I've learned, through experience, that when creating (cooking, knitting, etc.) if one uses the best materials and the best tools for the job, both process and product will be more greatly appreciated. I've been cooking for a long time, and have amassed most of the tools I need, but have a few more items I'd like to add to the arsenal. Most of them are pots and pans to replace the set my parents gave me one year for my birthday when it seemed I'd be moving out soon and needed to collect some of the basics. They have obviously served me well if I'm still using them, but my skills have advanced quite a bit since then.
One of these items on my shopping list is a good dutch oven. I more often than not purchase whatever Cook's Illustrated recommends, and Le Creuset is the manufacturer of their favorite dutch oven, and the same one they use just about every other episode of America's Test Kitchen. The thing is, MSRP is $400. It goes for about $300 on Amazon or at Sur la Table. Last week I got an email from Sur la Table that they were marking down the Le Creuset, in stores only, so I took a look. Sure enough, the dutch oven of my dreams was on sale for just under $225. I bought that sucker and ran (otherwise I'd be late for the Knitting Guild meeting, but whatever).
When I finally get something special like this I try to make something in it that I couldn't have made before with the tools I had. Cook's Illustrated did a recipe for french onion soup a while back that required many hours in the oven and multiple reductions and deglazings, none of which my little non-stick dutch oven would have handled. Today was an icy day with nothing on the calendar, so I used it to tackle my first french onion soup.
Here are the four pounds of raw onions before popping them in the oven:
|Remind me to buy some onion goggles. Ouch!|
Here they are after a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes in the oven:
And this is after three or four deglazings:
|Look at all that dark browny flavor!|
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture after adding the broth, etc. and before eating some, but since I don't have any soup bowls that will go under the broiler, it wasn't very fancy looking. Just picture some french onion soup, and you'll get the picture.