I was looking to buy some casserole dishes that could be used on the hob and in the oven. I did consider buying a cast iron pot, but the price and the weight of them put me off.
I'd seen these Pyrex Pyroflam dishes advertised in my BBC Good Food magazine and they were £50 for a set of 3 different sized round dishes that all come with lids, which seemed like a good price to me:
- 1 litre (6.8cm deep x 16cm diameter)
- 2 litre (8.5cm deep x 20cm diameter)
- 3 litre (12.6 cm deep x 20cm diameter)
To give you some idea of how practical they are in terms of size:
* I have found the 1 litre dish the perfect size to make a deep Shepherd's Pie to feed 2 people.
* The 2 litre one is great for making a Bolognese/ragu sauce for 4 people.
* In the 3 litre one I have cooked a Beef and Ale Stew that will feed 6-8 people. I have also pot-roasted a whole 1.5kg chicken in this dish. It was a tight squeeze and the bird had to sit diagonally in the pot, but it still cooked perfectly OK.
Pyrex have always made reliable cookware, but what makes these Pyroflam dishes so different?
Well they are made from a material called Vitro-Ceramic which is a unique material that is so heat resistant and durable that it was used by NASA in the design of the Space Shuttle - who would have thought cookware would become rocket science?!
The appeal of these dishes is that you should only need one dish to prepare, cook, serve and store your meals. This is because they can be used directly on any hob (except induction), in microwaves, ovens and under the grill.
They are also freezer and dishwasher proof. They claim that you can use them directly from the freezer to a heat source, but I don't know of anything that I would be happy to cook without defrosting thoroughly first, so I haven't tested this claim. I have put them directly from the fridge into the oven and it has been absolutely fine, as they are made to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures between -40ºC and +800ºC. So unless you're going to be cooking on a jet engine you should be fine.
I have found them very easy to clean after a nice long soak in a Fairy bubble bath, because the surface is nice and smooth, non porous and stain free. I have cleaned off some seriously burnt on food (for testing purposes of course, not because I had the gas too high, hahaha!) and they still look good as new, so top marks for ease of cleaning.
So what are they like to cook with? Well at first it seemed a bit alien to be putting the dishes directly on the gas hob, because they are light and quite thin and you think that they might break. But they are made of strong stuff and nothing untoward happens as you crank up the heat to preheat them for 2 minutes, as suggested in the little manual that comes with the dishes. You're then advised to reduce to heat to medium-low to ensure even cooking without burning (OK I admit I didn't read the manual before using them when I burnt the food!). So if you follow the instructions then you will be able to successfully brown your bits of meat or onions to a nice golden colour.
They are brilliant at retaining heat and I have found using them on the hob and in the oven to be very good. I would like the handles on the dishes to be a big bigger, because when using them on the hob you have to use an oven glove to hold it steady as you stir your food and it is a bit difficult to grip. Also, the clear glass lids have a handle on the top, which means they aren't as easy to stack for storage as the old style Pyrex casserole dishes, so points get deducted for this design flaw.
I would also prefer the dishes to be a bit shallower and wider in diameter, so that it would be easier to fit a whole chicken or joint of meat inside. I think an oval design would be much better. A wider surface area would make it easier to brown more pieces of meat in a single batch, but then again the limited space does force you to not overload the pan which is a good thing.
Overall, I think this is a good set of casserole dishes as they are multi-purpose and they should last a long time. They come with a 25 year guarantee so that is added peace of mind. I think they are an excellent alternative to the expensive cast iron pots.
These dishes are also available to purchase separately.
Set of 3 / Lids included