Friday, January 2, 2009

La Cocotte Gets a Makeover

You may remember the story of how we acquired this indispensable piece of cookware, which we have used virtually every day since. We have two cast iron pieces at home in the States: one is a vintage country-style cast iron pan from Jefe's family. As our good friend Eric has impressed upon us, nothing will ever come close to this vintage pan (one word: cornbread); if you find a cast iron pan in good condition, treasure it and it will last forever. Even a pan in bad condition can often be restored.

Our other cast iron piece is a 9inch Le Creuset iron-handle skillet. The Le Creuset skillet (which we bought after trying out Trevor's) is another excellent piece of cookware; it's enamelling is silky smooth and remarkably easy to clean. And this is why we were so enthusiastic over finding a new Le Creuset piece for so cheap (a new one would have been prohibitively expensive).

It might seem like we are making a big deal out of nothing, but the Le Creuset brand has a rich history and is a highly respected brand amongst foodies and chefs (and it's a must-have for many traditional French meals--the cassoulet, for instance). The cocotte was the very first product offered when the company started back in 1925. Our pot, which we picked up at a used furniture store, is one of the smallest and lightest versions, the 27cm (or ~4 litre) size (which is good because our oven and stove are quite small). The color is "flame" (one of the first, introduced in 1934).

The cocotte, an enamalled cast iron "french oven" (aka dutch oven) with a lid, is great both for stovetop and oven use. It produces wonderful frittatas and casseroles and risottos. We even use it for vin chaud. Some readers may remember that the first time we put it into the oven, we melted/incinerated the plastic handle, and had to replace it with a bolt from the hardware store. The bolt worked fairly well; we got used to placing a kitchen towel between our hands and the bolt in order to pick up the lid. One downside is that we couldn't put the lid upside down on the counter top. Another is that the bolt didn't really go with the whole Le Creuset aesthetic.

Well today, thanks to Jefe's brother and fellow foodie, Josh, the cocotte got a makeover...

before, and after

Now our little cocotte is perfect, both aesthetically and functionally (thanks Josh!). Originally, when we moved to France, the plan was to accumulate as little stuff as possible, and to assume that anything we did accumulate was going to stay in France when we went back to the US.

Yesterday, we both agreed that the cocotte is coming with us when we leave.

yes, that's a brand-name handle. don't hate.


Josh said...

It's beautiful :)

Ira said...

I saw those handles while looking for a replacement whistle for my Le Creuset kettle. Looks sharp!