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a picture of the mystery cookware

I'm not the lister, I'm a potential buyer. I asked a question about a "Wonder Pot" a bit ago, and this item came up on a search. I don't think it's a wonder pot though. The center hole is effectively much smaller, and there are not any vents in the lid. There isn't a "flame tamer" either, although this part may be lost.

I keep seeing cookware like this in thrift stores, and I'm pretty sure it's for one specific task. What might that task be?

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I have to agree, that doesn't look anything like a wonder pot. Doesn't look like it'd be very good for steaming either, considering how little surface area there is for the heat transfer, not to mention the seemingly pointless non-stick coating. – Aaronut Oct 29 '11 at 21:09

This one had me scratching my head for a while. I came across the phrases "stovetop oven", "raised center skillet", "steamer pan" and a bunch of other dead-ends.

Well, I finally stumbled onto "Ultimate Dutch Oven":

Ultimate Dutch Oven

Looks familiar, doesn't it? This one is cast iron, but what you've found is clearly a non-stick version of the same thing.

It's sold as camping gear. The raised center in the middle is what they call a "convection cone". Presumably it's meant to emulate a convection oven (inefficiently, I might add, since there's no fan) - the vents in the cone are a means of distributing the heat, to help mitigate the usual skillet problem of the bottom being overcooked while the top is still raw. I'm pretty sure that nothing is actually supposed to go "inside" the cone, other than hot air. It's probably fairly effective if you're cooking over an open flame (i.e. extremely hot air).

A 3" high non-stick version of this would seem to be of pretty limited use. I can imagine trying to make "baked" potatoes in there, or maybe pre-butchered chicken parts? As you can see from the link above, the "full-size" version can hold a couple of small birds, and again, it's cast iron, so it's infinitely more useful for outdoor cooking.

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The OP photo doesn't look deep enough to be a dutch oven, although your research is very interesting. – SAJ14SAJ Nov 29 '12 at 13:30

It is a dry pan, from Tefal, you most likely find in Europe.

Edit by rumtscho The answer used to contain a deep link on a site called, now the domain still exists, but the product page is gone.

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See these two links: What is this pan all about? and Kitchen Sleuth: What Is This Pan?

The holes are for steam. What is under the raised center?

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hmmm, infomercial. off to youtube... – OpenID-test2 Oct 29 '11 at 21:53

We had one of these when I was growing up. I remember the commercials identifying it as the perfect pan for frying chicken.

The concept was the vents let out undesirable moisture so that all of your pan fried pieces of chicken would be crisp throughout. It was also supposed to be a healthier way of cooking since it was supposed to use little to no oil.

I seem to recall it was a pain to use and results were eh... okay. It got a lot of use though because of the cost.

Funny thing is, my mom and I saw one of these at goodwill today and my 17 year old daughter asked the very same question and my mother was able to confirm my memory was correct.

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It's called Dry Cooker in Europe. You can find it in Romania, buy it from TV shopping. Not sure who makes it, but I can tell I used it and it really works. Unfortunately there are fake copies which are not Teflon, so you need to be careful what you're buying. Not sure whether they can be purchased online and have them delivered in other European countries, but I have tried getting one here in The States and was not able to find it.

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When I was growing up on Long Island, NY we had a stove top oven looking very much like the one that you showed in the first picture. It was from the middle 30's. I was told that it was for baking potatoes on the top of our gas stove. If I remember correctly it didn't work very well What we had was aluminum

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I have one like this, but much older. It is useful to bake things on a stovetop when you don't have an oven. I have used mine for roasting potatoes and making sponge cake and it works quite well. Mine, though, has a heavy iron rin that you are supposed to put underneath it, I guess to spread the heat.

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I saw one today in a charity shop for £2:00.

I was curious about its purpose so I have done a bit of research.

As previous posters have said it’s a dry cooking pan.

They are widely used in eastern Europe and seem to be quite a good alternative to using an oven especially if you are only cooking for one or two.

They sell in Romania for about £30:00.

Here is a video from 1987 promoting them as a “Swiss dry cooker” for only $19:95 each.

They are available today on Ebay for as little as £8:25 plus postage and packing.

I’m back to the charity shop tomorrow to snap it up.

But I might just keep it as a conversation piece LOL!

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