12 July 2011

Go-to pan: Staub Dutch Oven

I only discovered Staub pans a few years ago. Before that, I'd maintained a small collection of Lodge iron pans. Well, I say "maintained" but I never really mastered the art of getting the ideal seasoning while still getting the pans as clean as I wanted.
Eventually, I realized that keeping a tool I won't use makes no sense. It's a version of my grandfather Francesco's saying: "A bargain on something you don't need is NOT a bargain."
A tool you don't use is not a tool. It's a burden.
I subscribe to Cook's Illustrated magazine, a terrific source for no-nonsense recipes and advice. There I read a recipe for Almost No-Knead Bread that one bakes in a dutch oven.
I love bread.
So I found a small dutch oven on sale at Williams-Sonoma. It was a small Staub, about 7" in diameter and 3" deep. (It's a #20 according to the bottom of the pan).

It's iron, but with an enamel coating inside (dull black) and out. It's got all the advantages of an iron pan and none of the maintenance issues. In addition, this lovely pan has a metal knob (great for worry-free oven use) and little stalagmite drip-cones on the lid to help when braising.
I LOVE this pan. It's uses quickly grew beyond baking bread, of course. This is often the case when you've been holding off acquiring a tool. When you do finally get your hands on it, a whole range of projects open up before you.
I now do pot roasts, roast chicken, and this week I even stretched out and tried Nigella Lawson's Beer Braised Beef, which I will write up later.
Would you like to see how bread looks when baked in the little Staub? I've made the recipe a dozen times. Here's a sample loaf:

I'll post the recipe later.

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