Which Dutch Oven
I was recently given a gift certificate to purchase a dutch oven. I cook recipes that require one, but cheat my way out of them.
What should I look for?
How do you clean these after braising and there are the crusty bits on the walls?
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Either a Le Crueset or a Staub. Both are very expensive (around $150) but they will last a lifetime.
There should not be residue after braising using one of these.
I second La Crueset. You will wind up buying several like me, ouch on the wallet. They get discolored sometimes, but i just soak with a watererd down bleach concoction (I forgot where I leaned about that), and it seems to go away. I use the damn things for everything, braising, sauces, browning meats, frying. I love my La Crueset.
I have a brand (Olive & Thyme) that I bought at Marshalls and it has served me quite well. I don't think the company is in business any more though. The one thing I'd look for is a brand where the knob is made out of something other than plastic. Mine is made of the same cast iron as the pot, so I don't need to remove it at high temps in the oven. I've heard good things about Lodge and Le Creuset as well, but can't speak from experience.
As for cleaning, mine cleans up very easily after braising. I've braised a pork roast for five hours in it, and the pot turned all sorts of brown and black with crusty bits. Some dish soap, hot water and a rag cleaned it right up with little effort. I'm actually surprised at how easy the dutch oven is to clean. As far as I'm concerned, it's a magic pot.