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What Is the Purpose of this Insert?

  • JoanN Nov 30, 2010 06:58 AM
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At a friends house. He recently cleaned out his mother’s home and found this really great looking cast iron Dutch oven. What is the insert for? Google, in this instance, has not been my friend. I’m finding that it’s called a “trivet tray rack,” but that’s about it. The rack is no more than an eighth of an inch thick. If you look closely, you’ll see three little knobs on the underside that hold the trivet no more than a quarter inch off the floor of the pot. Anyone know? Anyone want to guess?

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  1. I can only guess.

    Since it's called a "drip roaster" I would assume that the trivet functions more like a rack, so the juices drip down allowing the meat to roast dry.

    1. Hi Joan,

      E M is correct. These beautiful old pots were intended to trap all the juices and keep as much moisture inside as possible. These are considered collectible and lots of folks still use them today noting how effective they are for roasting and braising.

      You may find this blog to be of interest:

      http://blackirondude.blogspot.com/200...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        @ E_M: That's just what my friend's first guess was, but since the rack is probably less than a quarter inch off the bottom of the pan, I didn't see how it would achieve much in terms of keep whatever was being roasted out of the liquid. But maybe it's just enough to make a difference.

        @ Breadcrumbs: Yes! That's the blog I was trying to find. Thank you so much for the link. Can't believe he's got a photo of the same pot. (And I like the look of my friend's better than his, nyaah, nyaah.)

        I believe you, but I still don't really understand. Would you brown the meat you were going to braise on top of the trivet? with all those holes for the meat to partially fall through and without being able to easily scrape up the fond? Or would you remove the trivet, brown the meat, remove the meat, put the trivet back in?

      2. The trivet is multi-use. Yes, it can be used as a roasting rack within the DO, but as you have observed, 1/4 inch is not much elevation. Unless you place it ATOP your aromatics.

        Another use is truer to the vessel's name: It serves to elevate your BAKING off of the hot bottom when cooking over an open fire or on the stovetop.

        Another is as a base for canning when it is rigged for lifting.

        Still another is as a trivet for beneath the DO when required.

        It is somewhat rare for this piece to stay with the DO--people tend to separate them. The set should be worth more if it is the original trivet.

        1. My mother had a similar rack with a Dutch oven she would use to hold a dish to steam something. I think it could also be used to hold a pan to bake biscuits or something similar.

          7 Replies
          1. re: monku

            Guess it is for meat. Works as a steamer too.
            This Magnalite is the same one my mom has
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/506211

            1. re: monku

              That link is a great find, monku. Thank you. The idea of allowing the meat to sit above the fat that has rendered out of it is interesting.

              1. re: monku

                The last post in that earlier thread is a pure WAG. Self-basting in its own fat? STEWED (at the bottom) in its own fat, maybe. I'm more convinced this is a baking or steaming accessory all the time...

                I've run a 500G tallow rendering tank, and IMO there's nothing good that happens just above the bubbling fat.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  I would almost agree with you except the rack really isn't that thick.
                  The OP say's 1/8" which is nothing and I think the one my mom had was maybe a 1/2" thick. It was a different construction than the one pictured above, but had holes like that one. But if you look at the one in that picture and tried to steam something with it......don't you think a slow simmer would make that flat rack thing jiggle around a bit?
                  .
                  My mother had "steaming" racks which were easily 1 " high, so you could add a decent amount of water to steam something. They looked like a round wire cooling rack for cakes, but would fit into her pots and pans.

                  1. re: monku

                    monku: Point well taken re: steaming--not that great a feature at 1/4 inch over the water. I've seem some of these trivets that have short little bumps on one side (like this one), and longer legs on the other that can stand off liquids more. You just reverse them.

                    I'm back to the baking option. Just because this DO doesn't have legs under it doesn't mean Wagner didn't think of campfire/grille/stovetop baking.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Then again if you were to braise something for a long time, it would sit on the trivet and not directly on the bottom of the DO providing some separation from the bottom and the meat wouldn't stick or scorch on the bottom.

                      1. re: monku

                        monku: Yep, you're right. Given CI's propensity to hot-spot, LC and Staub ought to give one of these trivets out with every DO they sell!

            2. Lodge makes a modern version (but the one I have wobbles): http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Pre-Seaso....

              One Amazon reviewer has found creative uses for it: oliver pitter, grilled sandwich press..

              1 Reply
              1. re: iyc_nyc

                Great find. Especially the line that reads: "Raises meats, pies, and other foods off pan bottom to prevent scorching." Made me really think about the meaning of "Dutch OVEN" for the first time.

              2. Ooooh. Jealous. I have a lot of older cookware - Wagner, Magnalite and of course vintage cast iron - most of it from my family, but some of gleaned from antique stores, garage sales, etc, etc. . The quality of the older stuff is monumentally better than the newer versions in my opinion. I hope your friend enjoys using this classic piece of cookware.