HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  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