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By: Amy Rutherford

Now that Pippin Toy Co. is open, and we are sending everyone there to buy their toys (although we still have plenty!), we wanted to find something new to offer our customers at Red Barn Mercantile. The natural selection for me was to increase our cooking and kitchenware. I love to cook. And, by cook, I mean follow a recipe. As much as I wish I were, I’m not one of those gifted people who can whip up something from whatever is in the pantry. Give me a good recipe from a trusted source and I’m all in! I’m happy to spend hours in the kitchen chopping, sautéing, simmering, braising, and more.

I’ve been wanting to expand this section of the store for years, ever since La Cuisine closed. Now, let me be clear, absolutely no one will ever compare to Nancy and her team. Especially not me. I wouldn’t even attempt to. Since her departure I think we are missing some of her magic here in Old Town. Sur La Table is great, but this is a town that loves their locals, so someone has to do it and it might as well be Red Barn Mercantile. I mean, sign me up!  We have already brought in Smithey cast iron and now we are excited to bring in Staub, a 50-year-old French line of enameled cast iron cookery.

Started in 1974 in Alsace, France, Staub makes heirloom quality cookware durable enough to last a lifetime in every home cook’s or professional’s kitchen.  It’s often compared to the more well-known Le Cruset, but in our book, Staub edges out the competition for many reasons. Here are just a few:  

Quality control: Each piece undergoes a lengthy, multi-step quality control process that takes about a month. Every piece is handled by more than 20 different people during it.

Wall thickness: A considerable amount of the quality control process is spent ensuring a uniform wall thickness. This is a hallmark of Staub, and they have spent millions on machinery to create that uniformity. For if the wall thickness is uneven the piece could pop or crack in the oven.

Black interior: Staub’s black interior – as compared to Le Cruset’s white enamel interior – more effectively browns meat evenly, doesn’t stain, and can build up a seasoning over time. Though some critics say it can be harder to see rogue food bits when cleaning up, the pros outweigh the cons.

The lid: While most Dutch ovens have a rounded lid to make basting easier, Staub’s lid is flat. To mitigate that and make basting easier, Staub’s lids have “self-basting” spikes inside them that send condensation dripping back down into the center of the pot to help keep food tender and moist. The flat lid also helps to store the piece and, frankly, is a prettier design.

The handle: All Staub Dutch ovens come with a metal handle instead of a plastic one. This allows for a higher cooking temperature when in the oven. The handles can also be changed with decorative pigs and roosters so you can infuse your piece with a little bit of your personality.

Enamel glaze: Each piece is coated with three layers of glass colored with minerals. Not only does this process produce a beautiful effect, but the extra layers also make it extremely durable and scratch-resistant.

We are just dipping our toe into these waters, and our selection is well curated. However, we are so excited to offer this wonderful new line of cookware. Come in to Red Barn Mercantile today, and check out our selection of Staub!