For years I’ve envied the chefs on Food Network for the culinary tools they have at their disposal. Great knives, prep areas, ovens, stovetops, and pots and pans. One that has long pricked at my heart is an enameled dutch oven, somewhere in the 4-6 quart size. I’ve always thought I would ONE day have enough money to pick one up. They’re hundreds of dollars.
Enter Cooks Illustrated. They regularly review kitchen gear and the like, and a couple months ago they reviewed just such enameled dutch ovens. They found the best one was less than $50, and a good deal. I thought little of it because I didn’t have $50 to put into a pot.
I recently had a birthday and was given a bit of money from my father and his wife, and my in-laws. We wanted to make sure we had enough to make it through the month, so I held on to it. Once we knew we were ok, then the news about Festus hit. It threw us for a loop. Looking back, I think it was something cathartic, but I realized that with my birthday money, I could finally get this pot that Cooks Illustrated praised. I found it on WalMart.com, it’s 6.5 quarts, and the thing weighs 20 pounds! The shipping cost on that is insane. BUT! WalMart has a ship-to-store thing, where I can say I’ll go pick it up in the store. Sears used to have the same thing (I only know that because I did Sears catalog work in high school). Shipping to the store is free! Done and done.
How goofy is this though? The package is shipped by FedEx, not by WalMart. They aren’t just sticking the box on one of the trucks coming out to the store, they have a FedEx truck pull up and drop the box off. Does this not strike anyone else as odd?
The pot arrives! I love it! I read that I should season it before using it. There is a rim of exposed iron on the edge of the lid, and around the rim of the pot. I should rub that with vegetable oil and cook the pot at 400 degrees for an hour. Happily, I do this. I’ve seasoned dutch ovens before, and it’s kinda fun to do, knowing that I’m prepping it for later tasty applications.
But I didn’t know that when you get an excess of oil in the pot, it becomes a brown glue against the enamel. Did you? Now you do. Here’s a picture so you can see what it’s like:
I’ve never noticed that on regular dutch ovens, because they’re black. Maybe I’m just sloppy? I’ll have to work on that.
So the first recipe I want to make with this pot is French Onion Soup. I understand that the french make it by standing over a pot of onions for a day or two, stirring them over low heat. Enter (again) Cooks Illustrated! They have beaten that technique by cooking the onions in the oven for a few hours at first to get the onions to caramelize and reduce.
So. Four pounds of onions.
My daughter Lillian helps skin the onions. I’ve noticed her paying a lot of attention as I’ve been cooking for the last few weeks (I’m cooking because Natalie isn’t feeling up to it — pregnant). I’m glad to have her help.
Then the onions are all sliced end to end, not like I normally cut them for cooking or for salsa. Apparently they keep their shape better this way.
So, here we are, with four pounds of onions sliced and in the pot:
They’re in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. Time to start planning the bolognese and meatballs for family dinner tomorrow!
[passage of one hour]
Before I could finish the post, the timer went off and it’s time to stir the onions. Wow, they’ve reduced a lot! And they already smell like sugar!
I’ll be back with more news after I get back from the store. Laters!