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Dutch Ovens

j
jromann Mar 25, 2009 10:16 AM

I just posted something about slow cooking but after reading other posts its sounds like a Dutch Oven might be a better way to go. There is a big difference in price between 5 quart dutch ovens. I see that Lodge and Staub are both recommended but the price difference is pretty significant. There are also some in the middle, Calphalon for example. Thoughts?

  1. g
    grant.cook Mar 25, 2009 10:55 AM

    Dutch oven can be used for slow cooking of course, in an oven or stovetop - I use mine for braising, but I wouldn't consider them in the same vein as a slow cooker - for 2 reasons - safety (you can leave a slow cooker on and go away) and browning - you can brown/sear stuff in a Dutch oven then transfer to low heat for slow cooking.

    There are big differences in price - and while Staub/LC are great pieces - investment/long term pieces, it seems the reviewers find less expensive versions perfectly useable. Make sure the enamel is in good shape, it seems heavy enough, and that the lid has a nice firm seal. There are probably reviews on the site. Also, think about your size - 5qt is nice, 7-8 is better for larger groups... depends on how you cook.

    I assume you aren't talking about the bare cast iron Lodge stuff - like the oven I use with hot coals at a campsite. You are comparing enameled versions, correct?

    1. MikeB3542 Mar 25, 2009 10:57 AM

      Just for starters, I am assuming we are talking about a cast iron oven coated with enamel.

      Staub and LeCreuset are very expensive. They are made in France by people who take summer off to lay out on the beach. They have bulletproof lifetime warrantees. The finish consists of multiple enamel coatings. They will probably survive you.

      Everything else (Cuisinart, Lodge, Tramotina, Martha Stewart, etc.) is a fraction of the price. It is almost always made in China by people who take summer off to work their farms. The warrantees are all over the map: some good, some not so much. The enamel finish is two maybe three layers thick (Lodge Signature is an exception here, but you will pay for it!) How long it lasts will depend on how much you use it.

      No doubt, the French stuff is gorgeous. Just look at the colors. That said, you would have to wear out the Chinese stuff three or four times (or more) to cover the cost of the French stuff. If money is not an issue, buy the Staub or LC. You really won't be sorry. If money IS an issue, then the lower cost Chinese products will be just fine for now. There is no shame in slumming at Marshall's and TJ MAxx.

      I think I would still get an electric slow-cooker first, since you can run it all day while you are away. I would never let a dutch oven go all day on the stovetop or in the oven unsupervised.

      5 Replies
      1. re: MikeB3542
        HaagenDazs Mar 25, 2009 11:36 AM

        I agree with everything Mike said except... "get an electric slow-cooker first." I think you should learn the dutch oven cooking process (braising) before you use things like an crock pot. I find a dutch oven FAR more versatile than a crock pot/slow cooker any day.

        Anyway, another discount store to check out is Tuesday Morning.

        1. re: HaagenDazs
          tommy Mar 25, 2009 12:05 PM

          Agreed. Both with skipping the slow cooker (aren't they kind of expensive?) and about Tuesday Morning, where you can get Le Creuset for less than 50% of the usual retail.

          1. re: tommy
            HaagenDazs Mar 25, 2009 12:12 PM

            The slow cookers aren't too pricey. I bought my slow cooker for under $25. I'm sticking to my opinion though. ;-)

            1. re: HaagenDazs
              tommy Mar 25, 2009 12:50 PM

              I got an All-clad for xmas and sent it back. No one could give me a compelling reason to keep it, and It was quite pricey.

              Even at 25 bucks I bet you get your money's worth more from the use of that dutch oven than you do from that slow cooker!

              1. re: tommy
                HaagenDazs Mar 25, 2009 05:26 PM

                I posted this at 3:30 pm this afternoon in another thread:

                "The differences in price can equate to size (larger ones cost more) and some brand names. For instance All-Clad makes one that's something like $200 (just a guess). That's completely unnecessary and they are clearly charging more because the outside is fancy brushed steel but with the oh-so-important All-Clad branding on the front. Shop at Walmart or Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond (use that 20% coupon) and look to spend anywhere from $20 for a cheaper, smaller one to around $50 or $60 for a larger one with a few more functions."

      2. j
        jeanmarieok Mar 25, 2009 12:18 PM

        I have both LC and Lodge dutch ovens. I like them both, and think they both perform about the same. If I could get a good deal on the LC, it would be my first choice - it just seems like it's a bit more substantial. LC dutch ovens have a certain cachet, at least in my neighborhood. And Mike is right, it will probably outlast me. But the Lodge is really great, for the price, and I'm not 'afraid' for my husband to use it, like I am with the LC. I don't think he could hurt either one of them, but I don't want to find out, either.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jeanmarieok
          Soop Mar 26, 2009 04:52 AM

          Lawl, I'm scared of Donna using my LC stuff too. I tried reading her the usage instructions on tuesday night, but we were at a bar, and she wasn't interested.

          1. re: Soop
            MMRuth Mar 26, 2009 04:58 AM

            I think LC can withstand more than people think it can. I've had mine for probably 15 years now, and my husband does use it on occasion, and I use it often, and it has held up well. I use it on high heat when needed, but try to use wood utensils rather than metal ones.

            1. re: MMRuth
              Soop Mar 26, 2009 05:26 AM

              Ah, that's great news. I posted a thread (frying with olive oil) in which I questioned whether I could use the pan as I would normally cook.

              If it works like that, then I'm happy :)

              1. re: Soop
                MMRuth Mar 26, 2009 05:31 AM

                It's great to use for frying, because of the depth - a lot less splatter. I learned that tip from another poster, beetlebug, who says that her (Asian) mother uses one instead of a wok. I also make risotto in mine.

        2. v
          valerie Mar 25, 2009 02:57 PM

          Slow cookers and dutch ovens do some of the same things, I guess, but they really aren't the same. You would/could start a slow cooker before you left for work in the morning, and all would be okay, but you (or at least I) wouldn't leave my LC in the oven all day with nobody home. So I would think it depends on what your needs are.

          That being said, if my house were on fire, I would get my children out first, and then I would go back for my LC's...I love them that much! They are worth every penny. Of course, a deal is a deal, and if you can find them for a good price, even better. I bought one of mine on Ebay (it was brand new).

          I have contemplated a slow cooker and even eyed the All-Clad one at Williams-Sonoma, but just decided that I have no need (even for a cheapie one at Target).

          1. v
            vinhotinto75 Mar 25, 2009 04:28 PM

            I've owned some Le Creuset and non-Le Creuset Dutch ovens and while the "nons" are capable, they do not survive the wear and tear, washing, and overall performance of my French Le Creuset's.

            If price is an issue, try finding one at a store like Homegoods, TJ Max, Marshalls, or Tuesday Morning. Also, Le Creuset has factory outlets that contain good deals along with seconds and discontinued colors.

            1. sfumato Mar 25, 2009 05:35 PM

              I agree with everyone who says that the Le Creuset or Staub is the way to go, if you can swing it. Not only is it a worthwhile investment (my mom's Le Creuset from the 1970s is still going strong), but the quality makes for great, fun cooking.

              You can go through a couple of cheaper pots for the same overall cost, but IMO that's false economy- the Le Creuset or Staub will last longer and functions better, which will help you become a better cook (no matter how good you already are!).

              I love having multiple pieces, but I think anyone can get by very happily with one good mid-sized dutch oven.

              The one thing I like about Le Creuset is that the white interior really helps me see what I'm doing. Those black enameled interiors can be annoying. Amazon often has great sales on it, too.

              1. r
                RGC1982 Mar 25, 2009 05:38 PM

                There is another French brand I am going to try -- Chausseur. It is supposed to be comparable to the upper end pieces, but I haven't tried it yet and can't say for sure. But it is a little less money.

                http://www.yourcookware.com/shop-by-b...

                1. Gio Mar 25, 2009 06:06 PM

                  Just to add another point of view. I have 2 slow cookers of different sizes and Mario Batali's "Essentials Pot". The slow cookers have their place when an all day unwatched cooking process is needed.... but I have loved the versatility of MB's pot. It goes from stove top to oven and cooks everything perfectly. Plus the price differential is cash friendly.
                  http://www.chefsresource.com/mario-ba...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gio
                    j
                    janeh Mar 26, 2009 12:20 AM

                    I have a slow cooker and don't use it much, have a couple ot sizes of Dutch ovens which I use all the time. If you decide to look for Le Creuset, look at the sources others have suggested as well as the LC outlet if there's one nearby. Also, get on the outlet mailing list to receive coupons for huge discounts, even on seconds. No need to pay full price for this stuff.

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