Here come four months of long, cold nights, but the upside is that along with them comes the return of proper cooking, where ingredients have a chance to mingle and become more than the sum of their parts. Enough of stacked-up raw stuff for the next while. Bring on the alchemy! And bring on a decent pot in which to make that happen.
It's hard to beat a classic Staub 5.7-quart oval cocotte for answering the call of the coq au vin, osso buco, beef daube, blanquette de veau, chicken tagine, six-hour leg of lamb, slow-cooked thyme-strewn pork shoulder, choucroûte garnie, Irish stew with dumplings, pot roast, lamb navarin – and the list goes on.
Just to lay eyes upon a pot of such thoroughbred beauty is enough to get the saliva running: It's as handsome on the table as it is in the oven or on the stovetop, thanks to its classic structure and sophisticated colour options (by my description: oxblood red, forest green, dove grey, royal blue.)
There are two drawbacks, the first being that this pot is extremely heavy, so, yes, it will last for generations, but you probably won't be able to lift it after the age of 70.
Oh, well. That's the weight of quality.
Second, it costs a bomb – but then, so does a barbecue, and the meats you cook in a cocotte can be up to four times cheaper than anything destined for a grill (beef shank versus ribeye, lamb neck versus leg), so it's arguable that a good cocotte pays for itself over time.
The most important functional features of the Staub cocotte are that it heats evenly (getting seriously hot when you want it to) and holds that heat, so you can sear meats and fry vegetables until they have a caramelized edge; it also has self-basting spikes on the underside of the lid, so that as moisture rises during cooking it's trapped in and sent back down, continuously basting the food. Can you not smell those juicy beef cheeks braising in Barolo already?
If you own a Staub cocotte, 'tis the season to dust it off. If you don't:
$509.99 from the Hudson's Bay Co.
Do you know of a genius domestic product? If so, Laura wants to hear about it. E-mail email@example.com.