Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.
Celebrity chef Mario Batali has teamed up with manufacturer Copco to produce a cookware line called Italian Kitchen. Chowhounds are really impressed with the enameled cast iron pieces. They’re well made and they perform beautifully. They’re comparable to Le Crueset, giant in the field of enameled cookware–but the Italian Kitchen stuff is much more affordable.
The 6-quart Dutch oven is excellent for soups and braising, stovetop or in the oven; the inside of its lid has spikes to keep the moisture from condensation in your dish, a feature of the super-expensive Staub line. The panini pan includes a heavy press to produce nicely grilled sandwiches and doubles as a grill pan that themiss says heats more evenly than her Le Creuset. The deep lasagna pan is a real heavyweight at 11 pounds, but does a magnificent job on anything in the oven. They all clean up very easily, and hounds aren’t shy about their love of the pretty colors in the line.
The Kitchen Essentials line includes a bunch of utensils and also pans of other materials, as well. The stainless steel pans get a big thumbs-down from Richard Somers, who ended up returning his for its abysmal performance.
opinions on Mario Batali’s cookware line
“I have to tell you, I was not prepared for what wound up coming out of my slow cooker,” says Langrrr. “I’d read about the ‘unctuousness’ of well-made carnitas–and that’s not even what I was trying to do. But what I’d put in…was transformed into this luscious, amazing dish.”
Langrrr uses two pork shoulders, but he has a large slow cooker, so adjust accordingly. Here’s his method:
Take 2 pork picnic roasts (pork shoulder with the skin still on), about 3.5 lbs. each, and separate the skin from the meat, but leave the skin attached. Rub the skin with salt and pepper, and sear the roasts in a skillet. Let them cool a bit, then rub cumin, garlic powder, and Penzey’s adobo seasoning (dried garlic, onion, Tellicherry black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin, and cayenne) both on and under the skin. Place the roasts in the slow cooker with two chopped onions and 1 cup chicken broth. At this point, the slow cooker insert may be refrigerated until you are ready to begin cooking. Cook 10 hours on low setting. Carefully remove roasts from slow cooker and brown under broiler to crisp skin. Separate fat from juices in slow cooker and reduce juices to make a sauce to serve with the meat.
LindaWhit notes that slow cookers newer than 15 years old or so cook at higher temperatures than the original models, and if you have a newer one, you will need to shorten the cooking time considerably, as 10 hours on low will lead to considerable overcooking. Chuckles the Clone says he’s had good luck cooking similar recipes in a tightly sealed Dutch oven in a 250F oven for 10 hours.
OMIGOD–The Most Amazing Pork in the Crock-Pot!!!!
If you want to try your hand at making your own root beer, here some companies that supply kits. Results have been mixed.
LisaN bought a home root beer kit from Leeners and says it contains everything you need. The mixture needs to stay cool, though; a heat wave compromised her efforts!
Ricepad used the kit from Hearth Song, and immediately produced “the best root beer he ever tasted”. Subsequent batches were a little less successful.
ChrisVR has used beer-wine.com for beer brewing and cheese making supplies They have a soft drink kit, as well. The staff there is helpful and informative.
Recs for Make-Your-Own Rootbeer kits?
Breyer’s has released the strangest flavor of them all: fried ice cream. To be exact, it’s “cinnamon caramel light ice cream swirled with honey caramel, with cinnamon tostada pieces”!
Breyer’s has long been a popular grocery store brand, well-priced, with all-natural ingredients. Now they’re adding some of that “gum” stuff, say the chowhounds, and the ‘hounds are miffed.
Breyer’s Fried Ice Cream flavor
Smack in the middle of a week during which TV Land will attempt to debunk “some of pop culture’s darkest mysteries,” we will learn whether Julia Child really did drop a chicken in the middle of filming her show and proceed with cooking it.
Snopes—a site that is exceedingly useful for those friends of yours who constantly forward around those urban-legend email scares—has already decided that La Child never did any such thing.
No one can place an accurate date on when the tale of a dropped viand began dogging Julia Child, but we do know it was being reported as a persistent rumor back in 1989. Its spread has no doubt been helped along by articles appearing in respected publications that passed some version of it along as fact.
Citing a Los Angeles Times piece on Julia Child’s biography, Appetite for Life, Snopes reproduces this quote from the review:
In one of her best-known television episodes, she flipped a potato pancake in the air and, instead of landing in the skillet, it plopped on the table. Julia simply looked straight into the camera and said, ‘You just scoop it back into the pan. Remember, you are alone in the kitchen and nobody can see you.’
Snopes adds, “Child admitted time and again to the potato pancake incident but always firmly maintained she never dropped a chicken, duck, or whatever else the rumor has ascribed to her.”
With that mystery solved, I think I’ll still tune in to see if Gilligan’s Island really was a metaphor for hell or if Mama Cass did die by choking on a ham sandwich.
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