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What is the best material for a dutch oven to be made of?

I was about to buy a new Staub when I thought about whether or not copper would work even better than a cast iron dutch oven. Im comparing the Staub dutch oven to a Falk Copper Casserole:
http://www.copperpans.com/facoca.html

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  1. Hi, Eric...:

    Not even a close call. The Falk. Responsive, even heat; specific heat is roughly equivalent for equal thicknesses; you can see your jus and fond (to prevent burning); drippings don't run through the fat like they do with ECI.

    Aloha,
    Kaleo

    3 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Thanks. Im just so used to seeing cast iron dutch ovens that I assumed they make dutch ovens cast iron for a reason. Im going for the 8.5. qt Falk. Would have got the 9.5 quart but that has a 2.0 mm thickness.

      1. re: Eric_Cartman

        Hi, Eric:

        Well, ECI DOs *are* made for a reason--they work reasonably well, and are easy and cheap to make in quantity, and the profit margins are high. And the pretty colors appeal to lots of people.

        Aloha,
        Kaleo

      2. re: kaleokahu

        What are the Falks lined with Kal? The price is in the same ballpark as stub or LC at least up here

      3. I prefer cast iron or a clay pot for dutch ovens.

        1 Reply
        1. Cast Iron. Copper cookware in general is something I'd buy *after* I get the Bens and the half-naked black women.

          2 Replies
          1. re: shezmu

            Hey shezmu:

            LOL. $275 for the Staub, $575 for the Falk. How much play you gonna get for $300 anyway? You'd be < 1/10 of the way to one good rim for the ride.

            Kaleo

            PS: And why half-naked?

            1. re: kaleokahu

              A quick google gives me an average of ~60 for enameled cast iron pots. I can get a good piece for the difference der, dawg. Don't know if OP finds going with another brand though.

              And dey need to be half-naked 'cus da's how I be roll', dawg.

          2. I was using mauviel saute pans for hob to oven dishes. Control on the hob is obviously great, but the problem for me is how quickly they cool down when you serve at the table. Some sauces end up with skin on, or just too cold in general.

            I bought a couple of eci le creuset shallow ovens and find them much better for this kind of cooking and eating.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Fumet

              Hi, Fumet:

              The effect you describe is real. Yet the question was about DOs which, when sized properly and full of food, tend to be larger thermal masses than do spread-out, mostly empty space sautes. Unless you are using cozys/chafing dishes/bain maries, it's always better to use a preheated serving boat , tureen or the like for sauces at table. But a small, full, 3mm copper saucepan holds heat pretty well if you minimize the exposed surface area.

              ECI also presents the one-dish problem of the fat mixing with the jus, which is a real drag for making integral sauces. See, James Peterson's 3rd ed "Sauces".

              Aloha,

              Kaleo

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Hi,

                I was referring to serving whole cooked dishes at the table, not just sauces. When the OP talks about dutch ovens, the kind of food that would go from hob to oven to table comes to my mind. And for that usage pattern I have had a better overall experience with eci than copper. For sauces I would use copper and serve in a pre heated sauce boat, like you said.

                Oh, and why does eci alone have this one dish problem with sauces?

                1. re: Fumet

                  Hi, Fumet:

                  Sorry, I was keying off your ID'ing of skinned sauces as the problem.

                  As to the ECI problem, I'll just quote Chef Peterson from two passages:

                  "Enameled cast iron is not suitable for roasting pans or saute pans because the juices from meats and fish do not adhere to it, making the separation of the juices from the fat before deglazing difficult." (Sauces, 3rd ed., at p. 23)

                  "Enameled iron should be avoided because the drippings tend to float into the fat, making it difficult to separate them to prepare a jus." (Id., p. 25)

                  I would think he would say that PTFE would have a similar problem (and worse).

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    I see, that makes sense about the fond floating into the fat. I went for the satin black le creuset which so far has not displayed that problem because the enamel is not glossy. I think the staubs also have this satin enamel,.. but I am not sure.

                    1. re: Fumet

                      Hi, Fumet:

                      What you say makes sense. Personally, I too find that my few black-enamel LC pieces are plenty sticky, so I'm not sure it's as black and white [rimshot] as Peterson makes it out to be. He cooks in rarefied atmospheres, after all, where maybe a small qualitative margin means anything else is to be "avoided".

                      We CHers tend to be a little that way, too. This thread's title is a pretty good example of that--risking the perfect becoming the enemy of the good. There's another recent thread here where a person bought one thermometer (hasn't used it) and now rues not having bought the one lots of folks claim is "the best".

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Hi, yeah I read that thread! Buyers remorse taken to the next level! I tend to read a lot of reviews and do loads of research,... but after purchase, the only relevant review is my own!
                        Happy cooking, fumet.

                2. re: kaleokahu

                  So a wooden, flat end wood scraper can be used to scrape up the fond on tin? Sometimes I really dig in.

                  1. re: rbraham

                    Yes, I use wood. But you realize that the liquid and heat are doing most of your work, right? I mean, if we all had a little more patience, everyone could do it with silicone.

              2. I like the enameled cast iron, but it think to some extent it depends on what you plan to cook. One of the things I like about it, is how well it holds heat, there is a lot of thermal mass there. I don't think I could afford that same thermal mass in copper. If I plan a meal for 6:30 and the spouse is running late, the Staub has enough mass to keep it warm for the next 15 to 30 min. without the risk of over cooking and without as Fumet stated, skining over from cooling.

                No doubt the copper is far superior on the hob, but the cost of a 15 lb copper DO is beyond my cooking skills. ;)

                3 Replies
                1. re: mikie

                  Hi, mikie: " ...the cost of a 15 lb copper DO is beyond my cooking skills."

                  Now now, you don't *know* that, do you? I give you the benefit of the doubt that such a thing would not be beyond your skills, at least for long. The real problem is *finding* a copper DO that is >3mm. No one makes them anymore, but vintage pieces do turn up--often at far less of a price than the new, thinner Falk DOs.

                  I'm confident that if you diversified even a small share of your considerable cutlery holdings into copper, an entire batterie of 1st-grade pieces would be in easy reach. ;)

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Over 3mm??? Would it make that much of a difference vs. the 2.5mm pot im considering??? I just saw a Mauviel 3 mm hammered rondeau but it has bronze handles and its quite expensive. I assume the vintage pieces would mainly be tin-lined. Is it worth the cost of re-tinning? If a 3mm-4mm copper pan would truly make a significant difference, I may be searching parisian thrift stores and flea markets next time I go to France. That or ebay.

                    1. re: Eric_Cartman

                      Hi, Eric:

                      "Would it make that much of a difference...???"

                      We're talking about DOs here, and specifically heat *holding* ability, OK? I think that is a narrow area, and there are plenty of other reasons to choose copper over CI, but in this narrow sub-specialty area, if the copper DO is going to equal CI, then the answer is yes. The specific heat of the two is very close, so mass rules here. You can do the calculations. Just remember to adjust for copper's greater weight.

                      Now then, if what you're doing with your DO matters to you (lots of folks use a DO as their "Desert Island" pan, stocks, sautes, sauces, stews) then the other concerns come more into play. In those venues, the differences between CI and copper become far more pronounced, and the differences between 2.5mm and 3mm copper diminish.

                      Yes, the thicker vintage pieces are tin-, silver- or nickel-lined. I don't believe anyone makes Cu-SS bimetal thicker than 2.5mm (which is really 2.3mm of Cu). Yes, IMO it is worth re-tinning, considering you can easily get 3-10 years or more if you don't abuse the pans--far more with nickel.

                      IMO where thick copper really shines and is the best use of money is sautes and saucepans.

                      To give you some idea of cost, about 6 months ago there was a large copper DO (aka "casserole") listed on eBay that was probably 5mm thick, made by Mora of Sweden. I don't remember if it had a lid. I think it went for about $600, which is pretty much the price of the large Falk 2mm casserole. A lot of money for sure, but not orders of magnitude greater.

                      I have an orphan lid for a 26cm casserole that is a full 1/4 inch thick. Like Ahab, I'm covering the planet looking for its mate. So there are behemoths out there.

                      The brocantes are a great place to look, but the Parisians are more likely than the provincials to drive hard bargains.

                      Hope this helps,

                      Kaleo

                2. I don't know what is the best, or how you are defining best. I used a Berndes cast aluminum (anodized finish) yesterday to braise a chuck roast. It performed very well, browning the meat and veggies well and easily on the stovetop, and producing deliciousness after several hours in the oven. One of its best points for me is that it is very light for its mass. I have to carry my DO from the stovetop, across the kitchen to an oven set below counter. And food doesn't stick to it during browning.

                  1. I think it depends what you want. If you want a cast iron Dutch Oven with good heat response than a copper or aluminum material are very good. If you want something with great thermal mass for very stable temperature, than thick cast iron works quiet well. The enameled cast iron from Staub has a slight nonstick property, so you can brown the meat without having it sticks to the cookware, and it is easy to clean.

                    1. I have had great luck with Lodge casseroles, for making beef pot roast, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, braising cornish hens, etc. They are also stick-resistant and work well on the flame, except that you can't expose them to really high heat. I would look into whether this is the case for Staub too, just in case. Obviously this won't be such a problem with the copper. Another nice thing about the Lodge pots is that the white surface makes sauce skimming and browning much easier because you can actually see what's going on, which is the problem with a black cast iron.

                      I always associated dutch ovens with the ones we used to use in Boy Scouts to make peach cobbler by covering it in live coals. But I've also used those same ovens to produce stellar bouef bourguignon, etc. Once they've been well seasoned they'll have a completely nonstick surface, just like my grandma's 100 year old cast iron skillet (a treasured piece of cookware). The problem here, though, is that the walls are so thick that it sometimes works too well. If your stew gets too hot getting it to slow down from a rolling boil can be quite tricky.

                      I guess what I like best is the Lodge pot, and then if I want to do a reduction I skim the fat and then move the liquid to a saucepan or pot to reduce. On the other hand, if you can swing the cost of the Falk, it obviously makes a lot of sense and I'd certainly appreciate having one. And I'm also assuming this is the kind of stuff you're making with the DO, which I guess may or may not be the case.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rvgregerson

                        Hi, rvgregerson:

                        It took me awhile, too, to get out of my mind the idea of a Dutch Oven as a three-legged pot with a deeply-recessed lid to hold coals. Like daubieres braisieres and tourtierrres, these "spiders" harken back to a time when virtually everything was cooked above, in or under fires. Camp and hearth cookery has nothing to apologize for, and much to teach.

                        If you want a Falk, I would call Michael Harp, the sole US distributor. He's a nice guy, and might well give you a "try me" discount on a different pan than the official Try Me (the small saucier) if you ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained...

                        More on the perils of saucing in an ECI pan later...

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Go ahead and keep that 'camp oven' definition in your mind. It's a good one. Still, on this forum 'dutch oven' usually means the French enameled cast iron in designer colors (and prices).

                          The closest thing I have to that, is a 5 qt Spanish Copco enameled steel pot, which works fine when I need that size. More often I use 3qt pots, like a cast aluminum one (from GSI Outdoors), or a stainless steel 'dutch oven' from TJMaxx (my best large pan for use on the induction hot plate). I also have a 3qt copper pot (also TJ), but that has a sauce pan handle). And when it comes to retaining heat, it is hard to beat a ceramic, such as a Chinese sandpot or Spanish cazuela (even though the conductivity is at the other end of the scale from copper).

                      2. I don't see any point to copper in a dutch oven. Copper is used on the cooktop be ause of its high thermal conductivity. It heats up quickly and cools down quickly, which gives the cook more precise control. In the oven, food is cooked at a constant temperature for a long time, so responsiveness is irrelevant. Actually, because ovens turn the heat on and off to maintain temperature, low thermal conductivity is an advantage. A cast iron pot will maintain a more even temperature through the cycling of the heat source. Probably not significant to the result, though.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: GH1618

                          I completely agree that the typical uses of a dutch oven copper makes no sense.

                        2. Best material? No idea. I love my cast iron lodge logic dutch oven. I'll be using it tomorrow to cook up one of my, in all modesty, amazing custom sauces for use with savory crepes filled with pulled pork and shaved pecarino-romano cheese ...

                          I don't see a point to a copper dutch oven. I can understand why it might be interesting as a saucier.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: jkling17

                            I have one Lodge LOGIC Dutch Oven and one Lodge PRO-LOGIC Dutch Oven. I like the Pro-Logic a bit better. Which one do you have?

                              1. re: jkling17

                                :) Nice. Did you buy it because you are using it for camping as well? Or you use it because it is like a cool handle. Yeah, it looks like a Logic pot. One of mine is logic, and the other one is pro-logic:

                                https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefron...

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  That's a good question, but no - the only camping that we do is backpacking so cast iron is a bit on the heavy side for a day hike or overnight into the woods :-)

                                  Yes - the real attraction of this particular model is the ability to move it around with just one hand. Most of the time I can do this without even using a pot holder, thanks to a clever design by the Lodge folks.

                            1. re: jkling17

                              Hi, jkling17:

                              No point at all if you're boiling pasta or reheating soup. But if you're trying to brown meat and vegetables to make a sauce, the responsiveness, even heating and the absence of the enamel means you're going to be able to keep the fond and jus, and get rid of the fat, and you end up with a more flavorful dish, regardless of what you do later. There's also a point for slow and low preparations like caramelizing onions. Among others.

                              Aloha,
                              Kaleo

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                So I'm confused as to why you can't keep the fond and jus when using the enamel coated variety?

                                1. re: rvgregerson

                                  In any case, you can brown your meat in a different pan to get the fond. There is no need to do it in your dutch oven.

                                  1. re: rvgregerson

                                    Hi, rvgregerson:

                                    See, my response to Fumet, above.

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: rvgregerson

                                      Hi, GH1618:

                                      Sure, you can use separate pans. But a lot of cooks like to start with (and stick to) one as long as they can, or as long as the reduction allows volume-wise.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: rvgregerson

                                        Agree with Kaleokahu, I've read comments above about their ECI DOs becoming non-stick or almost non-stick. In my opinion (and Peterson's) that is an inferior quality when taking advantage of using the flavorful fond as a base for sauces, soups, or stews, etc. I like to use that fond while reducing with wine, water, stock and/or just the liquid from vegtables.

                                        To go from stove/oven to tabletop in an attractive color-no doubt the ECI with its multiple color choices are hard to beat, but as a cooking vessel I found there is little I could not do equally well or better with other pot/pan choices.

                                        I had the Martha Stewart version in red (7 qt I think). When I heard that Macy's was recalling the Martha Stewart brand I returned mine for a full refund and replaced it with a commercial stainless-aluminum disk bottom pot. I found that ECI's inferior qualities too numerous to deal with.

                                        ECI is heavy especially when filled with food. The oven braising can be done equally with just a hotel pan covered with aluminum foil (as it is done every day in commercial kitchens) or with a rondeau/brazing pot/pan.

                                        Cast iron is less conductive than aluminum or copper-which makes it less responsive to get to simmering (or frying, boiling, etc.) and fine tuning a simmer. Boiling is very slow compared to aluminum or at a snail’s pace compared to a Turbo Pot.

                                        Less conductive material can mean hot spots over the heat source-so it may not be ideal for roasting or sautéing.

                                        As for heat retention, it takes a long time for food especially liquid to cool down in a 6-8 qt container regardless if it's ECI or another material. If's it's an issue I'd just turn the oven down to about 200 and leave a pot in there to keep warm.

                                        The above is my experiences with ECI. The best choice for most people is whatever helps you make a better dish. My preference is an aluminum disk bottom, stainless like this $50 8 qt Johnson Rose below.

                                        http://www.instawares.com/brazier-8-q...

                                        1. re: bbqJohn

                                          And that's a beautiful pot but there is something to be said for the home/hearth emotional tug of cast iron. It's a connection to our past. When our grandson comes to visit I make lasagna for him in a camp oven with coals on our deck in an oil pan set on bricks. I think sometimes there is more value in sharing the process and love of the cooking and the cookware, than the perfection of each dish. If it's an enameled cast iron pot that feeds your spirit as well as your belly, use it. If it's copper, have at it.

                                          1. re: Cam14

                                            <I think sometimes there is more value in sharing the process and love of the cooking and the cookware, than the perfection of each dish>

                                            Good call