This newbie needs help buying a good piece of cookware for braising meat!
This is only the second thread I've posted on Chowhound! Just posted one yesterday asking for advice on braising and received a tremendous amount of great advice. Based on some of the tips I read, I figure that I need to get myself a new piece of cookware to properly do pot roasts/braise meat.
I've never bought pots and pans before. I've been making do with a set of cheap hand me downs for the last several years. I plan to just replace each piece one by one... I don't care if they match or not. I'm focusing on getting function and quality but at a reasonable, affordable price.
Is a Dutch oven the best cookware to use to make good braised meat? Or, is a small stockpot also suitable?
I don't really know where to look for cookware here in Vancouver. I hate paying retail so I've enjoyed browsing the pots and pans at Homesense... the products they have in stock seem like good quality cookware at good prices.
One item I noticed today was this 5.5 qt Paderno enameled cast-iron roaster: http://www.paderno.com/us/products.ph....
I also really liked the Bodeux France line of pots and pans... they're beautiful looking, oven-safe, feel nice and hefty, and come with "5 Ply Copper Bonded" bottom. Can't seem to find anything about the brand online though except for two conflicting reviews on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bodeux-France-P.... Other brands I saw that had nice-feeling pots and pans: Potobelo, Palm and Lagostina.
Any tips, suggestions, or reviews on brands would be much appreciated!
My stockpot(s) aren't heavy enough for braising. Re DOs I probably equally love my Lodge, Le Creuset and Staub. And Lodge is a ton less expensive. Plus you can find them at thrift stores, yard sales, etc.
I think you're very smart to replace a piece or two at a time as you find the things you like to cook alot. I also love my slow cooker which can replace a DO at times. Just the other day I deeply browned a piece of lamb shoulder and then put it in the slow cooker. Didn't have to heat up the oven, used less electricity, etc.
re: c oliver
Thanks c_oliver... I recognize your handle from my first post. Lucky you with the new induction cooktop... I have a lowly electric coil range!
Thx for the suggestions for brands. I'm familiar with Le Creuset and I'm not quite ready for that kind of investment... but I did notice Lodge DOs on Amazon and was amazed how affordable they are. I'll do a Craigslist search and see if I can find secondhand DOs!
I do have a Hamilton Beech slow cooker. I haven't used it very much because I didn't succeed very well at making a beef stew in it. Perhaps I'll give it another go, this time with braising, and see how it does! I'm very eco-conscious so thanks for reminding me that slow cookers use less energy and perhaps save me from having to purchase another item.
You've received excellent advice from c.oliver and ck; you cannot go wrong with any of their suggestions.
One thing to keep in mind is the stove-to-oven capability of whatever you buy. Their three brand recs (Lodge, Le Creuset, Staub) all fit this requirement. You may not want to brown on the stove and use the oven for every single braise that you make, but having that capability is wonderful and saves you from having to change pots mid-cook. Also, you will likely use this pot for more than just braising. If you choose something with plastic handles, you'll eliminate high temperature foods like baking "No-Knead Bread" etc. in that piece.
There is a lot of lightweight, albeit "cute" junk out there. Steer clear. This is one piece of cookware that will likely last your lifetime. Don't cheap out because you like the color of a particular affordable piece. Quality counts. This does not mean you must pay top-dollar. There are outlet stores, e-bay, yard sales and thrift shops all offering terrific bargains to those willing to search and wait.
Cast iron is fine, but if you're going to spend a few bucks you might want to get something more multi-purpose. I have a lodge dutch oven, but for braising I'm more likely to use a SS-clad aluminum pot, particularly if I want to brown the meat before braising. I also prefer not to challenge the seasoning of the cast iron by cooking lots of watery things in it. Aluminum gives you the even heating you want for braising without all the weight of cast iron.
The pots I use are stainless clad on the inside and anodized on the outside. The fully-clad (stainless inside and out) are prettier, but too expensive for me.
"The pots I use are stainless clad on the inside and anodized on the outside. The fully-clad (stainless inside and out) are prettier, but too expensive for me."
The hard anodized exterior ones (LTD) also give you slightly faster heat response than the triply (stainless-aluminum-stainless) cookware.
I'm a huge fan of the Le Creuset French oven for wonderful braises. I also understand your concerns regarding the cost of LC, so let me say that there are ways to acquire LC without the huge investment. First of all, depending on where you live, there might be a LC outlet store nearby. Not only are their prices lower than the regular retail prices, but several times during the year they have special "coupon sales" where they mail coupons to people on their mailing list which are good for a hefty percentage off their lower prices. In addition, TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Tuesday Morning often have LC pieces at tremendously marked down prices. So don't despair -- LC might be more affordable than you think.