Shopping Cart: Anolon Cast Iron Braiser 

Kitchen essential adds tenderness, style


Along with grilling and roasting, braising is one of my favorite cooking methods, and is one of the most flavorful. It's also usually easy, since most braised foods don't require a lot of fuss or hands-on attention.

If you're not quite sure what braising means, here's a quick breakdown: "Braise" comes from the French word braiser, and it's a method of cooking that combines both dry and moist heat. Foods—often meats—are usually first seared or browned in a braising pan, and then cooked at a lower temperature in the covered pan, usually with a little liquid like broth or wine.

I tend to favor cast-iron pots for braising since they conduct heat well and are perfect for low-temperature cooking. The outcome is almost always tender, moist foods with loads of flavor.

One of my personal favorite kitchen essentials is my Anolon Vesta Cast Iron 5-Quart Covered Braiser ($129.99). Mine is a beautiful color that Anolon calls Paprika Red. Now, I really, really love products made by the French company Le Creuset, and I own a number of them. However, Le Creuset’s 5-quart braiser sells for $295, and my Anolon braiser seems every bit as solid and well-constructed as Le Creuset's, for less than half the price.

The good looks of the Anolon braiser makes it a perfect candidate for stove- or oven-to-table usage. It's got a stain-resistant black matte enamel interior that makes for easy searing and browning. The braiser features a really attractive and sturdy porcelain enamel exterior, and the self-basting lid sports an elegant stainless-steel handle. It's broiler safe, and perfect for everything from a coq au vin and beef daube to Moroccan tagine dishes and even Southern-style date-and-pecan pudding. This braiser also includes a limited lifetime warranty.

So, if you're looking for a high-quality gift that any cook would love to own, I highly recommend the Anolon Vesta Cast Iron 5-Quart Braiser.

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