Choosing between 2 gifts: Dutch ovens?
Over Christmas, I received two very different items in response to my request for a Dutch oven. One is a Calphalon 7 qt. Kitchen Essentials Anodized aluminum Dutch oven. It is oven safe to 400 degrees with lid.
The other is a Michele B. Cast Iron Lite 5 qt soup pot (an enameled cast iron). It is oven safe to 500 degrees without the lid, but only to 350 degrees with the lid. Additionally, the lid has a steam hole, which seems to counter the purpose of a Dutch oven.
Both lids are glass.
A couple of other things to consider are that I have a soup/stock pot already that I adore, so I don't need the soup aspect so much. I want a Dutch oven for the sealed cooking, and for the stove-to-oven capabilities in particular. Finally, I plan to exchange whichever one I don't keep for a nice cast iron skillet, fryer, or chef's pan.
With all of that in mind...which one should I keep and why? I'm leaning towards the Calphalon if only because of the lid, but will the 400 degree limit be problematic?
If you're absolutely set on keeping one of them, I'd definitely keep the Calphalon. The Michelle B. is shaped to be a soup pot and doesn't give you the bottom surface for browning that you want in a Dutch oven.
That said, if it was my decision, I'd return both and get a heavier weight enameled cast iron. There are options if you don't want to spend Le Creuset kind of bucks, but I really think that in the long run you'd be much happier with a heavier, more substantial pot for long, slow braises than the Calphalon.
<The Michelle B. is shaped to be a soup pot and doesn't give you the bottom surface for browning that you want in a Dutch oven.>
True, but the nonstick surface on the Calphalon is not going to be great for browning either.
I think both of their uses. I personally would probably want the Calphalon one, but it really depends. You can always exchange both of them.
That anodized Calphalon piece would not be a non-stick. I would keep the Calphalon over the soup pot, but if it were me, I'd get both a naked and an enameled cast iron Dutchie, as there are reasons for both. Lodge for the naked, Tramontina or other economical brand for the enameled, and you'll probably still be able to afford a chef's pan/skillet.
Lower temp limits for lids - non-glass ones, anyway - are because of the composition of the knob. To go hotter, wrap the knob in aluminum foil, shiny side out, or replace it with a metal knob from a home supply store.
Calphalon Commercial anodized aluminum cookware are uncoated, but the rest of the lines, including this Kitchen Essential line, are coated with Teflon.
As far as I know, Calphalon has completely phrased out the commercial line because it does not sell well.
Return both, or give them to an enemy. ~ Buy a piece of nekkid cast iron or enameled cast iron!
A cast iron dutch oven with a cast iron lid will do what you want exceptionally well. I haven't used my nekkid cast iron oven (except for baking bread) since I got the enameled cast iron dutch ovens. They are so easy to clean, seal well, brown well, stove to oven capable and go from oven to table attractively, saving extra dirty dishes. I used an aluminum dutch oven for years (not Calphalon), it worked but it burned things easily, the cast dutch oven is much, much better. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you will want one. Nekkid Lodge is good for a skillet.
I would venture to state that how and what you cook will help you decide. If you plan to brown meat, deglaze, add vegetable and shove the whole pot in the oven, the Michele B might be a good choice even though it doesn't give you a lot of bottom surface to work with. You can always do it in batches whereas it's nearly impossible to brown in anodized aluminum. If you truly desire a traditional dutch oven and are not bound by the choices you currently have, I would say - return both, get the real deal. Wayfair currently has open box 5-qt Le Creuset dutch ovens for less than $150, granted the color choices are limited.
Based on what you say you want to do, I would say neither is adiquate for the task at hand. I would return both and get a quality enameled cast iron cocotte, either Le Creuset or Staub will function flawlessly for years to come and provide some of the best meals you've ever had. They are ideal for brazing and easily go from stove top to oven, the Staub is good to 500 with the lid as it already has a metal knob on the lid. The advantage of the enameled cast iron over bare cast iron Dutch ovens is that they can handle deglazing with wine and acidic sauces better. The two I recomended are expensive on a relative basis, but they are quality that will last a very long time.