French Pot? Try Again!

I was walking around BJ’s the other night and saw an enameled cast iron “french” pot and I joked to my husband that it was probably a french pot, made in China.

french pot from cuisine de france - made in china

I half-heartedly turned over the box, and I admit I was a tad bit surprised to see “made in China”, well not THAT surprised, but it did shock me a little.

french pot from cuisine de france - made in china

It still amazes me that companies are allowed to push the limits of fair & truthful marketing with their sneaky packaging and labels!

I suppose it’s too much to ask that something named “Cuisine de France” (which according to the manufacturers’ web site means “French Kitchen”) would actually have something to do with France except for the name on the box!

I know, I know, everything nowadays is “made in China”, but if you know about good cookware, you’d know there are still cast iron pots being manufactured in France (Le Creuset and Staub); in fact, one of the kitchen tools so many home cooks aspire to own, is a good-quality french enameled cast iron pot!

I really think Lifetime Brands took advantage of that fact by making it look like this could have been a french-made pot, when in fact it’s no better than any other cheap no-name import. At first glance, I admit I fell for it, and I bet a lot of other consumers did too.

Williams Sonoma Outlet – 60% Off All Staub Cast Iron Cookware!

Whoo hoo! My cast iron collection is complete! Just bought a Staub 6.25 qt round and 11 inch gratin pan. I am thrilled! (EDIT: my Williams Sonoma receipt states 7qt, but matching the # to the Staub brochure, it states 6.25qt. It’s probably only 6.25 usable, but to fill to the top, it’s 7 qt)

I found out about the HUGE Staub 60% off sale down at the Williams Sonoma outlet store in Wrentham, MA! I debated if I should make the hour long drive down, but I’m so glad I did!

I phoned them first to see if they had any large ovals, and they didn’t, but they did have 6.25 quart round. I decided that the discount was worth the gasoline and time, so I made the trip!

When I arrived, I didn’t realize how large the Wrentham Outlet mall was. Wow! I didn’t really know where to park, so I took a chance and parked by the Banana Republic store. I started walking toward the right and found a directory, and realized that the Williams Sonoma store was at the LEFT end of the mall in the back, toward where I originally parked. That’s good! I wouldn’t have to lug my heavy purchase too far, so I turned back and walked the other way toward the store.

On the directory, I also noticed that the Le Creuset outlet store was very closeby as well, so I took a peek on my way to WS. They were having a 25% discount sale, nothing to match the 60% off, but it was fun to look anyway. I was shocked to see the huge 15 quart pot on display. Wow, I didn’t know they made ’em that huge!

Anyway, back to my Staub purchase.

I had a difficult time deciding what to purchase. Yes, my ultimate dream would have been a large oval pot, and I was debating the 6.25 qt round vs the 4 qt oval chicken roaster (matte black). This roaster is not the same as the Coq Au Vin oven, which would have made an even tougher choice. This pan is shaped like a chicken, with an awkward shaped lid. And since I already have a 4 quart round pot, in the end I decided the 6.25 qt would really be the best.

They also had many gratin pans in many sizes. I decided the medium sized 11 inch should fit nicely in my small counter-top oven for roasting a small chicken or a chicken breast, plus I’d be able to sear on the stove first! I debated the 13 inch covered gratin, but thought it might be too large.

So for a total of $138 (including tax) I bought my dream 6 qt round and the 11 inch gratin. Now I can give away my old “made in China” 6 quart pot! I love Staub! I actually prefer it to Le Creuset! ha! I love the black enameled interior, it’s so easy to clean, and it’s a workhorse! I take care not to use metal utensils in my enameled cast iron. I mostly use wooden.

So, I think my collection is complete!

two 2 (1.75) quart round pots
one 4 quart round pot
one 6 quart round pot
one 11 inch gratin

I think the only other pieces I would consider would be a larger fry pan (not grill pan) but then again, plain ole cast iron would probably be the best for that piece.

And maybe possibly an oval piece, but then again, why? I think I have all the bases covered with the sizes I have. I’m thrilled!

Oh and the sale is until the end of the month, and there were still lots to choose from, many gratin pans, minis, 3 qt ovals, and a few 4 qt oval pots, along with two more 6 quart rounds. They had a bunch of the black chicken roasters too. They also have these cool-looking tall sauce pans, but I think they are more for cool looks, than actually serving a cooking purpose.

And such beautiful colors, too. I love the basil green and the deep blue is stunning. The graphite gray is nice, and the matte black too. My pieces were in the Williams Sonoma exclusive red. It’s a darker red, almost burnt color. Wasn’t my first choice, but for this price, I will NOT complain!

EDIT 2011-07-29: Still haven’t unpacked the BIG pot, but I baked a meatloaf in the 11 inch gratin pan. Very nice pan. I think I’m going to use it a lot!

Le Creuset Stoneware Baking Dish

I bought my Le Creuset stoneware 9inch square baking dish for a bargain price at Home Goods and it is my favorite baking dish.

I have been using it for at least a year or two, and I think my favorite use is roasting vegetables – it cleans up very easily too. I’ve also baked egg frittatas in it, along with desserts. Sometimes, baked on eggs do require a bit more elbow grease to clean it, but probably my fault for not pre-coating with enough oil.

Scratches or black marks from metal utensils (which I try not to use very often in the dish) are easily removed by using a touch of Barkeepers Friend cleanser.

I love this baking dish but is it better than a far less expensive stoneware baking dish? I think so. I don’t like buying “Made in China” stoneware for fear of lead levels in the glaze or other materials, and I know it’s possible that the lead content in the Le Creuset is no better or worse, but it does not feel like cheap stoneware that clanks & clangs when you hit it against something. (FYI, Le Creuset stoneware is made in Thailand)

The Le Creuset stoneware pieces are strong and very well made. No, I don’t recommend paying full retail price for them, but if you run across one or two pieces of Le Creuset stoneware at Marshalls, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, or other discounters, then grab it! I believe I paid about $15 for the 9inch square piece. I was tempted at a later date to purchase the large loaf pan, but decided to wait.

Wagner Cast Iron

I have been contemplating a new cast iron pan for awhile. Yes, I have many pieces of enameled cast iron and I love using them, but I wanted a real old fashioned cast iron skillet! I was so intimidated though. Would I be able to keep it from rusting? Would it be too much trouble?

While away for the 4th of July holiday this weekend we were browsing at a yard sale; We came upon a stack of cast iron skillets. Some cheap, thin ones from Taiwan and a couple of nice old pieces from Wagner. I am not an expert, but I know that Wagner is a good name to look for when looking for older cast iron. (Griswold being another brand.)

I found a 9 inch Wagner skillet, and as expected, it was rusted, but I figured now is as good a time as any to finally dig in and experience true cast iron.

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