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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Kitchen Gadgets & Appliances / La Cotta Steak Maker ~ Review & Demo
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    La Cotta Steak Maker ~ Review & Demo

    Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:41 am Groupie

    After having a question posted here inquiring about recipes for the La Cotta pan I was intrigued. It was a pan I'd never heard of before, and finding information about it online was difficult.
    Probably because it was such a unique item, I got sucked into buying one off of Ebay. icon_lol.gif

    I was so excited to receive it, but life got in the way of trying it out until several months later. I've now had a chance to use it twice, and hopefully my experience will help others looking to buy or trying to make use of the La Cotta pan.

    I was able to dig up several years worth of advertisements for the pan; all from various magazines ranging from 1971 to 1977. I found it interesting that the price of the pan never went above $9.95, and in particular that in the 1976 Popular Science magazine add, we were only asked to pay $1 per order to partially cover postage and handling.

    After reading through the ads I started thinking that this pan was kinda like the original "As Seen On TV" product. icon_lol.gif

    So what makes it so special? The ads claim that it is made from volcanic rock found only in Northern Italy; that it is 5 different types of "lead-free" stones ground fine, and then formed into this revolutionary pan. The porous nature of volcanic rock pulls out acidity, bitterness and fat from your meat, leaving you with nothing but the meat's natural flavor.

    Ad from a 1971 issue of The Rotarian Magazine:

    Ad from the September 1974 issue of Women's Weekly Magazine:

    Ad from a 1976 issue of Popular Science Magazine:

    Well, it's time for my official review of the product.
    It's approximately 40 years old, and arrived with a rope tied around it to hang the pan on the wall. It looked like it had never been used, based on my experience with other stoneware baking pans and pizza stones.

    This is what mine looked like when I received it:

    The online instructions I found at The Healthy from 25 to 100 Blog were the original instructions for the pan, but I quickly found that they weren't very specific on a very important step in preparing the pan for use.

    My first attempt at cooking a thick piece of flat-iron steak was somewhat of a disaster. Since the pan is rather small, I cut my one large piece of meat into 4 equal pieces; cooked two the first night, and the rest two days later.
    DD and I had created a basic marinade for the steak, but the pan's instructions say no seasoning other than salt and pepper are necessary, and not to use any oils or butter. Just before putting a piece of steak into the pan, I blotted the marinade off with a paper towel.
    To prepare for cooking the instructions tell you to rinse the pan, inside and out, in lukewarm water. We did this, then sprinkled coarse sea salt into the bottom of the pan, put my steak in, and then closed the top, leaving a fork turned on its side hanging out of the pan to allow the steam to escape.

    The house began to smell immediately. Not a cooking meat smell, or even something burning in the oven smell, but one that can only be described by admitting to the world that I have forgotten laundry in the washer for more than a day, and then been assaulted with that mildewy smell when I next open the washer.
    In the words of the immortal Cat in the Hat, "But that is not all, oh no, that is not all!"
    Imagine taking those moldy clothes and stuffing them in the oven to dry them out.
    Yep. I'm quite sure my neighbors thought I was roasting sweaty gym socks.
    The steak was perfectly cooked in about 14 minutes, but the smell had pretty much knocked out any hunger pangs by then. I ate a few bites and then stuffed it in the fridge.

    I allowed the pan to cool before cleaning it, and then I tried the no soap, scraping only, method that the La Cotta ads suggest, and that Pampered Chef recommends for their pizza stone and baking dishes; no good. I tried the liquid dish soap, then I tried soaking it overnight in a heavy duty, but all natural cleaner, and still nothing. The next day I tried my favorite homemade cleaner recipe, and then made a simple paste of baking soda and vinegar. I scrubbed and soaked and nothing got the blackened stone to look clean again. Even the bottom of the pan was blackened, and I have an electric stove.

    I'm not having a good experience, but I don't give up quite that easily. The following day I start again. This time I've done even more online digging, and found one mention of having to soak the pan in water, not just rinsing it, before using it. So this time I soaked the pan for about 15 minutes and then I reduced the heat from medium high down to medium. Hoping that the soaking and less heat would keep the pan from turning black; It didn't. And I'm not sure how I'd tell anyway.

    Again, the end result was a very tender piece of meat... but the smell was just as bad as it was the first time. Maybe it'll get better over time? I don't know, but I do know that I can't think of steak without smelling that moldy laundry smell, and it was so bad it permeated the garage and into my sealed car, so I get to enjoy it even when I'm away from home. icon_eek.gif
    I may or may not try it again... I haven't yet decided what kind of meat I want to ruin next. icon_lol.gif

    Last edited by **Tinkerbell** on Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total
    Bonnie G #2
    Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:19 pm Groupie
    Love it Tink, great photos - enough to insure this is one pan I'll NOT be trying. icon_lol.gif
    Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:12 pm Groupie
    Bonnie G #2 wrote:
    Love it Tink, great photos - enough to insure this is one pan I'll NOT be trying. icon_lol.gif

    Yeah, I think your DH won't be coming home to this little surprise next time you fly back to the states. rotfl.gif
    Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:26 pm
    Forum Host
    I am wondering if the pan has absorbed something over time - maybe soaking it in baking soda overnight would help neutralize the smell? It looks like a stove top version of the clay pot which is also soaked before using in the oven.
    Bonnie G #2
    Sun Dec 09, 2012 6:35 am Groupie
    Tink, that's a good idea - before giving up on it you might think about trying that suggestion.
    Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:08 pm Groupie
    duonyte wrote:
    I am wondering if the pan has absorbed something over time - maybe soaking it in baking soda overnight would help neutralize the smell? It looks like a stove top version of the clay pot which is also soaked before using in the oven.

    Yeah, that didn't work. icon_confused.gif I did explain the many cleaning options I tried, and one of them was an overnight soak (twice actually) in baking soda and vinegar. Still really nasty. In fact, just soaking it reactivated the smell and my kitchen was gross again the next day! icon_lol.gif
    Bonnie G #2
    Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:09 am Groupie
    Wow, Tink - this may be one pan that should be destined for recycling with the trash man icon_rolleyes.gif and count your losses.
    Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:27 pm Groupie
    Bonnie G #2 wrote:
    Wow, Tink - this may be one pan that should be destined for recycling with the trash man icon_rolleyes.gif and count your losses.

    Yeah. That's pretty much where I am with it. Right now it's sitting out in the garage, which in these cold temperatures, can't be good for it. I walk by it every day wondering if I should keep trying it or give up now while we can still get rid of the smell after a couple days. icon_confused.gif
    Bonnie G #2
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:22 am Groupie
    Sorry, but in my opinion that's one of those gadgets that the sooner it hits the recycle bin the better. Sure can't use something that smells up the entire house AND garage. I'm one of those gadget people that if I can't use it for whatever reason - it goes! I don't have enough space to keep something for a "what if" reason.
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:09 pm Groupie
    I know. I don't have the room either.
    Despite what the name implies, my Gadget Graveyard is still for useable gadgies. icon_confused.gif
    PaulO in MA
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:13 pm Groupie
    Great review. Very interesting.
    Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:39 pm Groupie
    Thanks, Paul!
    Bummer that it turns out to not work for me, but I'm glad I tried it anyway. It's better than wondering "what if?". icon_smile.gif
    Bonnie G #2
    Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:08 am Groupie
    I have to agree Tink. I'd hate to have something come and go and never know if it was a "must have" that I missed out on.
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