when the oil has reached the right temperature; and it will actively manage the heat while you fry, resulting in a safer, more efficient, and more even fry.
Cue’s smart cookware can open the door for even more astounding transformations.
With temperature control cooking the 11” Smart Pan can take the worry out of cooking expensive or tricky meats like Steak and Salmon. Here’s how it works; measure the thickness of a steak and select both the measurement and the desired doneness (rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, well done) in the Cue app. From here, the app will calculate the exact amount of heat and time necessary to sear and cook the steak, all in the blink of an eye. Then the temperature controlled pan will work with you to cook the steak from raw to perfection, flawlessly every time. This goes beyond cooking appliance integration, becoming cooking innovation.
Guaranteed Results with Cue
With all of the capabilities Cue’s temperature controlled cooking provides, a new -ability enters the home: reliability. A recipe that communicates via temperature can now be executed to near perfection by any cook around the world. Want to taste a spectacular dish from a restaurant across the globe? Dialing in the cooking temperatures just like that Chef will result in the same exact dish. This opens the door for a whole new land of recipe sharing, tutorials, and guidance.
With the Cue App, video-guided recipes now allow you to get turn-by-turn GPS-style navigation of your favorite recipes by your favorite chefs or family members. You can see and hear what they are doing, and more importantly, you can smell and taste the results in your own home.
Here’s another way to think about it, before smartphones, mobile phones were just that: mobile phones. When the smartphone came out, it paved the way for your phone to become a handheld device, something that can, and does, do unimaginable things. That’s what smart cookware is. Just like a smartphone is the merger of a beeper, a PalmPilot, a digital camera, a GPS device, and a phone. Smart cookware is a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a double boiler, a fryer, a pot, a pan…it’s the only cookware you’ll ever need!
Recovering the role of your stove from countertop appliances is just the beginning of precision temperature control. Hestan Smart Cooking is constantly working to reimagine the abilities of cookware.
We love to see what you are cooking on Cue. Look for more inspiration and share your recipes or ask our Chefs for advice in our Facebook community.
For more recipe inspiration check out the Cue app, where you can discover over 500 chef-crafted recipes, all with step-by-step video guidance from prep to plating. Download the Hestan Cue app for iOS and Android and learn more about precision cooking with Cue, and all the things you can do!