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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Ham Chowder

One of the reasons I chose our new Italian made Lagostina Collezione Pro cookware set aside of the high quality was it really was a 'set' but rather a mult-material collection of cookware.  One of the pieces of the set was a 4.7L (5 qt)  enameled cast iron Dutch oven, orange no less.  I would have preferred red but the reality for me when it comes to kitchen equipment is colour is always second to quality and function.  In this respect, the Lagostina Dutch oven excels in both quality and function.  The lid has a self-basting design for optimal steam recirculation.   It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven.  The Dutch oven included in the Collezione Pro collection is actually part of Lagostina's Tuscan collection as well so matching pieces can be bought separately.

ham chowder
While the new Dutch oven was the same size as my older Lagostina Renaissance stainless steal Dutch oven, I had reservations on how I would use it.  Seriously, for me it was aesthetics because in my mind the enamel coated Dutch oven did not look like a pot that could be used on the stovetop.  At the same time the idea of searing meat for soups and stews then cooking in the same pot in the oven intrigued me. 

We had a lovely family gathering for Easter so I had left-over spiral ham to use up.   I decided to test out the new Dutch oven with a ham chowder.  The weather has been taking its time warming here so we are still into cold weather foods.  The end result was a delicious, creamy yet chunky chowder perfect for a cold spring night.

Ham Chowder
(recipe by Garden Gnome)

1  ham bone
8 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
1 small onion
2 c cooked ham, diced
1 c instant potatoes
1 c frozen sweet peas
1 c frozen whole kernel corn
1 c half & half

Place ham bone in large Dutch oven or stock pot.  Cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and low simmer for 20 minutes.  Peel potatoes and cut into bite size pieces.  Peel and dice carrots.  Finely chop onion.  Stir potatoes, carrots and onion into the stock pot with the bone.  Return to boil then reduce heat to high simmer.  Cook until potatoes and carrots are tender.  Remove the bone.  Scoop out half of the vegetables and set aside.  Use an immersion blender to smoothly blend remaining vegetables and stock.  Add the instant potatoes slowly while stirring to keep a smooth consistency.  Stir in reserved vegetables, peas, corn and ham.  Return to a low simmer.  Stir in half and half.  Cook until heated through.  Ladle into bowls for serving.

Despite being a bit leery on the new enamel coated Dutch oven, I quickly fell in love with it.  The ham chowder cooked beautifully in this vessel with no over heating and residual heat in the cast iron kept the chowder nice and warm for seconds.  A couple of days later I made a no-knead crusty bread (boule) in the new Dutch oven.  The bread was beyond delicious and was my first successful homemade crusty bread with chewy interior.  The enamel coated Dutch oven cleans up nicely and gives good results.  I'm impressed enough with its performance I plan on buying a matching smaller one the next time they are on sale.

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