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After watching molten cast iron being dramatically poured into cauldrons (winningly referred to as "ladles") and molded into cocottes at the Staub foundry in Merville, France, stepping into the enameling area was like entering a science lab. Well, a science lab run by your favorite art teacher. This enameling step is where color comes into play: Pigment is mixed with shards of glass called "frits," crushed into a powder, watered to make a slurry, and sprayed onto the inside and outside of each cast iron pot by a worker before being fired in a kiln. Once coated a few times and cooled, each cocotte gets a glinting metal handle on the lid—applied one at a time, all by hand.
We'd gone all the way to Merville to watch this foundry in action mainly, and simply, because we love Staub's cookware. But there was another reason, too: Today marks the launch of Food52 x Staub, our exclusive line of navy blue enameled cast iron pots outfitted with warm, glinting brass handles.
You'll have to stay tuned to see every step of the process in the life of a cocotte, but we're sharing a little glimpse in the video below in celebration of today's exclusive launch. And read on to hear why, precisely, we love this enameled cast iron cookware.
Why enameled cast iron?
Every exposed inch of a Staub cocotte is enameled by the process mentioned above: The inside gets a coat with black pigment and a matte finish, while the exterior features a color and a glossy finish. That means the surface you're cooking on is actually a thin layer of highly-functional glass enameling—it has all the strength of cast iron, but none of the tedium of maintaining it. Here's why we love cooking with it:
- The look. Staub's richly glossy colors are a tightly-curated few (they're currently producing eight, plus the classic matte black), and not just because fine-tuning a new color can take months of testing and production. Rather than bend to every new color trend, they aim for a timeless palette and finishes that really deeply gleam rather than just glint.
- Protective properties. A good enameled cast iron won't rust the way regular cast iron might, because every inch of the surface is covered, and it won't scratch like a nonstick. Staub's quality testing phase of production is meticulous, too: Each product is checked, individually, between eight and ten times as it's coming to life to be sure it holds up exactly the way it should in your home kitchen.
- Lastingness. The finish on a Staub cocotte or French oven will last your whole life, and then some.
- Versatility in cooking. A piece of Staub cookware is cast iron through and through under the enamel coating—but you need not season it, nor tiptoe around acidic ingredients, nor worry about whether the sponge you run over it has traces of soap in it. The enameling can take anything you throw at it: Searing, stewing, soup-making, braising, and well beyond.
- Easy cleaning. You can use regular dish soap to wipe enameled cast iron clean, since it isn't actually seasoned at all, and a mild abrasive like Bar Keeper's Friend will lift away any dark spots that appear from the food and heat.
Stay tuned for our big behind-the-scenes reveal, and find our entire new line of blue and brass Staub in the Food52 Shop!