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Mar 17, 2014 07:15 PM

Alternatives to LeCreuset?

My husband just burned up my third (yes, my third!) Le Creuset Dutch Oven. Can anyone recommend a good alternative, but maybe not enamled so that if he lets its go dry again, the only thing ruined is the food, not the pot? I love my Le Creuset, but I'm going broke replacing it.

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  1. Get him his own stainless steel dutch oven. And you a new le Creuset. And some strongly worded advice about how much it will cost HIM if he ruins yours again. (This is presuming you each have your own individual "fun" money. Replacing cookware instead of getting the new whatever he wants might help reinforce your point, and yes I have done this)

    1 Reply
    1. re: autumm

      Be explicit: touch my LC again, and no num nums for you ever again.

    2. My naked cast iron DO and pans came from yard sales, the best source since they were already seasoned from years of use, and because the newly-made Lodge pieces seem to have somewhat rough surfaces that take years to smooth out, even with proper seasoning.

      Cooks Illustrated recommends the Tramontina enameled DO, sold primarily at Walmart for around $40. As long as you hand-wash it and don't bang it around, it will serve you well. Costco has a pretty nice enameled DO too, for a good price though I can't remember the number.

      You're bound to get a lot of posts insisting that LC, Staub, and other elite brand pieces are worth the money. Not to me. The emperor is as naked as my old yard sale frying pan!

      11 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        I'm with you. I have a Staub and an LC (that one was a gift). I also have one of the Costco ones and a couple of Lodge. I use them interchangeably based on the size of the dish. No diff in my opinion.

        1. re: greygarious

          I have a Tramontina and a few Le Creuset pieces. Functionally, they're equal.

          The quality of the enameling on the Tramontina is inferior though; you can easily observe crazing, and mine has a small chip in it. (I've stopped using it because of the chip...)

          OTOH, the LC interiors have neither problem. In both cases, same cook, always hand-washed, not abused.

          I agree that a bare cast iron or stainless steel DO is what you're looking for. I don't have cast iron but have a few clad stainless ones that I use regularly and love.

          1. re: zhawna

            I'm curious why you've stopped using it because of a chip.

            1. re: c oliver

              There's no way to re-enamel it. Rust will always be an issue, whether I can see it or not.

              I guess I could try to season that spot, but it at a cost of $35 it's not worth it!

              1. re: zhawna

                Why will a small bit of rust be a problem? And if you don't ever use it, why not donate it?

            2. re: zhawna

              In Canada, we get a Lagotina dutch oven at Canadian Tire - these are made in China, look less clunky than the other made in china enamelled cast iron. Has anyone bought these? I asked this question here some time ago and not many responses.

              I thought naked cast iron couldn't be used with acids, and there is a lot of tomato, wine and citrus fruit in my braises.

              1. re: lagatta

                good point, if this is for lots of high acid foods, ci isn't the best option.

                1. re: qianning

                  I cook everything in all my DOs and have never tasted a difference.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I thought I was the only one! When a cast iron skillet was just about the only pan I owned I regularly simmered tomato sauces in them and never noticed any ill effect to pan or food. The tomatoe sauces probably were a little darker, but that didn't bother me any...

                    1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                      A well seasoned CI pan or DO can handle acid - I have no problem using tomatoes, deglazing with wine and making pan sauces etc - 2 caveats

                      A newly seasoned pan will not fare as well as a well seasoned one for say, a tomato ragu - once the seasoning is well established you will not need be concerned

                      Cooking with acid does not build the seasoning, therefore if you only ever used the CI to braise in acid you will eventually wear down the seasoning - you need to cook in hot fat sometimes too - so in-between the sausage and peppers and the pork ragu - try to fry some chicken :)

                      1. re: JTPhilly

                        Again, when that was my only cookware, I simmered Monday night, then made bacon for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, roast chicken quarters for dinner. I almost think every man should log one year with one cast iron pan when he starts cooking! It gave me an appreciation of so many cooking distinctions!

          2. I just got a 6qt Lodge Dutch Oven (Amazon Prime, $49.99 + tax, shipped free) after discovering my 4 year old LC had peeling enamel on the interior.

            So far it behaves exactly the same as the LC and I actually like the side handles better. Twice the size, makes it easier to lift. Never understood why the LC's had such tiny handles for such a stout pot!!

            And for $50, if it fails in a year I'll still be ahead $$$ wise on the fancy pants brand.

            I used to keep the LC out on the stovetop cause it was so pretty, but the Lodge looks just as snazzy. For now it will maintain the Place of Cooking Honor.

            1 Reply
            1. re: VelociWedge42

              Return the LC and get a replacement, if you bought it new.

            2. Hi, Birdbody:

              You might try Cabela's house brand. Undoubtedly made in China, they're thick, heavy, crude and well-nigh indestructible. They will only sell to you if you're wearing your Sunday-go-to-meeting camo (just kidding).