In 1996 Suzanne Vega dropped her album, Nine Objects of Desire, and not long after, you could hear her unique, unmistakable, smooth caramel and cinnamon voice emanating from radios around the world. Recently, the album found its way back into my life and I can’t get the title off my mind. Following Vega’s lead, I decided to share with you my Nine Kitchen Objects of Desire and accompany each object with a recipe that incorporates that object.
I’m not trying to sell you anything or suggest that you buy any of the nine objects. But I am offering the idea that you can find inspiration in everyday kitchen objects. There are worse things you could do. Without further ado, here is the first object: the Ruffoni Historia Hammered Copper Stockpot. Its beauty is only surpassed by its quality and performance.
The Ruffoni Historia Hammered Copper Stockpotis without a doubt my most beautiful piece of kitchen equipment, although it’s not the one I use the most. Hammered copper lined with tin, the stockpot is a showpiece that will make your kitchen look better just sitting on the stove.
Ruffoni Historia was created in 1962 in Omegna, Italy and the company continues to create some of the most beautiful pieces of copper I have had the pleasure of seeing. I first laid eyes on my beloved stockpot at a local Williams Sonoma, just after I’d received my first credit card! I have lugged my pot with me through many apartments and mama’s house—where it continues to shine and make me happy.
A word about copper cookware that isn’t a secret but is worth keeping in mind: They are a little work to keep in top shape and you do have to learn a few tricks to cook with them. They require polishing and the very day after you polish them you’ll see the slight darkening start. It’s a labor of love and one that should be done with an expensive polish made for the job. As for cooking with the stockpot, copper is known for its amazing conductive properties and therefore extreme heat isn’t necessary or desired. If you haven’t cooked with copper before, it will take some getting used to.
Copper pans are lined in tin (or stainless steel) to protect your food from extended exposure to copper because copper is reactive to acid. That copper acid combo can result in copper toxicity (something it’s best to avoid), thus the pot’s protective lining in tin or stainless steel. If you misuse your cookware, the tin lining can be damaged and, if so, you’ll need to have the pan relined. However, jam pots and egg white whipping bowls made of unlined copper are safe to use for their intended purposes without a problem (it’s complicated, but take my word for it).
Start looking in stores and online and see what the fuss is about. These pans are investments and if you find them at very low prices you should doubt their quality. Also, you can completely ignore the new “copper” pans that refer to the color and not the actual material and, in general, a pot’s price reflects this distinction. Remember, in cookware, you get what you pay for. The tin lining doesn’t stay pristine and you will never want to scrub it with abrasives so just ignore the discolored tin and enjoy the pots out beauty and performance.
So on to what I use my stockpot for the most: Corn chowder—one of my absolute favorite things to cook and eat from this pot (any pot, actually). This recipe will not do you wrong. I start by making a stock from smoked pork neck bones and the corncobs that have been stripped of their kernels. This stock has a deep, smoky pork and corn flavor and serves as a base for the chowder. At the end of cooking, the meat from the neck bones gets picked and added back to enrich the flavor of the chowder.
If you don’t eat pork, you can use a smoked turkey leg or some similar kind of thing. And for my vegetarian friends, simply use vegetable stock to cook the cobs in and some liquid smoke to mimic the flavor.
- 1 pound smoked neck bones (or other smoked meat such as turkey leg or wings)
- 5 large ears of corn
- 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups milk (I used 2 %)
- dash hot sauce
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the neck bones to the 5 cups of water and bring to a boil. While the water is coming up to a boil, cut the corn off the cob and “milk” the cobs by scraping the knife down it to remove all of the juices and flesh. Set the corn aside and add the cobs to the stock pot.
- Simmer the stock for 1 hour with a lid on.
- When the stock is done, remove the cobs and discard them. Remove the neck bones and set aside to cool. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any bone fragments that might have come from the bones. Add the milk to the stock and set aside.
- Wipe out the stock pot, add the butter and oil. Heat over medium heat and add the onions, celery, red peppers and carrots and stir well. cook for 5 minutes and then add the potatoes and garlic. cook for 5 minutes stirring often so the potatoes don’t stick.
- Add the flour to the vegetables and stir well. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the stock and stir well. bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes on a medium flame. Add the hot sauce and nutmeg and some salt and pepper while the chowder cooks.
- While the chowder is cooking, pull the meat from the neck bones and chop it up.
- Add the corn to the chowder and cook on medium low for 15 minutes, adding the pork meat during the last 5 minutes.
- Check the seasonings and adjust. If you want the chowder a little thicker, use an immersion blender in short bursts to break up some of the veggies.
- Let sit for at 20 minutes before eating.