By: Owen Wyatt, Chef and Culinary Director
Behind the Scenes of Cookware Development
This week we announced the launch of our latest vessel in our line of smart cookware: the 3.5 quart Sauce Pot. We started developing this piece of cookware a little over 2 years ago with the goal of allowing home cooks the ability to master sauce making. As Culinary Director at Hestan Smart Cooking, I’m proud to say this vessel is the best piece of smart cookware we’ve developed. Our team of Chefs, Culinary Scientists and Engineers have worked tirelessly to create the world’s smartest sauce pot.
Here we will share a behind the scenes look of our development process when creating over 45 new recipes. Plus our Cue chefs have included their favorite new recipes and a little bit of the science and testing that went into each one.
A History of Precision Cooking
Since 2015 when Hestan Smart Cooking was founded, our goal has always been helping home cooks achieve consistent, delicious results using precision temperature control and video-guided recipes. Our mission was to combine almost 50 years of professional culinary experience with Cue’s Smart Cookware to enable home cooks the ability to make restaurant-quality meals in the comfort of their own home. With the addition of each new vessel, we gained new knowledge of the capabilities of precision temperature control. With our first piece (the pan) we learned how to perfectly dial in the cooking temperatures and times for numerous proteins, pan sauces, and shallow frying.
Shortly after, we released the Chef’s Pot which brought even more functionality (and over 100 new recipes) and the understanding of temperature control. Not only did the Chef’s Pot provide larger quantities of food, but it provided a unique set of challenges. We wanted the chef’s pot to offer effortless braising, frying, and large batch meals for the whole family. Lucky for us, our team of talented Culinary Scientists dove into these questions and provided astounding solutions. That being said we believe in using the right tool for the job. It was clear that we were missing a critical piece of cookware: the saucepot. And missing the techniques like emulsified egg sauces and most importantly rice.
Sauce Pot Dreams
As a chef, one of the questions that I am frequently asked is how to excel at cooking different sauces. For one reason or another, sauce making has somewhat remained a mystery for most home cooks. This is for good reason. Making a delicious and velvety Hollandaise requires a balance of technique and temperature. If the Hollandaise gets too hot or cold, or the butter is added too fast the sauce will separate resulting in a greasy mess. In a traditional French kitchen, the Saucier (a chef who makes the sauces; yes making sauces is a full-time profession in the culinary world) is the highest position on the cooking line. Through our experience and countless hours of experimenting, we knew that we could utilize Cue’s temperature control to enable home cooks to overcome these intimidating obstacles.
When our resident Culinary Scientist Julian Weisner was tasked with helping us achieve stress-free sauce making, he jumped at the opportunity. For basic sauces like vinaigrettes and reduction sauces, the work was straightforward. We could rely solely on temperature control. But when it came to recipes like Hollandaise, cheese sauces, and emulsifying butter for poaching Lobster, he had to go back to the drawing board (literally). If you heat the eggs too fast they will scramble. If your emulsified butter for poaching lobster gets too hot it will separate.
Julian spent countless hours testing different cooking algorithms and adjusting how we apply heat to the pot. After months of hard work and recipe development, he cracked the code. What if we didn’t just set temperature but slowly increased temperature as the sauce thickened? This would stop the egg yolks from scrambling and the butter from separating. We put theory into practice and couldn’t believe the results. We no longer needed a double boiler to make a Sabayon or worry about how we would hold our sauces. This combined with our signature video guidance gave the home cook all of the tools needed to be successful each and every time they stepped up to Cue.
Rice, Rice, Baby!
Mastering sauce making opened the door to what the culinary team considered one of the most important techniques that we had yet to offer: rice. I know this sounds crazy, but we couldn’t get over the fact that we could ensure perfectly seared Scallops and Filet Mignon cooked to a perfect medium-rare, but still couldn’t offer rice to our users. To be clear, cooking rice may be simple enough, but there is a huge difference between great rice and rice that is technically edible. If the rice is cooked at too high of a simmer the exterior can be mushy while the interior remains hard. Perfectly cooked rice is absolutely delicious and even comforting. The grains should be tender and slightly fluffy, while still holding their individual shape. Chefs in Japan train a lifetime perfecting perfect sushi rice, lucky for you we’ve found a way to achieve this without the torture.
Did we mention that not all rice cooks the same? Short grain, brown, long-grain, and wild rice all have different rates of hydration, meaning some require larger amounts of water than others. We spent months experimenting and tuning the way we cooked rice. When we thought we were close we ran into the issue of the starchy water slightly boiling over on to the burner. At one point, a firmware change caused us to start over at ground zero. When all was said and done, we came up with the solution that is now available to you. Not only did we make basic rice work, but we offered variations such as wild rice, rice pilaf, Spanish rice, and coconut rice (my favorite). Unlike a rice cooker that doesn’t provide an exact cooking time and can often take a while, we were able to provide not only exact but shorter cooking times. Without a doubt, turning the Sauce Pot into a rice cooker is one of our greatest achievements and we are beyond happy to share it with our users.
One Pot, Endless Possibilities
After sauces and rice, the flood gates had opened. This little unassuming Sauce Pot quickly became our favorite vessel. We started to develop a wide range of recipes and modalities such as culturing Yogurt, cooking beans, blanching vegetables, making puddings, chutneys and other tasty vinaigrettes. We were even able to use the saucepot for a crowd favorite- Fondue! We wanted to include recipes that not only tasted delicious but took little time to make and required few ingredients. While we will always aim to inspire and educate, we realize that sometimes you just have to get food on the table. We took this to heart with the saucepot, by sticking to our mission of not only using technology for the sake of technology and providing home chef’s everywhere the ability to excel in the kitchen.
Our Favorite Recipes
Culinary Director (and Chef) Owen: Butterscotch Pudding
Without a doubt, my favorite recipe is the Butterscotch Pudding. This was a recipe that Chef Aldana created, and one that I crave on a regular basis. The ability to make caramel without a thermometer and not worrying about scrambling eggs is a huge win in my book. As much as I love how easy the cooking experience is with Cue, it is the actual recipe that takes the cake. It is absolutely delicious! It checks off every box in terms of what makes a wonderful dessert. Whether you eat it warm right out of the pot or serve it as a parfait with crumbled graham crackers and whipped cream, there is no world in which this recipe is not considered absolutely delicious. If I am being 100% honest, I didn’t just eat a few cups of pudding but rather whole batches that I ate at work and later took home to eat in the comfort of my own home without judgment.
Chef Christina: Fondue
We all know the old adage of newlyweds receiving a fondue pot, making fondue once and then never again; leaving it to gather dust for years. Plus, who wants one-use-appliances taking up some counter and cabinet space anyways? That’s why when creating and testing recipes for the Sauce Pot, we knew both Cheese and Chocolate fondue had to be included. Cue’s precision temperature control takes the guesswork out of melting and serving your fondue. We’ve even included a dipping timer, that will hold your cheese or chocolate at the perfect temperature for serving, so now you can cook and serve your fondue in one pot! Not to mention Fondue is delicious (hello cheese!) and fun for the whole family. Now it won’t have to be regulated to cooking once in a lifetime!
Chef Aldana: Butter Sauces
When we were developing the recipes for the Sauce Pot, the real moment of truth came when we tested classic double boiler recipes like Hollandaise and Bearnaise. We knew a sauce pot had to include them and when we saw how precision temperature control can replace the old fashion double boiler (too many steam burns to have any appreciation to that technique), the whole world just expanded in front of our eyes. We knew we had accomplished something big. Sabayon is a second close for the same reasons. Knowing that all of our users will be able to enjoy them in their home, is by far the best accomplishment.
Culinary Scientist (and Chef) Julian: Rice
In our development process, we dismantled a number of expensive rice cookers in order to build that same technology into the Sauce Pot. Automated rice cooking is not new, and cooking rice in a pot is not new, but the ability to achieve automated rice cooking on your Cue without purchasing additional countertop equipment is a game-changer. We streamlined each rice recipe to yield our favorite results, but there is no limit to the permutation of rice recipes. From long grains like jasmine, to wild rice, I love all the varieties of fluffy rice that you can cook now, it’s difficult for me to pick just one recipe!
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!