Saturday, April 25, 2015

In The Beginning - Corning Ware 2nd Generation BPE (Before P# Era - 1960-1961)

It's time for Act II of Corning Ware's first Era (AKA: Fin Lid Era) from 1958 - 1961.  The first "Act" involved the embossed bottom pieces from Generation 1 from 1958-59.   The second Act encompasses the blurry blue ink generation (Gen 2) produced from 1960 thru 1961.  This generation also includes a new percolator design, but more on that later.  Let's go all the way back to the beginning......   (this is a recap of the "In The Beginning - Corning Ware 1st Generation BPE" post)       

In the beginning of the beginning there were no P, B, W, N, A, C, S, DC, F, G, U or L model numbers..   You see, Corning was unsure how well their cookware would be received by the American housewife, so they made a limited number of pieces for the initial release in the fall of 1958 to test the waters.....  These would be the 1 quart, 1 1/2 quart and 1 3/4 quart saucepan with fin lids (similar to the Pyrex FlameWare design) along with the 10 inch skillet topped with the infamous pyroceram lid adorn with more cornflowers.  With only 4 pieces, it was pretty easy to keep track of what was what, so no model numbers were really needed at this point.

Corning Ware ended up being such a hot seller that, by Christmas, retailers were screaming for more.  So, in spring of 1959 Corning unveiled 2 additional skillets (9 inch and 7 inch with fin lids), a 2 1/2 quart Saucepan and the famed 8 cup & 6 cup pyroceram lipped percolators (which would later be referred to as P-108 and P-106).

All these 1st Generation pieces, percolators aside, had an embossed stamp on the bottom stating either "Corning Ware" with a volume measurement or, in the case of the skillets, width in inches while others simply had "Corning Pyroceram" embossed on the bottom with no other identifying marks other than mold numbers for QC purposes.

By 1960, the embossing on the underside was dropped in lieu of blue ink...  blurry blue ink.  Though these pieces still have the 1st Era fin lids, these pieces have become known as the 2nd Generation of Corning Ware. The marks on these pieces can be very difficult to read sometimes.  It's not just that the ink is blurry, which it is, but the printing was less than perfect as well.  Thus, they can be REALLY light, or only partially printed, or even smudged to the point of complete illegibility.  Saucepans are marked with volume size and skillets by width in inches. 

Unlike the 1st Generation, Generation 2 saw ALL the pieces being produced at the same time.

 1 Quart

1 1/2 Quart

1 3/4 Quart

2 1/2 Quart

7 inch Skillet

9 inch Skillet

10 inch Skillet with Pyroceram lid

It should be noted, that Trefoil was released in 1960 as well.  Thus, some of the first Trefoil pieces (1960-61) have blurry blue ink marks on the bottom, instead of P-series model numbers.  These pieces should be paired with Fin Handle Pyrex lids as well.

It was in the Fall of 1960 that the original P-108 & P-106 Percolators were removed from the market.

It had come to Corning's attention that pyroceram lip was a weak point in their percolator design... Thus, the 1st edition of the P-119 and P-116 with a stainless steel rim were released. The 1st generation of the P-119 & P-116 can be identified by the design of the handle.

The stainless steel rim was glued onto the pyroceram body, then the handle was bolted to the rim.

These bolts were covered by a small piece of black plastic.  The Black Starburst 9 cup percolator (P-129) is designed this way as well.

This handle would be updated in 1963 (2nd Edition) though the model numbers on these two pots would not change.

Where is your Corning Ware??

Friday, April 10, 2015

How Corning Ware Does Italian - Shells in Mushroom & Leek Cream Sauce

This is one of those base recipes that can be altered as needed....  While I will admit, it is a little bit on the "rich" side.  Simply substitute pre-cooked Chicken or Turkey for the Mushrooms and you are good to go.  It's even delicious with Crab Meat.

It's the Leek's fault, you know.  Leeks play well with everybody and everything.  They are the most affable of ingredients.  They even help bring ingredients together that would normally clash...   The great mediators of the culinary world. 

Lumaconi Al Porro y Funghi

(Little Snails with Leeks and Mushrooms)

2 TB Unsalted Butter
8 oz Leeks, halved and sliced
4 oz Shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
4 oz Cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream

1 tsp Porcini Powder (Super Secret Weapon)
1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
16 oz Lumaconi (small snail shells, but "regular" shells - Conchiglie - will work too)
Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
optional - finely chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley - for serving

 Lumaconi - Little Snail Shells

Corning Ware 4 quart (A-84-B) - This wide & low sided dish is excellent for tossing pasta (The P-84 is deeper)
Corning Ware 5 quart (A-5-B) - Gotta boil that pasta in something

Fill the A-5-B with 4 quarts of Water and bring to a boil over high flame.

Melt butter in the A-84-B, set over medium flame.

When the butter is hot, add the Leeks and Kosher Salt, sauteing until soft.

Add Shitake & Cremini Mushrooms cooking until they begin to give up their liquid.

Meanwhile, drop the Lumaconi into salted boiling water, reduce the flame to medium high and cook until al dente (about 9 minutes)

When the Leeks & Mushrooms are soft, add the Chicken Stock and let it reduce by half.

Add the Heavy Cream and reduce the flame, allowing the mixture to simmer for about 3 minutes.

Add Porcini Powder to the Heavy Cream and simmer for 1 minute more.

Remove the A-84-B from the flame and season the sauce with Cracked Pepper (and salt, if necessary).

Drain the Lumaconi and add them to the sauce in the A-84-B.

Toss until well coated and the sauce thickens a little more, due to the free starch on the outside of the pasta.

Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and chopped parsley if desired.....

Where is your Corning Ware??

Friday, April 3, 2015

U is for Unsolved Mystery - U-series Corning Ware

The time has come...    I have only mentioned the U-Series Corning Ware pieces in my ABCs of Corning Ware post, up until now.  Simply because, at the time of writing, the only piece I had seen was a 5 quart (U-5) piece on eBay.  No other information was available at the time.  Neither of the books mention this particular series and the Internet is devoid of anything resembling informative data.   At the time, I assumed that it might have been a Crockpot insert or something.

Well, new information has come to light, finally.  So now it's time for some theorizing and postulation utilizing the  small amount of data available.

I found a U-1-B at the thrift store.  So now I know for sure that the U-5 was not just a crockpot insert, this really was a full on line of cookware.

Interestingly, I noticed that the U-1-B is a dead ringer for the N-1-B Rangetopper.

 (Rangetopper left; U-series right)

This piece did not come with a lid, but I assumed it was suppose to have a P-81-C lid, like the Rangetopper equivalent, however, it seemed loose.  So I dug out my Rangetopper (N-1-B) and checked the lid on that one.  It is loose too, and I know that is the proper lid for that piece.

Thus, I am to assume that the lids for these pieces are just a little on he loose side. Since there is the same amount of sideways movement on both pieces.

 (Rangetopper with lid, notice the right side lip of the saucepan is exposed)

(U-series with lid, notice the right side lip of the saucepan is exposed, just like on the Rangetopper above)

I had begun to think that these may be a special white version of the Aluminum encapsulated style of Rangetopper.  But that theory was blown out the window when I got my hands on a U-1 1/2-B in it's original box and it's original lid (P-83-C).  Which is the same lid used on the 1 1/2 quart Rangetopper, by the way.

The box, as you can see, clearly states... "Rangetop, Microwave, Oven, Freezer, and Table".  So these pieces do NOT have aluminum in them.

So now we know several things.
  1. The U-series is not just a single 5 quart Crock pot insert.
  2. The U-series is modeled after the Rangetopper N-series, but devoid of Aluminum.
  3. The lid on the U-1 1/2 us a P-83-B (same as the Rangetopper lid for the N-1 1/2-B)
  4. The lid on the U-1-B is more than likely the P-81-C. (same as the Rangetopper N-1-B)
  5. The pyroceram handles are not rounded like the later S-series (Rangetop line) which were based on Visions shapes.
  6. The measurements on the saucepans are in "Liters" not quarts, thus they are from the 80s after the switch, which I know for sure was in place by 1984 and probably a little earlier.
  7. Rangetoppers were discontinued by 1984.
  8. The Rangetop line (S-series) did not make an appearance until 1988.

From all this information, I must conclude that the U-series, though it appears to have only come in white, was used to fill a marketing gap. Produced from 1983-1987 from the RangeTopper molds, without the Aluminum cladding, until the S-series Visions style Rangetop pieces were released in 1988.  It's completely possible that the "U" stands for "Unclad"; since they are basically RangeTopper pieces without aluminum, making them safe for Microwave usage.

That is my current theory...   If anyone has any more information, I would greatly appreciate it.

Where is your Corning Ware??
Wow that was fast...!  New information has already surfaced within 10 minutes of posting...  Thanks to Jennifer in Florida.  It appears that the Christmas pattern piece from 1983 was a U-series piece...

So, it appears that the U-series was around by December of 1983 and available to Corning Employees.  My assumption is that it hit the mainstream market as soon as January of 1984.