Shopping for a dutch oven...
I am SO amazed by the amount of knowledge and expertise on this board! Thanks for sharing, everybody!
So...after reading so many wonderful things about ECI, I'm now in shopping mode...or at least, I will be when I recover from sticker-shock. I can't read through these posts without hearing about Le Creuset and Staub so I know they are wonderful! However, Bank of America says "No way, domestic diva...". So much for my champagne wishes and caviar dreams!
Are there any cheaper versions that are worth the money or should I just start rolling my pennies and hold out for the good stuff? I know the cost depends on size too...since this is my first one, I'd love to know what's "average" for a whole chicken or a good size roast for a family of 4.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Get the "good stuff"...you won't regret it. Here's how: Call LC & ask to be put on their customer list. You will receive notices of their sales which are excellent...& buying their "seconds" is an even better deal. (usually you can hardly see the imperfection--I don't even know which of mine are "firsts" & which "seconds" any more--that's how minimal the difference usually is)
America's Test Kitchen ranked Tramontino's enamel cast iron dutch oven as a good alternative to Le Creuset. I bought mine at Walmart for about $30. You can also get a Lodge naked cast iron for about the same price. I own both. They both do the job quite adequately. If you're unfamiliar with the care and cleaning of naked cast iron, buy the Tramontino.
5 quart is probably a good size for most things.
My two cents:
Le cruset, overpriced. People buy it for the name. Lodge is great, but iron is very heavy. Real heavy if you are thinking about a 12" pot. I purchased a 12" aluminum dutch oven by GSI outdoors a few years ago (hardware store) that is great. I use it when camping, and it's great. It's also great for the kitchen, but its only disadvantage for indoors is that it has legs.
Cast aluminum is worth considering, though due to its much lighter weight. I can't say that its thermal properties are a disadvantage.
I, too, have champagne tastes and barely can afford beer. Here's how I got new Le Creusets, recently (a 5 qt a few years ago, and a 7.5 quart this spring). TJ Maxx almost always gets in a goodly bunch of seconds this time of year. Haunt those...I found my smaller one, there--a lovely French blue--for only $80. Also, check the "others to sell" listings on Amazon, where private sellers compete with Amazon for pricing. For a month I lusted over a Dijon 7.5 quart round, but couldn't even afford the private Amazon seller who had a "no box; one tiny ding" brand new model. He wanted $190 for that. Well, after seeing his item sit and sit, I finally thought, "what the hell!" and wrote to him directly, making an offer of $150. He accepted, and I got my largest LC for almost half list price. :-)
In other words, don't despair. Don't give in and buy something you don't want. Put out a "wanted" on Craig's list, get yourself Auction Sniper (an almost free sniping software that works like a charm) and put in low-ball bids all over Ebay. You may get lucky! Hit up TJ Maxx on weekdays, before the weekend hordes decimate the stock...You'll find one. It may not be the color of your dreams, but nearly all the LC colors are pretty.
Upon reflection, I probably should have said, "here's how I got new Les Creuset..." ;-)
By the way, I do NOT think it is over-hyped or over-priced. My mother cooked in her 3 qt. LC every week or so for 30 years, and now I'm doing the same, for the past 5, and it's still in perfect condition.
I don't get that Bank of America said no thing... Anyway, you can wait fo Le Creuset to go on sale like at TJ Maxx, but keep in mind that Le Creuset is not going to be cheap even on sale. The two cheap alternative to Le Creuset and Staub are Lodge Color and Tramontino. Both are enameled cast iron.