Kitchenware Direct generously gave me the Le Creuset oven to product test. You can pick up a Le Creuset item of your own from Kitchenware Direct, taking advantage of their Le Creuset Bonus Voucher Offer currently running. When you purchase over $150 worth of Le Creuset in one transaction from now till June 30th, you will get a $50 voucher. Check out the fantastic and sexy full range of Le Creuset kitchen ware. I can't wait to grow my Le Creuset collection soon.
The French oven that I got holds 4.3L, or in food terms, about 4 lamb shanks or 8 large chicken thighs. This is more than sufficient to feed 6-8 people when you cook something in the oven. The oven is cast iron, so heat is distributed evenly and retained for longer. The well fitted lid ensures that moisture and flavour is locked inside the food. The beautiful enamel finish not only makes it fantastic to look at and display, bit also keeps it hygienic and free of annoying odours.
To Christen my oven, I decided to cook my favourite Winter comfort dish, Braised Lamb Shanks. I decided to try the easiest recipe first, using My Aching Head's posted recipe. I made a small adjustment by not coating it in flour, which I find a bit gluggy. Instead I just seal the meat as is. This recipe is so easy that anyone can do it. After the little bit of initial cooking, you just put the French oven into the gas oven and leave it alone for an hour or so. Turn the meat once, cook for another hour and it's all done.
The results of the dish are amazing. The meat is super tender, with the sauce thick and full of flavour. The onions are so soft and fall apart. All the flavours amalgamate together to form a lovely comforting Winter's dish. I will be making this again and again before Winter's over, as it's so easy with the Le Creuset oven. Using a baking tray in the past resulted in less tender meat and the flavour not as concentrated. Also it was fiddlier to use different pans to seal the meat, then a baking try to cook it in, then cover the baking tray in foil. The Le Creuset is an all in one item. You can cook anything in it, and I've already done chicken with mushroom, onion and red wine. I'm going to do Pig Trotters next week, and try cooking Gravy Steak with Capsicum and Paprika the week after. I can't wait to eat lots of slow braises throughout this Winter. I can't rate this French oven highly enough and recommend you buy one to cook your own dishes in. The results are so brilliant for so little effort. I can see why the French love to cook braises of all types in these French ovens. Two books I would recommend for slow braises are Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Ripailles.
I've added some photos of some more dishes I've made using my Le Creuset oven. I love it so much and it works so well for any type of meat and makes them all so tender and flavoursome. My favourite dish is still definitely the lamb shanks but the pig's trotters are a close second.
Left: Chicken thighs with bacon rashers, onion using a chicken stock.
Middle: Pig's trotters with Chinese dried mushrooms and chestnut.
Right: Soy chicken wings with garlic.
Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine
INGREDIENTS (Serves 4)
4 lamb shanks
1 wine glass of red wine
1 large tin of crushed tomatoes
2 large brown onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs parsley + parsley or basil to garnish
1) Sprinkle salt and pepper onto lamb shanks. Brown shanks in hot olive oil in the Le Creuset oven.
2) Take out the lamb shanks from the Le Creuset oven. Add garlic to the oven and cook until aromatic. Add the wine to deglaze the oven and get all the beautiful brown bits of flavour off the oven base.
3) Add back the lamb shanks and the rest of the ingredients.
4) Put the lid on the Le Creuset oven and put into the baking oven at 160 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours or until the meat falls off the bone, turning the meat once in between.
5) Garnish with herbs and serve with crusty bread to dip up the wonderful rich sauce.