Saturday, June 5, 2010

I'm going to make some Puttanesca sauce in my Cocotte

So, I wanted to take a swing at the no-knead bread yesterday. To-wit, I whipped up a batch of the dough in my KitchenAid food processor. Yes, I know. That's cheating. Remember the words of the late Gene Upshaw, whose #63 I wore: If you're not cheating, you're not trying. Raider rule #1: Cheating is encouraged. Raider rule #2: See rule number 1.

Didn't I just praise Coach Wooden for doing it right? Aren't I a Raider-hater for life? Yes, but this is cooking. There is no cheating here. It's just free-form creative experimentation. Still, I am a cheater and I cheat.

To correctly make the no-knead bread, you must have a Dutch Oven, or a French Oven, or a Cocotte. It is one of those cast-iron pots, with a heavy cast iron lid. The kind you can put in the oven. It is better if it is enameled with porcelain. The problem is that I didn't have one.

Off I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% discount coupon. I was pissed. The selection sucked. They had a couple of 6.5 quart Le Creuset French Ovens. All of them had the plastic knobs that tap out at 400 degrees. They had none of the 18-10 Stainless steel replacement knobs. They didn't have my flame color either. I walked out.

Sur Le Table came to the rescue. They had a nice sale of Staub Cocottes. What is a Cocotte? It is the same thing as a Dutch oven, but the French like to call it a female prostitute. No bullshit. The term Cocotte means female prostitute in the French language.

I got the 7 quart black enameled oval for $199.95. They chucked in a pair of 1 cup little cocottes for free. I am not sure what I will use those for. In any case, they 7 quart Cocotte costs some $250, by itself, before shipping, through many outlets. I got a nice deal on these pieces.

So why did I chose Staub over Le Creuset? Number 2 tries harder. This is frequently the case, but this time it showed. Staub gave me more quarts for the money. Staub gave me a brass knob that is safe up to 500 degrees, which is essential for the no-knead bread. Staub gave me self-basting nubs for future use. Very nice stuff.

So I brought it home, cleaned it out, seasoned it with some olive oil, slapped the dough in there, and chucked it in the oven. Well... I heated it on the stove-top first. Less than an hour later, I had my bread.

It was a little flatter than I expected, but it had nice air-pockets (crumb) and a thick crunchy crust. That is success for the first time out. The Bread may have been flatter than I thought just because this is a pretty good-sized Cocotte. It's larger than ones used by the bakers in the video.

The bread was not as tasty as I had hoped. Next time some seasonings. Garlic and parmesan with some balsamic vinegar. The bread needs to season up a bit. The new mission is to increase and enhance the flavor.

So tommorow comes the natural and obvious choice! I have to make Puttanesca sauce in my Cocotte. What could be more fitting? Puttana means whore in Italian. Puttanesca sauce means whore sauce, or sauce the whore would make, in the Italian language. What in the world would be better made in a Cocotte than Puttanesca Sauce? You have to get the Italian Puttana together with the French Cocotte. What a perfect pair.