Dutch Ovens

Get your mind out of the gutter. This is Cafe Society.

My wife hates my ancient cast aluminum chili pot. She is hinting around for a dutch oven as a Christmas present. I hear good things about Lodge Enameled Cast Iron ovens, and they’re a lot cheaper that La Creuset. What say the Dope? Any recommendations?

I checked Cook’s Illustrated for you to see what they say. Their top 3 were:

  1. Le Creuset 7 1/4-Quart Round French Oven
  2. Tramontina 6.5-Qt. Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  3. Lodge Enamel-on-Cast-Iron 6-Quart Dutch Oven

They preferred the Tramontina because it had more capacity for the same price. Can’t go wrong with any of the 3. I don’t have a cast iron dutch oven, but I want one. I have a number of Lodge cast iron posts, and they are great.

I bought a Marsha Stewart version at Macy’s on sale and am pleased with its performance as well; I see it wasn’t tested by Cook’s Illustrated (considering the test was in 2007, the brand might not have been available then, even) so that might be another option to consider if you can’t find the others.

I want to get one, too, now, damnit!

I don’t think I would have any hesitation buying any name brand. I have a Le Creuset, but I got lucky and got it with a Williams & Sonoma gift certificate I got for Christmas. The thing is to be careful not to chip the enamel; if you can keep from doing that, it won’t rust and it will last forever. Mine came with four little plastic clips to put on the pan to separate it from the lid to separate them in storage. If you don’t get them, improvise anything to avoid storing the lid directly on the pot.

She will love you for this.

I’ve got a Le Creuset, and I’m thinking I might need another size one of these days. Costco has a slightly smaller size - hmm, that’ll be on my wish list.

I went to Target’s website, and they have three brands there. I can’t remember which one I’ve handled at the store, so I will not offer a specific opinion on them, but they all look decent on the website.

I have the Lodge because I could get it at Wal-Mart or Target and not pay shipping costs. It works fine for me.

Staub, Le Creuset, Lodge, etc. They’re all great. Just get whichever one you like the best, or go for the best deal you can get. Le Creuset & Lodge both have outlet stores across the country, and they are constantly running sales.

Since you brought it up, can you explain what a dirty mind might think when you mention “Dutch ovens”? Because I’m racking my brain and I can only think of the cooking usage of the term.

Fart under the covers when in bed, then pull the covers over the head of your significant other so they can “share” in the aroma.

Personally, I’m perfectly happy with my huge no-brand 18 euros unenameled cast iron pot. It takes a bit more care - you need to keep it seasoned and you can’t use detergent (just wash with hot water) - but they last for forever like any cast iron pan and you don’t need to worry about chipping the coating. Also, it gives an additional iron taste to tomato based sauces, which I personally like.

As far as I can tell, unenameled pots are all good, just make sure you get one with handles that can survive in the oven. All cast-iron is probably best.

I love my Lodge cast iron dutch ovens. They are unenameled, but as long as you dry properly, and lightly oil prior to storage, they don’t tend to rust…

I’d love a couple of enameled ones though, for cooking high acid foods like chili and tomato sauces… but the expense has kept me away.

I have two Staubs and a $40 enameled cast-iron Dutch oven I bought at Target. I use them interchangeably with no real notice of difference. The Staubs seem to be holding up better–the Target one (which doesn’t have the brand name on it. Or, if it did, it was on the handle which I replaced with a metal one, since I was using it at 500 degree temps in the oven) has minor scratches along the inside bottom’s enameling, but performs just as good as the Staubs. The Staubs don’t have any enamel on the inside, just cast iron, so I can’t really compare, but they look as good as the day I got them as a gift from my considerate brother.

I’m sure she loves you forever already, but you really can’t go wrong with the gift of a LeCreuset or Staub. If I were buying for myself, I’m not sure whether I’d spring the premium on them or not, though. I’d probably just go with a Lodge. As a gift? The others.

I’ve got just a regular cast iron one because I’ve never forked out for the enameled version. It’s probably Lodge, since that’s what’s easy to find these days and is good quality.

I used to have a really old one, but I took it to a guy to see if he could fix a crack that was starting in it, and never got it back. :frowning:

We just use the stainless steel small stockpot if we’re doing tomatoes. Although I’m pretty sure we’ve cooked tomatoes in the cast iron, too. Cast iron is usually the first thing grabbed in my kitchen. I’d have to think about it to remember “high acid food, cast iron bad”.

I remember a relatively recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen, wherein they tested and rated Dutch ovens for optimal price-to-performance ratio. Their conclusion? Mario Batali’s line of cookware had the best. I wish I had known that before I bought my Le Creuset - his was a good bit cheaper.

I have two unenameled dutch ovens.

One has legs for cooking over a campfire. I picked it up at the Lodge factory store (I’m only 1.5 hours away from where they’re made). I’ve even used it to bake bread over an open fire. The other is a no name one that I inherited from my grandmother, so Og knows just how old it is. Although this is used primarily indoors, every couple of years, I do use it camping to burn any crud off the outside before reseasoning. This can also be done on the self cleaning cycle of your stove’s oven.

I’m happy with both of them but am considering a slightly smaller enameled one for cooking acidic foods somewhere down the road. If you take care of them, any decent quality brand will pretty much last forever.

Can’t comment on brands, but cast iron rocks. My mom took one from an aunt who was throwing it away (for no apparent reason). We kids grew up loving the food she cooked in that thing! Chili and pot roast (never could replicate her best ever pot roast).

I have often wished I had that darned cast iron dutch oven!

I love my cast iron chicken fryer and skillet, but it’s too heavy for my wife to handle one-handed. She wants something a little deeper, two-handles, and enameled so she can make marinara in it.

Keep the suggestions coming!

I have two of these from IKEA (in different sizes):

I’ve used them for baking bread, making stews, pot roasts, braised lamb shanks, etc. They’re very reasonably priced and I have had no problems whatsoever with 'em.

Can’t speak specifically for their Dutch ovens, but I have an enameled Lodge skillet and like it. They chip VERY easily, though – in fact, several at the store, still in the box, had chips. Mine was unchipped, but now has a small chip out of the handle.

Not sure if Le Creuset avoids chipping better – my mom’s 15" Le Creuset skillet has gotten a few chips over the years.