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Bare Cast Iron Dutch Oven - For Chili and other Tomato-based dishes

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Sorry for posting yet ANOTHER topic on dutch ovens, but I need a straight answer:

I am placing an order at Amazon for cast iron skillets and I want a dutch oven to cook chili on the stove and cooking stuffed cabbage (lots of tomato sauce) in the oven.

All the references to tomato and cast iron issues point to here but there doesn't seem to be a consensus.

I prefer to not go the enamel route if I don't have to, but if someone can attest that cooking tomato based products in a bare cast iron dutch oven will impart a metallic taste or other issues, then I'd like to know.

I'm not sure what else I will use it for, but I'm thinking the bare cast iron DO should be more versatile. Actually, come to think of it, I would be interested in knowing if I can use it for boiling pasta and making chicken soup... My kitchen is new and I only have a 2.5qt pot right now which I have been using for the above to date.

I currently have the 5 qt. Lodge Dutch Oven in my cart and will leave it there until I get a few responses back.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. I also have a 5 qt. Lodge and cook chili with tomato as an ingredient in it on a regular basis with no discernible problems. I wouldn't do a marinara sauce in it, though nor would I do stuffed cabbage in a tomato sauce. Soups, again, no problem. Think stews, braises, pot roast, etc. My point is that some tomato seems to be ok while a tomato base would be an issue.
    The dutch oven you buy will be seasoned, not bare. You may want to season it further or re-season, as I've found Lodge doesn't do a real credible job seasoning the first time around. Seasoning builds up with usage, as well.
    As far as pasta is concerned, I have a 8 qt. tri-ply stainless for that, more space for the pasta to move around in the boiling water. 5 qt. is a little small for a lb. pf pasta.

    Let's see what other posters say. I would buy the dutch oven anyway; it's a very useful cookware item.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      I have been debating on going with the enameld cast dutch oven.I think that would be better for you.Also agree on the stainless for the pasta.I have never tasted a metallic taste and I cook thick tomatoe sauces in my cast pan quite often but it does eat the seasoning so I have to clean the pan and re-season it after every use.With enameled cast I wouldn't have to do this and could store it in the pan as well.

      1. re: bushwickgirl

        I often cook chili in my old cast iron dutch oven--and even Midwestern versions with a high tomato quotient!--but I wouldn't do a spaghetti sauce in there, or anything where acidity seems to be untempered by the "base" qualities of beans or meats...Cast iron DO's are really excellent for pork roasts and things that you want to develop a nice, crusty, crispy personality--something that just doesn't seem to happen to the same degree when cooked in stainless or enameled cast iron.

      2. I agree with everything said so far. There is far too much hysteria about tomatoes and cast iron. One caveat though if you're going to cook chili, you're going to have to build up quite some seasoning first. That takes time. Why not get one of each? I have a 5 quart Lodge ($29 at Target) though used at least once a week, still has a way to go before I'd call it as well-seasoned as my skillets, which are used daily and are slick as ice now. Yes, I have cooked tomato sauce in it, but I also have a Tramontina enameled dutch oven ($35 at Walmart) which is a lot less hassle to do that sort of thing. The Tramontina was rated very highly by America's Test Kitchen. As for pasta, I have a tri-ply 4 quart Tramontina ($60 at Walmart) that is exactly like my sister's All-Clad that cost 10 times more. Frankly, the cast iron pot is very heavy to begin with. Adding water only makes it a lot heavier. I couldn't lift it to drain pasta.

        1. I was too ignorant to know the difference. I made spaghetti sauce in the Lodge Dutch oven last night not knowing any better. Sauted and browned everything right there in the dutch with two jars of sauce on the stove top and then popped it all in the oven along with some sweet and hot Italian sausages I prebaked. I even let it all cool in the cast iron dutch and the sauce is crazy delicious. I'm a terrible cook and it this is the first decent thing I've made in a long time. Don't notice any metallic taste at all.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JustSomeLady

            It just depends, really. My spaghetti sauces tend to be rather sour--either vinegar or wine added--and I cook them for a long time. Sauces that are cooked quickly ( like the "pasta primavera" fresh type sauces) or those with low-acid tomatoes may be just fine.

            In any case, if you "goof" it won't kill you or your pot. You'll just have to re-season and you may wreck the sauce.

            1. re: Beckyleach

              Yet another question that I could only find a reliable answer from on Chowhound.

          2. Here is the DO that I use for chili, and slow braises. It is cast aluminum, is not unbearably heavy and does a very nice job with this sort of cooking. Honestly, I can't imagine hauling a CI DO in and out of the oven.

            http://tinyurl.com/7efv4kv Berndes SignoCast Classic 7-Quart oven

            The aluminum is treated to be totally non reactive.