Home Goods FTW

Last weekend I was at Home Goods with a friend when I spotted Le Creuset seconds. I was good though, and did not buy any on a whim. Although I did do a quick Google while there to see if they had the same lifetime warranty, which they seem to. :)

I still don’t know what process Le Creuset uses to determine which pots are “seconds” and which meet their quality standards. As far as I can tell the seconds just have any number of minor defects and are sold at a discounted price.

Anyhow, let me get on to the point. Tonight we decided to make “sukiyaki” and while I was contemplating which pot to use I remarked to Sean that a braiser sure would be nice and that I had seen one at Home Goods on the aforementioned shopping trip. Sean immediately said we should go get one. I guess he is still in that grateful-happy place that comes when your wife lets you have a new car. I even got to drive the Mini.

A short while later we were in Home Goods and I took a close look at the pots for the first time. I couldn’t see much wrong with them aside from some scratches that came from mishandling. The finishes also aren’t quite as pretty as some others, but not sure that has much to do with them being seconds. The colors were a light mustardy yellow, a dullish red, and the blue pictured above.

We found one on a bottom shelf that didn’t seem to have any scratches on it. I am still at a loss for what is wrong with the pot. My only thoughts are that it could possibly be the slight dappled discoloration around the inside of the lid or maybe a few tiny little pocks (air bubbles?) on the bottom. Regardless, the pot works fine and I was quite happy to save $60+ in purchasing it. So what if the color isn’t as pretty as some others.

Here is a crappy iPhone photo of the tiny pocks I was talking about:

After picking up the braiser I decided to have a quick look at the next aisle over. Good thing I did! I spotted a Kai knife box, and picked it up expecting it to be their low end Wasabi line. I was opening my mouth to say something along the lines of, “I wonder how the quality of their Wasabi line compares to Shun considering the price difference.” when I realized what I had in my hand. It was a Nakiri knife. And it wasn’t Wasabi, it was Shun. A Shun Pro Nakiri!

A nakiri was the next knife in my wishlist, but I didn’t expect to get it for a long time considering it is an expensive knife, I am out of slots, and hadn’t found a good reason to justify getting another knife beyond the lame “But they’re awesome and ‘Cooking With Dog’ lady has one!!” excuse. So how could I pass up this half priced knife??

I even offered to skip the braiser in lieu of the knife, but Sean understood and just muttered something about losing another Christmas gift idea and then headed towards the registers before I could find anything else to buy. Although, honestly, how could I have topped those two finds?

These two new toys were great for making dinner. We made “sukiyaki” which worked perfectly in the new pot and required plenty of chopping with the new knife. I use the quotes because it wasn’t really sukiyaki, just a recipe from an American cookbook that called itself sukiyaki and was somewhat similar to the actual dish. Anyhow, the knife was wonderful!! It let me cut the [partially frozen] beef so thin you could see through it.

Wow… this post got long! You are probably bored stiff if you are actually still reading my babbling about new kitchen stuff. I know I am weird. New knives and pots get me almost as giddy as new electronic gadgetry. I will shut up now.

A side tangent that I cut from the above novel…

Let me just say, Le Creuset makes wonderful pots! If you love cooking, or just have to cook, I highly suggest picking one up. You will be hooked!

I got my first Le Creuset dutch oven a few months ago and was immediately attached to it. You wouldn’t believe how easy they are to clean and how great they are for cooking a wide range of dishes. At first I was a bit paranoid about damaging the interior finish, but a couple weeks ago I found out exactly how hard it is to do that.

While cooking a rice & chicken dish I became engrossed in a book and forgot to stir. The bottom of the pot was covered in a solid film of burnt rice, although the rest of the dish didn’t suffer very much at all. Needless to say I sulked through dinner thinking about the permanent damage I must have done to my wonderful pot.

But it wasn’t ruined at all! On the contrary, I picked up a silicon pusher/turner and ran it across the bottom of the pot… the layer of blackened rice peeled up with little resistance. How wonderful is that?? Every time I clean my Le Creuset or my All Clad pots and pans I wonder why people even bother with non stick. It seems like the world has been convinced that any non-non stick pot is difficult to use/clean and will burn everything that touches it. I find it to be quite the opposite. Stainless steel and cast iron pots give much better results and are so very easy to maintain. Plus you don’t have to live in fear of some sharp metal thing accidentally touching the precious interior and ruining the non stick coating.

That brown stuff that sticks to the stainless steel or enamel? That is called fond. And it is damned tasty. You can make things in a stainless pot you could never with a non stick pot because of this fond, since you just don’t get much fond with non stick. But how do you get all that brown stuff off? With liquid. This is called deglazing. Just pour a little broth or wine or whatever in the pan. With a few strokes of a spatula all that fond will release into the liquid, adding all its wonderful flavor.