In the past twelve months a Staub Cocotte has become my new favorite kitchen tool. Staub is a family-owned French company specializing in enameled cast iron culinary products. All their products are made in France, and worth the hefty price you’ll pay for these imports.
About a year ago, I was sick with the flu, and couldn’t leave our loft. My husband surprised me by going to Williams & Sonoma and picked up a 9 Quart Staub Cocotte in Graphite to cheer me up. It’s round, 12 inches in diameter and 5 1/2 inches high. It weighs in at an incredible 17 pounds, 5 ounces with lid.
Oddly enough, you can find slightly different sizes on Amazon.com, and not the same size my husband saw at Williams & Sonoma. Sadly, the North American Staub site isn’t much help on this matter, as all the measurements are in Metric, and little effort has been made to accommodate their American audience, including some awkward translations from the French and size charts breaking up with crazy bitmapped resolution.
The Staub Cocotte is versatile, and I haven’t had disappointing results from it yet. I use it for braising, soups and slow-cooked meals. It is one of my favorite kitchen accessories. It sits in a place of honor on my stove even when I’m not using it.
Staubs are essentially indestructible. They are seriously heavy, due to the cast iron, but I think their real secret is the multi-coat enamel. Le Creuset is Staub’s chief competitor, and after researching and speaking to a few chefs, my mind was made up to go with Staub.
The interior of Staub cookware is praised by many as being superior to Le Creuset. The inside of a Staub seems to be slightly more porous than the smooth Le Creuset, and many claim this helps with seasoning each time you cook in it. They’re easier to clean, and with the black coating, you never have to worry about it staining the way I’ve seen many an interior of a Le Creuset.
Staub lids have nubs which help channel boiled-off juices back down to continually baste whatever you’re cooking. I can’t stress how much this simple engineering helps the taste of my dishes. My guests can’t believe how moist my meats are, and how flavorful everything is I make in it.
When I met my husband, he had a few Le Creuset pieces, the enamel coating chipped off here and there. Not only is this unsightly and hard to accept from top-shelf cookware, but once the enamel is gone, you very quickly get surface rusting on the exposed iron. Yuk. Also, you guessed it, his had a slight patina of beige in them from years of use. No matter how hard you scour the inside of them, that white coating will show stains. When you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on one pot, it’s hard to get used to the fact that it will eventually become stained forever. This is not the case with a Staub.
The number of original recipes I’ve created in this Staub is high. I’ve written and posted about a few of them here, including my Tequila Three Bean Chili, Classic Pot Roast with Pale Ale and Red Wine, Very Oniony Onion Soup, and Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup. I’ve also made my fair share of classics created by others in it.
Slow cooking is wonderful in the Cocotte, too. I’ve done pork shoulder, braised beef short ribs, and coq au vin. Braising, slow cooking, soups—the Staub Cocotte has become my main accessory in the kitchen. Turned out my day wasn’t so bad after all!