Product Type: The Pampered Chef gadgets
Newest Review: ... and decide I can be bothered after all. Pampered Chef's stoneware makes this so much easier. Pampered Chef is ace. I was fortunate to re... more
My Super Stone
The Pampered Chef Stoneware
Member Name: Meggysmum
The Pampered Chef Stoneware
Advantages: Versatile, non-stick
Disadvantages: Heavy, washing up is a nuisance
Several years ago there was an epidemic of Pampered Chef parties in the small town where I live. We would congregate in each other's houses, drink wine, nibble tasty treats and ooh and aah over the extortionately priced kitchen utensils on show. To most of us it was a nice social event and if we felt sufficiently guilty about our hostess's hospitality we would purchase the cheapest item from the range. However there were a few items that really appealed to me and at one such event I decided to make a purchase.
I selected the large Pizza Stone. This circular stone slab is 13" in diameter with smooth, rounded edges and weighs in at a hefty 4lb. I can't remember the price but I think it was about £19.
Pampered Chef promote their stoneware collection a lot. The collection forms the cornerstone of their market and the products are available in a variety of shapes, either glazed or unglazed. The natural clay base from which the stoneware is made is supposed to provide excellent heat distribution and this should produce even results when baking.
My stone arrived a week or so after the party and was packaged in a thick environmentally friendly cardboard box accompanied by a small recipe card and a plastic scrapper for cleaning the stone. The box was quite substantial and I stored my stone in it for several years before it became too tatty and I threw it away. Due to the weight these products can be difficult to store as you don't want to risk them falling out of a cupboard as they would cause a nasty injury. Luckily I have a large food cupboard and I store it flat in there as I worry that it would chip some of my more delicate kitchenware if I stored it in my ordinary cupboards.
When the stone arrived it was pale beige in colour with a slightly matt surface. There were instructions which stated that it needed to be primed with a light covering of oil to make it non-stick before its first use. I used a small amount of olive oil and rubbed it lightly into the surface.
Although this is called a pizza stone it can be used to cook all sorts of different items. The manufacturers recommend that it is not used to cook large frozen items but otherwise virtually everything is suitable.
This stone has now become a staple cooking utensil in my house. I use it for frozen items such as oven chips, fish fingers or chicken nuggets which result in a nice crispy finish and no sticking. I regularly use it to cook chilled pizzas; I particularly like the thin crust type and these go lovely and crispy on the bottom but without burning. I also use the stone for making open-pies using a puff pastry base and then folding the edges around a multitude of fillings, these are family favourites and cook brilliantly on the stone.
Using the stone does mean that I tend to cook the food for a slightly shorter time than recommended by the manufacturer as it seems to transmit heat really well.
Great care has to be used when removing the stone from the oven and for quite a long time afterwards as it does stay extremely hot for a prolonged time. A good pan stand or other heat protection is needed to protect surfaces.
Since this is a stone rather than a non-stick tray it is really easy to cut items on it with a knife as the surface does not get damaged, you can also use metal utensils with no problems. This is really handy for pizzas and pies.
Washing the stone can be a bit of a nuisance. Stoneware cannot be put in the dishwasher or be washed with detergents as the surface is porous and can absorb the chemicals so the manufacturers suggest you soak the stone in water and then use the plastic scrapper supplied with the stone to clean it. Unfortunately because the stone is so big it doesn't fit in my washing-up bowl so I have to stand it up in the sink and wash it under running water. I try to be careful as I am a bit worried that the stone might scratch the sink surface but it doesn't seem to have ever damaged it. I have had the stone for a long time and food really doesn't ever stick and even if I have burnt something (luckily a rare occurrence, I am not that bad a cook!) it scrapes off easily. If the food has been particularly fatty I find that I have to use really hot water and a lot of scraping to remove the greasy film that I can detect.
When the stoneware arrives it is very pale but as it gets used more and more it becomes seasoned and becomes darker in colour. Mine is now a very dark brown with a slightly paler centre. The more seasoned the stone is the better its non-stick quality is. Although I have always found it easy to remove food it is not simpler than ever.
Due to the porous nature of the stone I was worried that it would carry smells and tastes and would taint other items that I cooked on it. This has never happened and the stone doesn't harbour any aromas as all.
I have used the stone successfully for a vast majority of foods but I soon worked out that is something was extremely fatty and would lose a lot whilst cooking such as party sized sausage rolls the stone wasn't a good idea. Since it is completely smooth with no lip then fat runs straight off onto the base of the oven or the floor making a delightful mess.
The large size of the stone also means that it is great for presenting large deserts as well, even if they are not cooked. There is no lip to make it difficult to remove portions and as I said before you can use sharp knives without a problem.
Although this was an expensive purchase I must say that I think I have got my moneys-worth as other non-stick trays I have used have come and gone when the surface got damaged but this one just keeps on going. Due to its appearance it is perfectly acceptable to use as a serving tray straight from the oven although good heat-protection is a must so it is very versatile. The stone is very heavy so you do have to be careful when using it as it would easily result in broken toes and a smashed stone floor if it got dropped.
Summary: A great product I would be lost without.
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