Cooking with copper

Guest post: Amy’s Entree to Copper

Amy L.

Amy L.


Drum roll please…!

My First Time Cooking in CopperI cooked in tin lined copper for the first time last week!

I made my debut by cooking in my 8-inch BIA Cordon Bleu sauté pan!

In the comment section of a previous post on my pan, I shared my honest desire to patiently wait to have restoration work done on it… I clearly wasn’t successful with that. Luckily, my haste worked out for the best!

I admit, deep down I already knew what work I wanted to have done to my pan. My sauté needed new tin badly, and I wanted to give it a fresh start with some light polishing that would not alter its well-defined hammering marks (thank you again Martin for pointing this out and its connection to vintage Mauviel!) As days passed, I daydreamed about cooking in my pan and beginning my journey cooking in copper. Within about a week, I caved in and reached out to Jim, the owner of East Coast Tinning. As luck and fate has it, Jim’s workshop is located not only in my state, but it is also a short ten-minute drive from my house! My experience working with Jim was excellent, and I highly recommend his business.

A Vegetable Stir Fry Burrito

As this was my first time cooking in tin lined copper, I decided to stick to what I knew best. I tossed together a vegetable stir fry that I turned into a veggie burrito. In my opinion, vegetable stir fries are quick, easy, and fool proof meals to prepare, which made this a great option. I began making stir fries in college, when I wanted to whip up quick and easy meals that had more nutritional value than prepackaged ramen noodles, cup noodles, and other not-so-good-for-you foods that my friends were eating. Now in my early 30s, I am even more health conscious and appreciative of the fiber and vitamins packed into lightly cooked vegetables. Vegetable stir fries keep me feeling full and full of energy, which is a total win!

Preparation

Last week’s stir fry included some of my favorite, common vegetables: carrots, red and green peppers, zucchini, and onions. I also planned on including freshly minced garlic; however, the prep stage of my cooking was cut short, as my three large 3-year-old dogs decided it would be fun to chew on exposed drywall while I was busy in the kitchen. I have yet to discover who the culprit is, or who started what was likely a multi-dog charade, but my money is on my hyper golden retriever or my chocolate labrador, who has already required emergency foreign body surgery. As Yoda would say, “Troublemakers they are, but loved they will always be”.

My First Time Cooking in Copper

Cooking

After cleaning up the dogs’ mess and barricading them away from the room with exposed dry wall that is under construction, I finally began to cook.

I placed my sauté pan on a burner, poured olive oil onto it, and allowed the pan to heat on a low-medium setting. I have an old gas-powered stove, so the burners heat quickly and often expend more heat than what is indicated on the temperature gauges. I decided to be safe and start low and slow. Next, I added the vegetables in the order previously mentioned: carrots, red and green peppers, zucchini, and onions. I added one vegetable at a time, allowing the vegetables to cook before adding more vegetables to the pan. This resulted in all of the vegetables cooking to about the same texture while still maintaining a nice crunch. After adding the onions, I sprinkled the stir fry with garlic powder, salt, and Italian seasoning, tossing them around to spread the flavor evenly. I enjoy this blend of spices, as it adds a light and bright flavor to the mix.

Finally, I turned off the burner, transferred the vegetables into a plastic container, and placed about ¾ of the mix onto a wheat wrap, followed by a light sprinkling of shredded cheese. I ate the remaining vegetables out of the plastic container with a spoon, as I decided there weren’t enough remaining to save as leftovers. They tasted amazing!

My First Time Cooking in Copper

Reflections on My Experience

Since this was my first time cooking in tin lined copper, I don’t have any experiences to compare this to. However, this alone has made me aware of the magic that happens when cooking in copper compared to other cooking vessels, like my previous go-to nonstick Rachel Ray sauté pan. For instance, even though my copper pan is only 2mm thick, I recognized even heat distribution almost immediately after adding the first vegetable to the pan, the carrots. For a short while the carrots simmered alone, scattered throughout the pan with oil bubbling around them evenly as they softened. Ultimately, all of the vegetables cooked at similar rates and maintained similar textures as they were added to the stir fry and tossed around. The final product, when all of the vegetables were cooked, was delicious! It’s not a false statement that everything tastes better when cooked in copper! ; )My First Time Cooking in Copper

Therefore everything went well (sigh of relief)… However…

I made a mistake during the cleaning process. After transferring the vegetables into the plastic container, I let my pan cool for a short time before washing it with a soft sponge and mild dish soap. Not thinking and operating on auto-pilot, I washed the entire pan, including around the iron handle and the handle itself. This mistake wasn’t tragic, per se. My pan is fine. However, I need to remember not to wash every inch of it thoroughly, especially if the entire pan is not dirty, as I want to prevent oxidation. I’m not a fan of green gunk. Recognizing my mistake almost immediately, I thoroughly dried the pan with a dish towel, and dried around and underneath the handle with a paper towel. Other than that, cleaning the pan was a breeze!

One question, though: Are normal dish towels safe for drying copper pans, or should I invest in extra soft dish towels to prevent scratching my pans over time? Will this happen?

Next on my list: braised apple cider pork shoulder in a 10.25 inch oval cocotte that I purchased about a month ago from Fid and Bill of NormandyKitchenCopper. I’ll be venturing further out of my comfort zone by attempting this, so stay tuned! I’ll likely blog about this experience as well. Suggestions and input are ALWAYS appreciated!

East Coast Tinning

Jim deserves a shout out! Working with him was awesome! He is personable, knowledgable, and thorough, which is evident in the way he communicates about his work, and ultimately, the work that he does on copper pots and pans. I highly recommend his business if your copper needs new tin or some TLC. He also has his own line of American made copper cookware, Duparquet, and he makes silver lined and solid silver pots and pans, which is pretty incredible.


VFC says: Congratulations Amy! I love cooking with my copper pans — I feel like they make cooking easier for me to understand. For example, I can make small adjustments to temperature and see the change right away. This might be a minor thing to a more seasoned cook, but for a novice like me it makes me feel a lot more confident that I’m not going to mess up the dish. 

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13 Comments

  1. Amy, congratulations on cooking in tin-lined copper for the first time. It looks delicious! I have been sending my pans to Jim at East Coast Tinning and I agree with your favorable comments about him.

  2. Congratulations Amy on your cooking debut with copper! I also love these vegetable stews that don’t take a lot of work and still taste delicious. They are healthy anyway. Low to medium heat is almost always the right cooking method, just as you did it. As long as you think about it and are not distracted by dogs (your three are great guys), the phone, or kids, little can go wrong. Have fun cooking with copper!

    1. Thanks Martin! I really appreciate it! I’ve also taken note on your comment about towels – thanks for this information, too!

  3. Hi Amy,
    Congratulations. But be careful, kitchen-copper has great potential to become an addiction.
    And don’t worry, cooking in copper is a little bit magic but not rocket science* or some kind of
    witchcraft. Very many have done it before you and most will have appreciated.
    I wish you a lot of fun with your new passion.
    May a nice and heavy pot of soup always simmer on your stove – if necessary.
    Kind regards from Germany.
    Arndt

    * Jim should know best …

    1. Hi Arndt, thank you for your kind words and comment! You’re right that copper is well used and appreciated. Knowing this, and kindly being reminded of it, is so encouraging! The best way to learn is to practice, so I’ll continue cooking! Heavy warm pots of soup also sound wonderful during the cold months ahead! Thank you again!

  4. Hi Amy, normal dish towels are fine. For decades I have been using some made of 100% cotton, others made of a mixed fabrics of cotton and linen. They suck well and are guaranteed not to scratch the copper.

    1. Martin and Amy, my preference is for thicker 100% linen kitchen towels. I find them more absorbent than cotton. Charvet in France is my favorite — they supplied the “Bon Appetit” linen tea towels and aprons that Williams-Sonoma used to carry. I buy mine from this site in the UK: https://www.home-landing.co.uk (Look for the 100% linen ones — they are more expensive but so wonderful!)

  5. Oh yes, I love linen and have plenty of it (napkins, aprons, tablecloths, bed linen, bath towels, shirts, etc.), but like everything good, they are a bit more expensive. I get these fabrics from LinenMe directly from Lithuania (EU), where the flax is grown and the fabrics are woven.

    Here is the link to the US site: https://www.linenme.com/us
    VFC, thank you for your reference to another source of supply.

    My other cotton teal towels are still beautiful and too good to wear out as cleaning cloths.

  6. Thanks VFC and Martin! I’ll take a look at both sites! If certain products work really well I see them as investments, so I’ll look into picking up a few!

  7. Yet another great article Amy, It is super that you share your experiences with copper enthusiasts. Your attention to detail and descriptions of what you do are invaluable. – especially pre heating the pan on a low burner, great advice for any cook! Sharing also that cooking vegetables in copper is a rewarding thing to do and I agree, they do taste better! We use old Irish linen tea towels a gift from my Mum for our copper pans and lids and just use them to buff up after washing with soapy water – my old pots do get some special attention throughout the year with copper cleaner and metal polish for the handles, not too often but enough to keep them looking special. Thanks Amy – wonderful stuff!

    1. Thank you, Fid! This means a lot! I appreciate it! I’ve kept your advice about dusting, dish soap, and polishing in mind as I’ve been learning about copper. I’ve decided to polish my copper every two to three months, so long enough to enjoy developing patina before it becomes dark. My favorite stage of patina so far is the two month mark when a warm hue begins to develop. I’ll also be picking up some linen towels. It is helpful knowing that you and Bill use them as well! My general thought is, if we treat what we have well, it will last and continue working for us for years to come : )! Thank you so much again for the comment and support!

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