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my first oven pot

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david kaplan Nov 10, 2006 05:54 PM

In a rare fit of spontaneity, I'm inspired by Mark Bittman's NYT Minimalist article from Wednesday to try making bread at home. Since I'm primarily a stove-top cook, I don't have an oven-proof pot that the technique calls for, and I figure this is a good excuse to buy one for this and other uses.

Bittman says to use a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic). If I were to buy one pot this size for bread-baking and other uses, what material and brand would you recommend? What are the tradeoffs among the different materials? Thanks.

  1. p
    paulcooks Nov 17, 2006 07:57 PM

    Peashoot, I bought mine at TJMaxx and it looks exactly like yours. I've used it 5 times this week for the no-knead bread and I love it. It cleans beautifully too. The only odd thing, and I have no Le Creuset to compare it to, is that the red pot turns brown when preheated in the oven. The red color returns once it cools. I have no idea why this is the case.

    David did you make the bread? How did it turn out?

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulcooks
      d
      david kaplan Nov 17, 2006 08:54 PM

      I wish! I ordered it from QVC and will be getting it just after Thanksgiving. Bread will follow quickly.

    2. peashoot Nov 16, 2006 05:12 AM

      I got my 5qt enameled cast iron dutch oven off the internet for $35. As far as I can tell it's almost identical to a Le Cueruset dutch oven except that the handle is made from the same enameled cast iron as the pot so you don't have to worry about it in the oven. Here is a link to the website where I bought it:

      http://kitchen-and-dining.smartbargai...

      1. Zeldog Nov 16, 2006 04:45 AM

        Too late to give my 2 cents to David, but for others who read this thread, if you do a lot of braising, make lots of casseroles and such, by all means go with enameled pots like LC. But if you are mainly interested in baking bread, get a 5 qt Lodge cast iron dutch oven for about 1/4 the cost of a similar Le Creuset. The enamel offers no advantage over uncoated cast iron in terms of heat transfer (theoretically it's worse, since the conductivity of enamel is lower than cast iron, but let's assume the thin layers of enamel don't make much difference). And the loaf doesn't stick to the cast iron at all. Pops right off and doesn't pick up the slightest color or taste from the pot. And you don't need to worry about plastic handles and knobs.

        1. d
          david kaplan Nov 13, 2006 03:40 PM

          A quick thank you to everyone who responded. I ended up ordering the Staub Basix 6 qt at qvc.com, swayed primarily by the issue of the heat tolerance of the handle on the Le Creuset. Delivery two weeks from today! Then, bread.

          1. k
            KRS Nov 12, 2006 01:36 PM

            If you don't want to spring for Le Creuset, Bittman says he had good results with an inexpensive square Pyrex casserole or cast iron. You should get the same results with a ceramic Corningware casserole, which has higher sides and comes with a glass lid.

            In the wonderful braising thread on eGullet, they said that the Le Creuset phenolic lid handles deteriorate and get brittle over time when exposed to oven heat and recommend the Staub. Even though LC has a lifetime guarantee, it's a bother to make a claim.

            The older LC lids had metal handles and come up often on eBay or in yard sales.

            For braising, I love the LC Doufeu, an oval pan with metal handles and a flat lid with a depressed area where you put ice or cold water to enhance the auto-basting. It works beautifully on the stove top. The LC stores usually have a special on it.

            1. m
              mzrave Nov 11, 2006 06:22 PM

              Le Creuset all the way baby!!! The stuff is incredibly versatile and sturdy. Spend the money.....it'll last you forever. I've been building my collection one piece at a time, as I didn't have the whole $900 to shell out on the entire set that I had my eye on. I worked with many professional chefs, who turned me on to kitchenware that is sturdy, useful, quality stuff and can be used for lots of different things. Invest in a good piece.....your tastebuds will thank you!!! Cheap imitations just don't cut it and usually end up in the trash in a year or two. Best wishes!!!

              1. r
                RichardM Nov 11, 2006 06:16 PM

                Ops! The last post should have said 400 degrees for lid and know. Sorry.

                1. r
                  RichardM Nov 11, 2006 01:48 PM

                  Actually the lids on the LC are good to 450 degrees F.

                  I believe Emile Henry (?) has a new line of ceramic dutch ovens which are less expensive than LC.

                  However, a medium sized LC is a very versatile pot for both oven and stove top and will last a lifetime.

                  1. Sarah Nov 11, 2006 01:03 AM

                    The December issue of Fine Cooking has a review of enameled cast iron dutch ovens. Six criteria, six picks.

                    1. f
                      FlavoursGal Nov 11, 2006 12:39 AM

                      I bought a Staub enamelled cast iron cocotte at Costco (in Toronto) for way less than the equivalent Le Creuset would cost. I've been very happy with it, bright red colour and all!

                      1. yayadave Nov 10, 2006 11:07 PM

                        For not a lot of money, you could use this cast iron pot. And you don't have to worry about the knobs. I used a smaller pot than this and my bread was 8" in dia. and about 4" high.

                        You can probably find this at a hardware store or sporting goods/outdoor store where you don't have to pay to ship the thing.

                        1. g
                          GG Mora Nov 10, 2006 06:03 PM

                          I've never tried baking bread in a pot, nor have I ever been tempted. So I can't speak to that part of your query. But if you're looking to buy a piece of cookware that you can use for a lot of other things, I'd recommend Le Creuset or similar (enameled cast iron). A good 6-quart covered oval casserole is incredibly versatile and can be used in the oven or on top of the stove. I've stuck with Le Creuset mostly because they're so well made, but also because their warranty and customer service are great.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: GG Mora
                            d
                            david kaplan Nov 10, 2006 06:58 PM

                            Thank you. Is that the brand to look for, or are there less expensive brands that are similar that will do pretty well? Thanks.

                            1. re: david kaplan
                              Robert Lauriston Nov 10, 2006 07:51 PM

                              I haven't seen anything as good as Le Creuset that costs less.

                              Round makes more sense than oval to me since it distributes the heat more evenly. That appears to be what Lahey is using in the photo.

                              From Bittman's instructions, it sounds like an inexpensive Pyrex pot would work as well for the bread.

                              1. re: david kaplan
                                Caitlin McGrath Nov 10, 2006 09:29 PM

                                Staub makes highly regarded enameled cast iron pots at around the same prices as Le Creuset. But they also have a line called Staub Basix, apparently modeled on their earlier designs, that is extremely similar in style to Le Creuset, and much, much, less expensive (it's an exclusive deal with QVC). I have one of these, and it compares favorably with my LC. The cast iron is just about as thick and heavy, the enamel is durable, it has no issues with hot spots, etc., and it has an advantage over LC in that its handle is metal, so there is no worry about oven heat. It is made in France, and has a limited lifetime warranty. I think it's a reasonable alternative. Here's their 6-quart French oven, currently $72: http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/ap...

                                If you do decide to go with LC, there are many threads on this board about getting deals and discounts on it in various ways.

                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                  d
                                  david kaplan Nov 10, 2006 10:07 PM

                                  Thanks for the lead. Is the non-metal handle of Le Creuset pots a big issue?

                                  1. re: david kaplan
                                    Caitlin McGrath Nov 10, 2006 10:25 PM

                                    You're only supposed to use it in the oven with temps up to 350F or so (I don't remember the exact limit), so if you need to bake or roast something at high heat, you have to unscrew the knob and plug up the hole with foil, as Bittman describes in his article. Not something most people have to deal with often, and not a big deal if you already own a LC pot, but if you buy a pot with an eye to trying this bread technique and end up loving it and wanting to use it often, maybe something to consider. I didn't buy the one I have because of that feature, I bought it becaue it was ~$50, and I thought, hell why not, since I couldn't afford a LC pot that size. But it's something I like, and I'm very pleased with the quality of the pot.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                      c
                                      conniemcd Nov 11, 2006 04:01 AM

                                      I would love to know the brand name of your pot you bought for $50. I'm wanting to try Bittman's bread and want something decent for a lower price than LC. TIA

                                      1. re: conniemcd
                                        Caitlin McGrath Nov 11, 2006 11:08 PM

                                        The pot is the same Staub Basix brand sold through QVC that I discussed in my initial post above, but it is a 5-quart pot, not the 6-quart pot I gave the link to. Bittman specifies a 6- to 8-quart pot, so this might be too small for his recipe. I bought it a few years ago, so the price is now up to $59.40 (plus shipping, of course): http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/ap...

                                        But the 6-quart in this line is still only $72, much less expensive than LC. And it's a good size for making big pots of soup, chili, or any long-braising dish, especially ones that go in the oven.

                                  2. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                    j
                                    Jack_ Nov 11, 2006 01:14 AM

                                    When i looked at these in the store the LC black on black had a metal handle

                                    If your in New York City Broadway Pnahandler had all the LC at 20% off in their new store on 8th St just west of Broadway

                                  3. re: david kaplan
                                    monkeyrotica Nov 13, 2006 02:07 PM

                                    I've got the Batali 6qt Essentials Pot. I like it better than my Le Creuset because the lid has the self-basting ridges. Not an issue with baking, but I got it for $70 ($130 less than the Crueset).

                                    http://www.italiankitchen.com/store/s...

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