My husband loves to give me kitchen presents, and he invariably misses all my broadest hints and instead picks up on the most unexpected things. One of the latter was something about Emile Henry cookware--we were shopping somewhere and saw a piece--so for Christmas he gave me a black Emile Henry 6 quart stewpot, the elongated douffur (sp?) style.
I'm embarrassed to admit that until last week's corned beef, I hadn't used it yet. But that day I had to be gone most of the afternoon, so I put the corned beef in the Emile Henry and added water, paprika, mint and bay leaf as is my usual for corned beef, and put it in a slow oven (225 or 250, can't recall which), lid full on.
When I removed the lid six hours later, I was shocked when I took off the lid and found that the fat cap on the corned beef was beautifully brown and crusty. A wonderful development, completely unanticipated, suggesting that there's something very special about this ceramic. I recall reading a comment of Paula Wolfert's about some bean dish for which she emphatically recommended Emile Henry because no other cookware she knew of would achieve X result. She might have been talking about the crusting on a cassoulet, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I do vividly remember thinking "yeah, sure" at the time, and that was pretty much what I said when Bob and I saw that Emile Henry piece. Only, Bob didn't remember the shrug, only the name.
Thank goodness! There IS something special about this stuff. Can't wait to roast a chicken. Is anyone else a fan?