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Dutch Oven Recommendations & advice

I need to purchase a Dutch Oven. I went to the kitchen store and felt a LC and it's way, way too heavy for me. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and the weight of the LC makes it unworkable. Same is true for Staub. Are there other good quality Dutch Ovens that are lighter or am I out of luck?

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  1. I think you can go to Amazon and do some comparisons of size and weight.

    1. What do you need it for? What size?

      I've been braising for years, and don't have anything in the LC class. Perhaps the closest is enameled steel (as opposed to enameled cast iron). I also have a cast iron chicken fryer - but that's rarely used these days. I also have a 3qt stainless steel dutch oven, which differs from a sauce pan in that it has 2 loop handles. And a 3qt cast aluminum dutch oven - with a rimmed lid so it can be used for true camp dutch oven baking.

      A well known pot roast recipe uses foil and plain baking pan. And when braised dishes are shown on DDD, they tend to use hotel pans with foil covers.

      7 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        I was going to use it for stews, braising, and browning meats. I do have a crock pot, so I could use that instead.

        1. re: kdlalib

          paulj asks the same questions I would ask. With your answers in hand, I have a few thoughts.

          First, you can brown meats in a skillet and then throw them in a crockpot. (Make sure to deglaze the skillet to get all the brown-bits goodness.

          Also, if you mean to cook in the oven, any stainless steel dutch oven with at least a layered bottom (if not "all-clad") with layers, should do fine for browning and then braising in one pot.

          All that said, I like the heaviness and heat retention of cast iron, so I really enjoy my one LC pot and a couple of knock-offs (Walmart has a good one). Both bare cast iron and aluminum (the latter material recommended in some posts here) will be reactive to certain foods, especially acidic ones. I won't buy such pots for their limited flexibility, although they perform wonderfully in the right applications.

          Cooks Illustrated rated dutch ovens and only a very expensive one--by All-Clad--came in high among the lighter models. The rest of the high rankers were all cast iron in the rankings until about 10 down the list, when the Tramonitina Sterling II stainless steel was recommended with reservations. Worked well in most respects. It is under $100, too!

          1. re: Bada Bing

            Do you remember what were the objective criteria that CI used?

            1. re: paulj

              I have access to the exact report still but didn't want to post much copyrighted info. Some hints--they gave ratings of good, fair, and poor for three kitchen tests (beef stew, french fries, and steamed white rice) and gave the stew test extra weight in determining overall rank. They also boiled water in each pot. In the individual rankings, some other factors came in (e.g., Emeril's pot was good but too narrow at the bottom to brown much at one time); also, they tried some preseasoned cast iron pots, all of which lost their seasoning soon and made for off tastes and colors in the fries, boiled water color, etc. There was some variation in how quickly pots lost and/or regained temperature, evenness of browning, etc.

              Good that you ask, though, because the Tramontina wasn't 10 down the list but 8. Of the pots recommended without reservations, all but the All-Clad were enameled cast iron.

        2. re: paulj

          Which reminds me, paulj, speaking of commercial kitchens -- that the webstaurant store has this neat 7qt French oven that will be fairly lightweight, tri-ply, and the handles are nice and big. I have the 12 inch gratin in this line, and it washes up with no problem. Hotel pans: I have the very large one that I use at Thanksgiving, and it works very well for a roaster. Can't beat the price!

          http://www.webstaurantstore.com/vollr...

          1. re: breadchick

            Notice what they sell as braziers - for long slow cooking. Mostly stainless steel and aluminum

            http://www.webstaurantstore.com/2699/...

            In restaurant sizes, enameled cast iron would be impossibly heavy. Probably too fragile for commercial use (the enamel would chip).

            1. re: paulj

              I'm such a cookware junkie that it's probably darn good I'm limited to the standard burner grate on my range. I'd find some excuse to buy one of those honkin' large braziers!

        3. I just reread an earlier post of yours. You already have a DO. What's wrong with it? By their very nature, they're supposed to be heavy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: c oliver

            I dont' actually. I thought it was a dutch oven, but it's actually just a 6 qt soup pot. My cooking illiteracy was telling when I thought it was a dutch oven.

          2. Hi, kdlalib:

            If weight is a concern, something like tis would be ideal: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Wagner-Ware-M...

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1. I really think that you will do best with a Nordic Ware Cast Aluminum Enameled Dutch Oven like this: http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Tra...

              I've not tried them--for now I'm sticking with Cast Iron or Copper, but if weight ever becomes an issue, I'll probably try either an old uncoated oven like Kaleo suggests or a modern enameled aluminum oven. I do own several cast aluminum Nordic Ware baking items (Bundt and Popover pans) and I am very impressed with the quality. The price also seems very good. And if you are concerned about stuff being made abroad, this one's made here in the US.

              I hope this helps!

              4 Replies
              1. re: jljohn

                That looks great! It even looks like a LC or Staub. I also have some Nordic Ware baking pieces and I've really been impressed by the quality. Thanks for the suggestion!

                1. re: kdlalib

                  Note that this one is nonstick, however.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    I missed that part, sorry. I'd look for one that isn't non-stick in that case.

                2. re: jljohn

                  jljohn

                  That's a sweet looking pot at a very nice price! I'm in the market for a replacement for my LC knock-off that I bought about 10 years ago. There are a couple of nicks in the bottom. I have no clue what I did wrong but I can almost hear my mother tsk tsking much like she did when lamenting how "hard on shoes" I was.

                3. Hi -

                  I have an Emile Henry Flame dutch oven - it's ceramic, so lighter than the enameled cast-iron I inherited from my grandmother, and works well on the stovetop and in the oven.

                  http://www.emilehenryusa.com/Dutch-Ov...

                  1 Reply
                  1. I use my all clad 8 qt soup as a Dutch oven. Works fine, not heavy. I also have a problem with LC because of weight and arthritis.

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: kdlalib

                        I carry my All Clad 6 qt tri-ply stock pot to a lake place we visit. It's durable and no worries about chipping in travel. The smothered pot roast that comes from the oven is every bit as good as the ones I cook at home in the ECI. I believe America's Test Kitchen at one time rated the 6 or 8 quart AC stock pot as their first choice for a dutch oven. It browns well on stovetop before oven time too.

                        1. re: Cam14

                          Stainless steel with a multilayer base is going to brown more evenly than enameled cast iron.

                          Cast iron is not a good heat conductor. Because they are heavy they even out heat over time, but not over the area of the pot.

                          What should the heat distribution be in a pot while braising? Should the top be as hot, or hotter than the base (or sides)?

                          Some (French) braising pans have a hollow in the lid that can take cooling water or ice. The idea is condense vapors in the pot and let them drip back on the contents. A earthenware Tagine used on a stove top is supposed to work the same way. The conical lid stays cool, draining the condensate to the edges of the base.

                          On the other hand, Modernist Cuisine tries to make the case that the top should be hotter, so that radiant heat from the lid browns the exposed meat below. They cite real dutch ovens, the kind that take coals on lid, as the original braising pots.

                    1. For me, the even heating of a dutch oven is the main thing I'm looking for. I want even heat on the top, bottom and, sides.

                      I have an All-Clad Copp'r Core dutch oven and basically don't like it. The thin lid and sides just don't hold heat and moisture like my Staub, LC, and Lodge dutch ovens. If you have a good oven that heats evenly, this might not be a deal breaker but that isn't an option for me in a rental place.

                      My mother has Magnalite cookware and it cooks very well. Being cast aluminum, it is relatively light weight. It also seems easier to clean then my All-Clad DO.

                      1. I like using my All-Clad 8-quart stockpot. They call it a stockpot, but it has the shape of a Dutch oven. It's much lighter than the equivalent LC.

                        You may find the 6 quart is big enough, and obviously, it would be lighter still.

                        Here are All-Clad irregulars at a lower price than anywhere else: http://stores.cookwarenmore.com/-strs...

                        You may find eBay sellers who cost less as well. I even bought two of mine second-hand.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Jay F

                          Not only ae the irregular prices good but they are offering an extra 20% off until March 24th. You have to scroll down the page to see the sale offering. Wish I needed something!

                          1. re: Cam14

                            Thanks, Cam. I wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't told me. I'm buying a 4 quart casserole. I just got rid of some LC, and this is just the right size and function to replace two pieces.

                            1. re: Jay F

                              Congratulations! Those prices are hard to pass up. I ended up buying a saucier for my daughter, .. at least I think it's for my daughter ; )

                        2. I am finding my LC and Staub a bit heavy for me, back issues and RA in my right hand. I use a Chantal rissoto pot. Almost all of my cookware is Chantal. It is great stuff, the red looks fabulous and it amazing on induction surfaces and I find it is faster than other pans on my gas top too.

                          1. All of my SS All Clad have gone into the oven at one time or another. I do have their dutch oven which I believe is 6 qt. With a domed lid. I've had nothing but success with all of my braises. Main reason I haven't needed a heavy LC thus far.

                            1. If you are looking for light weight Dutch Oven, then you cannot look for cast iron based Dutch Oven. I suggest you look into aluminum based.

                              Nordic Ware Procast Enameled Dutch Oven is something to think about:

                              http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Tra...

                              I don't own one but I have handled them. They are very light, and inexpensive (about $40-50).

                              If you are don't mind paying a bit more and want something very nice looking and also induction ready, then the Tramontina Lyon Dutch Oven will suit you:

                              http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-...

                              Highly recommended by elbee

                              These aluminum Dutch Ovens have nonstick coating in them. Is that a problem for you? For some people, they don't want to use nonstick cookware, so I want to be clear.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Thank you so much for the great suggestions! Since I'm only 32, I always forget how limiting my RA is, until I tried to pick up a LC dutch oven. Then, I remembered. Oy vey.

                                1. re: kdlalib

                                  < until I tried to pick up a LC dutch oven>

                                  That's ok. While LC ovens are very attractive and are made to high standard, you really aren't going to miss heck a lot when it comes to the cooking results. In other words, your foods aren't going to suffer because you do not use a LC oven.

                                  As for RA, there is the Arthritis organization with recommendation products. For example, Tramontina All Generation cookware are recommended:

                                  http://www.arthritis.org/resources/ea...

                                  Dexter Russell DuoGlide was also recommended:

                                  http://www.dexterduoglide.com/certifi...

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Thanks! I really appreciate it! I can't believe I never knew that list existed. I'm still somewhat in denial about my limitations, so don't do the research I should.

                              2. If you can find them try Emile Henry Flame. Does the same things as LC and Staub but about 2/3s lighter. And you can take it fm the fridge to the oven.

                                1 Reply
                                1. Magnalite is another option, either new or vintage. There seems to be only one size available new — 5 qt round.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    Do you think a 5 qt is a good size? We're only 2 people, but we cook for more like 4. We love leftovers!

                                    1. re: kdlalib

                                      Cooking for four is a good idea for anything that takes some trouble to prepare and keeps well. I like leftovers also.

                                      I'd say a dutch oven has to be big enough for a pot roast. Five qt seems sufficient — three qt does not.

                                    2. re: GH1618

                                      Magnalite was my thought when I saw this topic too.
                                      My mother has several pieces she has had for 20+ years and still uses it.

                                    3. Calphalon Commercial is another option in aluminum, if you want one as large as 7 qt:

                                      http://store.calphalon.com/calphalon-...

                                      This is anodized aluminum, inside and out, not nonstick. I have one piece of new CC, and it's very nice. I don't know what this weighs, but it's certainly lighter than an iron pot of the same size.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        That is a nice find. I saw some Calphalon commercial Dutch ovens, but not this great price.

                                      2. I have a Chantal stainless steel pot, 5 qt, that I use for braising and stews. It's the larger round one in this photo: http://www.chantal.com/images/P/7pcsl... I got it at Home Goods, and it works just fine for what I need it to do, in terms of braises and stews. It's oven safe as well, and not very heavy at all.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: juliejulez

                                          I have 3qt Chantal that looks a lot like the 2 handled pot in that image. I'm using it right now to stew 2 lbs of pork in salsa verde.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Yes mine is the two handled one, in 5 qts.

                                          2. re: juliejulez

                                            Thanks! I've heard Chantal is more arthritis-friendly.

                                          3. Cuisinart makes a 4.5 quart dutch oven in tri ply stainless steel. It is in the FCT collection which is made in France and heavier than their cheaper, lighter stuff. I saw it on Amazon for 99 dollars. :)