Kitchn Love Letters

The Super-Cute, Wildly Functional Kitchen Find I Bought After a Trip to Paris

published Jul 19, 2021
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A clean, natural-lit white kitchen with wood countertops
Credit: Lana Kenney

A side effect of eating in Paris is an almost irresistible urge to bring home food-related souvenirs. And, sometimes, the things you think you absolutely must have don’t make the most sense once you get back home. How often, exactly, do any of us really need a truffle slicer or escargot forks? 

It’s better, I’ve learned, to wait until you’re home and think about what spoke to you. That’s how I ended up with the most adorable, teeny-tiny enameled cast iron cookware known to kitchendom. 

But first, let’s talk about how I came across them. Flashback years ago to dinner in a quintessential bistro on a rainy night in Paris’ 18th arrondissement. It was the kind of night that called for French classics (think: bone marrow, French onion soup, and beef bourguignon … served in the most precious little cast iron pots I’d ever seen). I hadn’t come across the brand before, or these personal-sized Dutch ovens. The maker was Staub, and I was smitten, cooing over these little guys even more than the (delicious!) food itself. 

I didn’t come across any in my usual kitchen shopping haunts on that trip, nor the next time I came to Paris a year later. But I didn’t stop thinking about them, window shopping online from time to time to admire them. But, they were fairly expensive, so I couldn’t bring myself to buy them.

But then 2020 arrived, and with it, a year without — among other things — Paris. At Christmas time, I thought we needed a little joy by way of French dining. I stumbled upon a surprisingly good deal, a trio for $60, and decided to spring for them as a gift for my husband, who does most of the cooking in our home. 

Credit: Dana McMahan
Cassoulet in a mini cocotte is too cute.

He was suitably excited, and neither of us could wait to try out the sleek, little cocottes. A chance came when we spent a weekend making cassoulet (I mean, what else was there to do during that long winter of COVID-19 quarantine than make a multi-day southwest French extravaganza of duck, pork, and beans?) They were too tiny to make the dish itself, of course, so we made it in our Milo Dutch oven. Then we filled up three teeny versions in the cocottes to bring to friends and, let me tell you, we won the award for Best Neighbors that day! (It was promptly taken away when we said we’d need our mini pots back when they were done.)

Besides cassoulet, these mini Staub cocottes are perfect for serving portions of soups and stews and individual shepherd’s pies and desserts. They’re also fun as a stand-in for the sort of tiny bowl you need when you’re cooking or setting the table. Swap a standard ramekin for a cocotte and your tablescape is exponentially cuter!

While I have pretty limited space to display things in a kitchen (no upper cabinets and only a couple of plate racks!), the mini cocottes immediately took a place of honor. Besides their beautiful design, which would be enough in and of itself, they remind me of Paris, travel, and all the amazing meals still to come, every time I see them. 

Do you have mini cocottes like these? Tell us about them in the comments!