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Published: Tuesday, 11/6/2007

Cast iron cookware goes from stove top to oven to table

Beautiful cast iron cookware that goes from stove top to oven to table is a popular item in housewares stores today.

"The popularity of cast iron has been building for the last five years," says Chris Tracy of Calphalon. "Stores have been looking for a way to get fashion into cookware. Color is one way."

Colors can be seasonal, such as red heart-shaped cookware for Valentine's Day. Pumpkin-shaped orange and brown hues are popular in the fall.

"It opens up the possibilities," says Mr. Tracy regarding cookware design.

Last August, Calphalon joined the companies that have cast iron lines, including Le Crueset and Chantal. Mario Batali has some cast iron pieces, too, according to Mr. Tracy.

The Calphalon pieces have contemporary design and offer durable enamel cast iron, which is perfect for slow cooking, whether it is a cassoulet, a salt cod dish, osso bucco, or the Butternut Squash Risotto from Chef Michael Symon of Lola and Lolita restaurants in Cleveland and Parea in New York City.

Calphalon Enamel Cast Iron comes in Cabernet Red, Chive Green, and Custard Yellow. The 5-quart size is $129.99 and the 8 quart size is $179.99.

In the Dutch oven, the bottom is ideal for browning ingredients prior to adding liquids and seasonings. Large oval handles make it easy to move from stove top to oven to table, but cast iron is heavy.

Cast iron is perfect for the longer cooking times of slow cooking. It doesn't heat up as fast on the stove top but when it does it has consistent heat, including when it is placed in the oven.

An additional note: As of this date, Mr. Symon is among the three finalists in the Food Network's The Next Iron Chef show, which began with eight chefs. Also among the trio is San Francisco's Chris Cosentino and John Besh of New Orleans.

The winner will be revealed during the series finale at 9 p.m. Sunday and will begin his reign as Iron Chef in a Thankgiving-themed episode of Iron Chef American on Nov. 18.

- Kathie Smith

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