The Great Jones Hot Dish arrived in my life at exactly the right moment. After years of feeling apathetic toward my baking dish collection (a set of three nesting Pyrex dishes with plastic covers), something started to shift within me. Usually the 9-by-13-inch number would be getting a ton of play around now, as cold weather usually rekindles a desire for casseroles, bar cookies, and baked pasta. But increasingly, I’d been avoiding recipes that required me to use my large baking dish because of a small annoyance that had blossomed into full-blown beef: I could no longer stand the fact that my Pyrex had sloped sides.
In the whole wide world of casserole and baking dishes, the 9-by-13-inch rectangle is king. It’s the vessel most recipes call for. If you’ve never measured the dish you have at home and use for stuffing every Thanksgiving, it’s likely exactly that size. Some models, like my Pyrex, have rounded corners and slanted sides—in other words, the base of the dish is a much smaller shape than the top, as each of the four walls tilt in and down. This is a plus if you need to stack a few Pyrex in a cabinet, but a huge flashing neon minus if you’ve ever wanted to cut a corner piece of snacking cake with perfectly straight sides. It makes building a flawless lasagna near impossible, as you end up with weirdly thin pieces adjacent to deeply layered ones—a strange inverted hierarchy, since the crispy slices along the edge would usually be most prized. I was able to ignore these minor grievances for years, until, suddenly, they weren’t so minor anymore. I could not have anything less than a geometrically-precise batch of brownies. I would donate my Pyrex and find a straight-sided replacement immediately. The next day I saw the Hot Dish on my Instagram and felt that the universe was on my (neat-slice-loving) side.
The Hot Dish is a 9-by-13-inch baking dish from Great Jones, made of thick stoneware that’s ovenproof up to 450 degrees. The piece is one of a handful of new bakeware staples that the photogenic direct-to-consumer brand released in November, right in time for high baking season. I knew that the Hot Dish would pass aesthetic tests with flying colors, as appearance is a signature selling point for Great Jones. Sure enough, the dish is a looker, with a simple but impactful pattern around the edges in a choice of three colors (blueberry, broccoli, or mustard—all delightfully ’70s in vibe). I was more curious about how it would perform under pressure, so I made it the centerpiece of my home cooking game for weeks, bringing it from my oven to the table over and over again to see if it was worth the brand’s hype.
The ceramic body of the Hot Dish cooks evenly and retains heat well; I found that cakes browned nicely, casseroles crisped delicately, and a pork loin roasted evenly. The big, almost graphic handles made maneuvering the dish into and out of the oven very easy, even with a thick kitchen towel or bulky oven mitts on my hands (though, they do mean you need a bit more space for storage). And, of course, the straight sides, with nearly right-angled corners, made for clean, even slices of whatever I made and allowed for even lasagna filling from edge to edge. Unlike a truly angular baking pan, the Hot Dish angles inward eeever so slightly, but the slope is imperceptible while cutting portions. To me, it is the perfect middle ground between a utilitarian stainless-steel cake pan and something homier and more fun, for stylishly showing off at the table.
At $75, the Hot Dish is more expensive than a glass Pyrex, but it’s on par price-wise with other ceramic casserole dishes. If your collection could use an upgrade, I think it’s a worthwhile contender, especially if countertop appeal is important to you. I’m hoping to be taking my Hot Dish from the oven to the table for years to come, slicing baked pasta into the perfect cubes of my dreams.
$75.00, Great Jones
Originally Appeared on Epicurious