Oct 11, 2011

One thing leads to another...

Last week, I found myself gravitating toward the Le Creuset store while swimmer girl and one of my "other daughters" (friends of swimmer girl that I happily adopt on a temporary basis now and then) were prowling through yet another boutique.

I love my Lodge Dutch oven. (Remember?) But even I know the gold standard of Dutch ovens is Le Creuset - unless you are a Staub fan. They're both made in France and both makers are extremely proud of their products, which is reflected in their hefty price tags. I had no plans to buy another Dutch oven, but it is fun to look. (I took a long gander at the Staubs while in Williams-Sonoma a few days later. Again, killing time while the girls bushwhacked their way through the labyrinth of shoe stores and other shops.)

Anyhoo, back to Le Creuset. As soon as the clerk heard me utter the word "Lodge," she put on her best French-American accent and tsk-tsk-ed me for buying a cheap Chinese import. (Yes, Lodge cast iron is made in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, but their enamelware processing is in China, thanks in large part to the laws that make it impossible to manufacture them on American soil.) I gently rebuffed her overtures and promised that if/when my Lodge fails, I will be looking to upgrade to the real deal. In the meantime, I'll live with the chips in the rim of my Dutch oven.

I found two treasures while I was there. One was a marked-down jam/marmalade jar in "flame" (aka ORANGE) 

and a small cassoulet in the same screaming shade:

In generalities, I was familiar with cassoulets and the distinctive shape of the dish they are prepared in (and why), but I bought this cute little number as a small side bowl for vegetables or relish.  (Another terrible faux pas in the eyes of the Le Creuset store staff, I'm sure.)

After I left with my purchases tucked away, I started contemplating cassoulet.

And the fact I've never made one.

With weather starting to turn cooler, it's more conducive to heavy, rich dishes full of meat and beans. So I did a little research, satisfied myself there is no "right" way to make one (it's a regional food, much like gumbo or chili - everybody's got their opinion as to what ingredients are authentic and which are blasphemy.) I'm ready to take a stab at it for Sunday's big meal.  Lardons (salt pork), chicken (because you can't find ducks, let alone duck leg quarters in just any old grocery store), cannellini beans, chorizo and all the spices are on hand to give it a whirl.

And...I will cook it in my Lodge Dutch oven, which surely elicits a "Sacrebleu!" somewhere in the universe.

Happy cooking,

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