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Jun 24, 2011 10:53 PM

Enameled AND Non-Enameled CI Dutch Oven

Is there any reason to own both?

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  1. Well the traditional camp ovens are awesome for cooking outside, in the fireplace or wood stove. You won't catch me putting coals on the lid of my Le Creuset!

    1. Though I read that some people do it, I wouldn't want to use bare cast iron for sauces or braises containing acids (tomatoes, wine, citrus, vinegar. If I had to pick just one, it would be Le Creuset.

      1. There are reasons to own both and there are reasons not to own both. I have both type, but I ended up only using only one type for 99% of the time. I can go on and go for all the reasons and there are many other existing posts on this topic already. I will just name the main advantages of each. Bare CI Dutch Ovens are very robust and can handle harsher abuses. Enameled CI Dutch Ovens are non-reactive.

        1. I think I may just have to save up for a nice Staub!

          16 Replies
          1. re: euclid

            Esp. for starters, I'd encourage you to try one of the enameled cast iron Dutch ovens sold at Sam's Club, Walmart, or Costco (I hear that the latter has even been selling one made in France). Much less "saving up" is necessary that way.

            1. re: Bada Bing

              I agree. I picked up a 7 quart oval DBK Danial Boulud Kitchens enameled cast iron from Home Goods for about $45. KaChing! Works great for the last 5 years. You could also look at Lodge for enameled cast iron. You can braise like a pro!

              Cast iron is good for a skillet for high heat searing but a cast iron Dutch oven too reactive for a stew. In spite of all the Cowboy movies we have seen guys sitting around the campfire cooking beans in one.

              1. re: cajundave

                I pleased to say that for the last 6 mos. I have been the owner of both bare cast iron dutch oven and enameled. I have had a bare CI dutch oven for over 30 years. My LC is a new blessing for me. I like having both and I use both. I think at the end of the day, it would depend on your style of cooking.

                Like some others, I am not crazy about putting tomatoes in my bare cast iron, unless whatever I am cooking is going to cook and get done rather fast. The acid does take a toll on the seasoning layers and if left long enough can remove it. Also, acidic foods left too long in bare cast iron can cause a metal taste. Beef stew in cast iron that is made without tomatoes or maybe the tomatoes are added at the end of the cooking taste absolutely wonderful and cooks everything so well.

                Beans cooked in a bare cast iron pot are the best. But, dried beans have a way of leaving a coating on the pot that is hard to get off. I have found the best way to get it off is with vinegar left standing in the pot for several hours. Of course that is not a good idea with bare cast iron. So my beans are now cooked in my LC pot and they are wonderful. However, grean beans and leafy greens (turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens) are usually still prepared in my bare cast iron.
                Except last Sat when I had all my family over for a 4th of July meal. I fixed my ham and beans in my 7.5qt LC and my turnip greens in my 4qt LC. Just because I wanted it to look good since I was serving out of my cook pot. By the way, turnip greens look great in a Kiwi colored LC. :o)

                If I were really uncertain as to whether or not I would like an enameld dutch oven, I would just get one of the less expensive ones. Walmart carries the Lodge enameld CI dutch oven and they seem nice. Macy's carry's Martha Stewarts line, which is real reasonable when they are on sale. I would think that they would cook just as well as the LC.

                I chose the LC (after much thought on that price. YIKES!) because of the beautiful colors and the fact that they seem lighter in weight. Any way to lighten up CI iron is good for me.
                Anyway, I am so very much enjoying my two enameld CI pots and am finding lots of uses for them. Probably more so than my bare cast iron. But I would not want to do without my bare CI dutch oven. For I love it too. So I say go for both! I prefer searing meats in my bare cast iron.

            2. re: euclid

              Like Bada Bing said, there are plenty people who bought Staub and Le Cresuet and then found out that they hate them. It is one thing to save up $200-300 for something which you know you need and you will love. It is entirely a different thing to save up $200-300 for something which you don't know a whole lot and may eventually come to hate.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                OTOH, there are people who've used Le Creuset happily for decades.

                1. re: Jay F

                  "OTOH, there are people who've used Le Creuset happily for decades"

                  Sure, but there are certainly people who do not like enameled cast iron cookware. In fact, if we go by the some of the responses from the old threads, I say about half or more. So it is rather expensive to find out.

                  I like carbon steel knives and I especially like Japanese carbon steel knives. That being said, I also know many people prefer stainless steel over carbon steel, and prefer German knives over Japanese knives. I won't think it is a good idea to spend $300 on a Japanese carbon steel knife if the person has never used one, or for that matter, a $300 German stainless steel knife.

                  Saltydog did not own a Japanese Honyaki Mizuno gyuto before writing the following review article:


                  However, he has used plenty other Japanese carbon steel knives before, excellent at knife sharpening and have amazing knife skills.


                  Salty knows what he is getting into and it is understandable for him to spend $1000 for this knife. However, it is very different for a person who has never held a Japanese carbon steel knife to spend this kind of money even if many other people love Japanese carbon steel knives.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  I should clarify that I've bought Le Creuset and love it. I also bought a cheaper enameled cast iron pot, and it has never disappointed. In general, I have more use for the non-reactivity of enameled pots than I do for the toughness of bare cast iron.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I have never heard of anyone hating a Staub or a LC. It is something that I will use a lot so I would rather not spend $50 on a lackluster one only to want to drop a couple hundred dollars a few years later. Especially when a good quality one should last me decades.

                    1. re: euclid

                      "I have never heard of anyone hating a Staub or a LC"

                      Then welcome here and read more of the old threads. There are people who prefer bare cast iron cookware and those who prefer enameled cast iron cookware. On that alone, you have plenty of people who do not prefer the enameled Staub or LC. On top of that, there are many people who simply do not like cast iron cookware, enameled or not. Ultimately, it depends how much $300 worth to you. $300 could be one-tenth of somone's monthly salary, but it could be one-hundredth of another person's monthly salary. As for the concept that a good quality enameled cookware would last for decades, I think you will find many people here who agree with that statement, but also plenty here disagree.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I thought this thread was Dutch ovens? Most of us that use enameled Dutch ovens also use bare cast iron skillets ect. No either or required.

                      2. re: euclid

                        We went for years without either an enameled cast iron "French Oven" or a bare cast iron Dutch Oven. Then one day my wife decided she needed a goo large pot for a particular dish she was planning to cook for a party. We bought our first Staub cocotte and were both impressed with it. I always do a lot of research prior to spending just about any sum of money and if you go with an enameled oven you would do well to stick to Staub or LC, in short, they are just better. Both are far more chip resistant than the inexpensive stuff you get from China. We were so impressed with the 5 qt Staub that we bought a 2.25 qt., 8.85 qt. cocottes and a 2.5 qt. braiser, all Staub. We also bought our adult children coq au vins from Staub for last Christmas. I use the braiser more than the others, but they all work so well for certian dishes that I can't figure out how we went so long without them.

                        Buy quality and buy once.

                      3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I want to know who all these plenty of people are,because I know none of them.

                        1. re: rasputina

                          "I want to know who all these plenty of people are,because I know none of them."

                          It is not my intention to discourage people from using enameled cast iron cookware or promote bare cast iron cookware, not on this thread anyway. As such, I have been quite careful (intentionally so) not to include the links to older threads. I think the notion that "not everyone bought a Le Cresuet or a Staub is happy" should be rather reasonable and sound. You tone suggests some sorts of an inquisition -- for you have said you want to know *ALL* of these plenty people.

                          You have started writing on CHOWHOUND quiet recently, so it is not a surprise that you may not have seen these past discussions. You can look for them. JayF, for example, is aware of these conversations, as you can tell from his response to mine.

                          The point I am making is not about which cookware is more superior, but rather some people prefer one over another, and frankly some people dislike both. As such, I am merely agreeing Bada Bing's view that it is not a bad idea to try a less expensive enameled cast iron Dutch oven especially for a beginner. It will be rather regrettable to spend hundreds and even over a thousand dollars later to only find out you have no use of them.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Just out of curiosity, which do you prefer and why?

                          2. re: rasputina

                            Hi, rasputina:

                            [Timidly raises hand]


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Put your hands down before someone slaps you around. I tried so hard to protect you and few other people.

                      4. I own both. I use the cast-iron one for pH neutral stews and such, since it's heat characeristics are better, and it's stronger.
                        I use the enameled one for tomato sauces and other acidic cooking, but it's harder to clean, and ill treatment by a poorly-intentioned dishwasher can (and has) chipped it :-(

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: PeteSeattle

                          "I own both. I use the cast-iron one for pH neutral stews and such, since it's heat characeristics are better, and it's stronger.
                          I use the enameled one for tomato sauces and other acidic cooking, but it's harder to clean, and ill treatment by a poorly-intentioned dishwasher can (and has) chipped it :-("

                          That would be my only compalint so far with my expensive enameld CI. The worry about it getting chipped and scratched. So far I am the only one using them. I only use wood or nylon utensils on my enameled CI. I always have used metal utensles on my bare CI and stainless cookware. So I had to go out and buy nylon or sylicone utensils. And tell everybody that is what is to be used with these two pots. So that is a bit of a change. The wood utensils, I use often to stir with in all my pots.
                          So the drawback for me and my enameld CI is just altering the care of my pots. But you usually have to do that any time you change the style of your cookware. I can remember year ago when non stick cookware came out and how that changed the way we cooked.
                          As I grew up and got a place of my own, I went back to my old way of cooking and got rid of the non stick stuff. I just don't think food taste as good prepared in them.
                          If fact, if it wasn't for my husband popping popcorn in the microwave every night, I would get rid of the microwave too. I hate food cooked in it and even warming food up in a microwave, doesn't suit me. Though convenient, it changes the taste and texture of everything.

                          I use to scramble my eggs in the microwave and though they are ok, they don't even compare to scrambled eggs in my bare cast iron skillet. Even eggs in a non stick pan doesn't taste near as good as the ones in that bare cast iron skillet. I had forgotten just how much better food tasted in the cast iron until I got rid of all my non stick cookware. But I grew up on food prepared in CI, so that is probably why I like it so much better.

                          So my expensive LC is only to be used by me. Including washing it. Just like my expensive knives.:o)

                          1. re: dixiegal

                            I hear you! I have several pans that my neighbors want to use, and I've had to absolutely forbid them from touching them, because they've proven over and over that in the interest of being supposedly (clean) but actually Passive-Aggressive and dishonest that they'll wreck them. I thought my enamel dutch oven was strong enough. WRONG. I thought my tin-lined copper shallow baking dish was strong enough. WRONG. I thought my gigantic C-clamp that was bigger than a railroad spike couldn't be hurt by them. It came back twisted like a cruller. So I wouldn't let anyone touch my All-Clad Teflon crepe pan. PERIOD. And when they complain, and they do, I pull out some of the others I keep and show them, that no matter what they promise, they've proven that they can't be trusted to care for my pans. Sorry.
                            (Do I sound bitter? Sorry, I suppose I am!)

                            1. re: PeteSeattle

                              I will take you at your word, and I regret the damages you've seen. But it makes me laugh to imagine a neighborhood where people are beating down your door to borrow your All-Clad teflon crepe pan. It's sounds like something from a foodie sitcom!

                              1. re: Bada Bing

                                You know, I hadn't realized just how bad the situation was until I actually outlined them here. It was a pretty abusive situation, and I've now pretty much gotten them out of that behavior.
                                As for the door, strangely, the story you tell actually DID Happen! (Door has not been completely repaired yet)
                                Thanks for showing me the humor of the situation! I feel a little better now!