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tramontina enameled cast iron?

On the shelves of my local WalMart: nifty-looking dark green enameled cast iron skillets, buffet casseroles, etc. Tramontina (IIRC) brand, marked 'made in china'. Anyone familiar with the brand or have one of these pots? The price was killer for enameled cast iron: 3-qt covered buffet casserole (I'm using the LC name for a shallow, round-sided pot) for $40.

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  1. I've been using Staub for quite a while and recently invested in a 3.5 qt Tramontina. It's just as good (almost identical to the LC), but the Staub is better. Still, only fractionally because of the interior of the Staub has a non-enameled finish we I personally prefer to LC and Tramontina for browning.

    6 Replies
    1. re: hankstramm

      All Staub eookware has an enamel interior.

      1. re: hankstramm

        I disagree about Tramontina being "almost identical" to the Le Creuset. I haven't used the Tramontina, but I've inspected them in the store, and there's no way I would consider buying one of these instead.
        I should admit, though, to being naturally suspicious of Chinese companies that use European words (or words that sound very close to European words) for names. China is not known for enameled dutch ovens, and I don't see how it could be as good. Adequate in the short run, maybe. But it won't ast as long as my mom's Descoware from the '70s (which I used to make 4-hour bolognese the other night)!

        1. re: vvvindaloo

          I probably don't need to get into yet another discussion about this, but I do want to clarify something about Tramontina for a second. This is an almost 100-year-old company that really was started by someone named Tramontina. The company is Brazilian, not Chinese, and they make a number of high-quality, well-regarded products.

          I leave the discussion about whether or not it's worth considering Chinese-made enameled cast iron to elsewhere. I've said plenty today on that already.

          1. re: CrazyOne

            Thank you for the background info, Crazyone. I read the pdf on the Tramontina USA website, which does mention that the company began in 1911. What I don't understand is why they would make such a point to repeatedly mention their US and Brazilian factories, and not mention that their enameled cast iron comes from China. I don't mean to say that their products are necessarily low-quality. But based on the products I saw in the store, they are not as good as LC or Staub. That was the main point of my response to hankstramm.

            1. re: vvvindaloo

              I don't think that a noticeable difference is in doubt. The question is whether the cheaper stuff is good enough for you, at its much lower cost. That is a personal decision for everyone to make, not something that can be defined as an absolute.

              1. re: vvvindaloo

                First of all all enameled cast iron is imported from either France or China. Even Lodge who like to say they make everything in the USA, imports it's enameled pans from China. As for LC and Staub being so much better, I don't know I can't afford to spend $350.00 on one flippin pan. I own a Tramontina, and for the price point it works just fine for me. I figure worst case the dutch oven only lasts 8-10 years, at $39.00 a pop (walmart.com) I can buy 9 of them which would last me more then one lifetime. Not everyone needs or can afford a Mercedes-Benz, some of us have to make do with a Toyota.

        2. Celeste, my mother, a clearance sale scavenger, brought home a Tramontina 3.5 quart Dutch Oven that she got on sale at Wal-Mart for $15.00. I used it last night to make Chile Con Carne and it worked wonderfully. There's a short learning curve to get used to using these pots, since you have to wait until they heat up thoroughly, and fats & oils get much hotter in them, but once you make those adjustments, they're a dream to use. Last night, while I was sautéing my onions, garlic, and chilies in the pot, it actually resembled what is shown on all the cooking shows I've watched all my life. I felt like the ghost of Julia Child had inhabited my body. All joking aside, this pot inspired me to start seasoning to taste, instead of per recipe instructions and much to my own surprise, I could detect what was missing, and knew what should be added to build the flavors. I'm now a convert to enameled cast iron and will be trolling the internet for more of these Tramontina pots on clearance. I've always wanted a set of Le Creuset, since they come in such beautiful colors, but unfortunately, they're out of my price range.

          1. That 6.5QT Dutch Oven is the deal of the century...

            1. America's test kitchen/Cooks Illustrated recently gave the Tramontina enameled cast iron pots high marks and rated them a best buy.

              Just one note, the enamel can chip off, so don't bang them around too much, I love this type of cookware for soups, and long oven braises, this goes to show that you don't need to spend $200+ for the french stuff to get great quality.

              MAC

              1 Reply
              1. re: bakeman

                Chip, yes... and sadly sliding off the back of an upright freezer onto a tile floor is brutal evidence that they will crack and chip and break... and not do the floor any good either. <heavy and sad sigh> It was a great deal, a beautiful and efficient pot. It was much loved. Just don't store it carelessly like I did.:(

              2. I've yet to see Chinese enameled ware that's worth binging home. It's showing up everywhere across N. America. Lagostina, a brand sold widely in Canada, started selling this schlock last year. It replaced an earlier line that was a dead ringer for Staub: heavy enamel, good fit-n-finish, and French-made. The Chinese versions are lighter castings, iffy enamel, and a few too many rough edges. The stuff is very chip prone relative to French-made enamel. Given the sticker shock Creuset and Staub can induce, the Chinese-made stuff is pre-sold as decor. Just don't expect much mileage from it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Kagemusha

                  I have 4 Staub ovens and a Mario Batali 6 qt. I haven't used it long enough to comment about chipping but the China made cast iron is actually heavier than the LC. LC uses a special casting method or alloy that allows them to make thinner castings. The Chinese make them heavier and thicker so they won't break easily. It's the same as the heavy Lodge cast iron, and the lighter Griswold.

                  The Chinese enamel isn't applied as nicely as LC, and seems to be lumpier, and not as smooth. People who have had the Batali ovens for a while seem to be happy with them, and someone mentioned these stain less than their LC ovens.

                  Just think of them as more rustic and you'll be fine ;-). I will settle for a little bumpiness at 1/4 of the price. The Batali was for my mom's house as I cook there when I visit. It cooks just fine and cleans up easily. The design of the Batali is beautiful, although not as pretty as Staub ;-).

                  1. re: Kagemusha

                    I dunno about not worth bringing home. We bought the Crofton/Heuck one at Aldi for 30 bucks. That's a 5qt round for 30 bucks. Since a good name brand one costs anywhere from 5 (not really likely) to 10 times that much, it was worth a shot. We've used it a few times, works well, although I do have to say we're not particularly hard on it. I don't know if we've even had it in the oven. Here's the original thread on that with some additional info if interested: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478571 It may be lighter castings and less perfect enamel, but it's done well enough. It doesn't seem especially prone to chipping or such so far.

                    I do think we would like to get more pieces, so there we would be limited as the lower cost brands seem to focus on only on the most popular sizes and shapes. We'll have to catch some seconds at the Le Creuset outlet in the sale color of the month, and even then the smaller pieces will still cost far more than the 5qt. ;-)