Great deal on a 6qt enameled cast iron dutch oven

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/26/great-deal-on-a-6qt-enameled-c.html

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I have one, great price, good value. Note: better in the oven than on top of stove, it has a few hot spot, and your food will stick to those areas.

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F rating on FakeSpot; plastic lid handle; conflicting product specs within the listing (max temp reported as anywhere from 300 F to 500 F depending on where you look); mystery ceramic coating manufactured by no-name Chinese manufacturer? Hard pass on this one folks. Buy a Le Creuset or Staub that will last a lifetime.

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Cast iron always has hot spots. Long preheats over moderate heat, with a lot of moving the pan around the burner and swirling oil around before getting started helps even them out.

And food will always stick at least a bit to enameled cast iron. It’s sort of the point vs bare seasoned cast iron. Sticking leads to fond, fond leads to flavor. That’s why non stick makes shitty pan sauces.

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Hey, melamine is good for you!

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For what it’s worth, the AmazonBasics enameled cast iron dutch oven has been making lovely stews and chilis for me all winter long.

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I prefer non-enameled since I don’t have to worry much about the coating when I’m cleaning it. You could clean a bare cast iron pot with a chisel if the problem was bad enough. Plus once cast iron is seasoned it is quite resistant to sticking.

I really don’t like the plastic handle on this one. Even if you’re cooking at a lower temp in the oven, the radiant heat from the top burner could push it over the edge. Luckily it is almost certainly just screwed in so you can replace it easily.

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Replacement metal handles exist for a bunch of brands, and it should be easy enough to find one that fits.

In terms of durability, enameled is pretty durable even if bare is pretty much bullet proof. And the enamel can be cleaned chemically is things are really bad without risk or damage. Barkeeper’s friend and oven cleaner are popular choices, especially if it’s a bit stained.

But they’re for different things. Enameled is better for building (and seeing) fond and deals with acidic foods better. Which is why it’s often preferred for braising and stewing and is most common in Dutch ovens and coquottes. Enameled skillets and what have exist but they’re nowhere near as popular. Since if you don’t need what bare cast iron brings to the table you get more out of multiply stainless and aluminum. Which build fond even better, but are a lot more responsive to heat changes and heat much more evenly.

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I have to agree on this one. I think it’s a Lodge that’s been rebranded. Their non-enamel cast iron is not that great, but this has worked really well for me.

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An easy and cheap way to replace the lid handle is to use a large drawer knob from your local hardware store. That’s what I used for my knockoff dutch oven that I bought from Walmart at a discount. It has worked well for years.

I also second using a dutch oven for baking bread. And not just freeform loaves, the oven is large and deep enough to hold a regular loaf pan.

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Along with price tags that will kill you. Cuisinart makes pretty good ones, without the eye-watering price.

… That must create some bad feelings around dinner time

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There is a Le Cruiset store in an outlet mall near here. I went in once gift shopping for mom, as said outlet stores apparently carried discontinued patterns and “slightly damaged” dutch ovens at ridiculously deep discounts. Where slight damage is missing knobs that are easily replaced, or slight discoloration on the interior, or unnoticeable chips in decorative parts of the thing.

They had a guy in a god damn 3 piece suit and white cotton gloves greeting people at the door. And he basically wouldn’t let me in the door, asking questions and stepping where I was trying to walk. He basically told me to leave, and I don’t remember the exact words but it was something along the lines of not being the quality of customer they service.

That fucking brand is not getting a dime out of me. You aren’t paying for quality or utility there. You’re paying for the sort of luxury life style brand that does seasonally released color palettes. And paying them a premium so they can afford to have smug god damn butlers keep the mid-20’s, casually dressed, white riffraff out of their strip mall discount stores.

Apparently they no longer have Jeeves guarding the door, but they’re also too good to sell discounted product of any sort these days. I’ve heard the staff are nearly as rude though.

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FWIW, Le Creuset does offer a “limited lifetime warranty.”
https://www.lecreuset.com/warranty

Who is covered by this warranty?

This Lifetime Limited Warranty covers the original retail consumer purchaser of the utensil, or a consumer who receives the utensil new and unused as a gift from the original retail purchaser. Coverage terminates if a covered consumer sells or otherwise transfers the utensil (this warranty is provided only to consumers, and all express and implied warranties to non-consumers are disclaimed).

How long does this warranty last?

This Lifetime Limited Warranty begins on the date of purchase and lasts as long as a covered consumer

So maybe part of their steep price has the manufacturer’s replacement costs built in, if a pot, oven, pan etc. goes bad.

I managed to crack a Lodge dutch oven about 30 years ago, over a commercial restaurant gas stove, making chicken - sausage jambalaya at a now-defunct Creole restaurant (we made ours fresh every day). I don’t exactly know what happened, but this was the older, better, thicker Lodge-brand cast iron, and all of us cooks were plenty surprised. It would have been good to have gotten a free replacement for that.

Surely there is a science and an art to making good enamelware. Periodically I hear from foodies and food pros that Chinese-made ware sometimes has a higher lead content in their glazes, so it’s caveat emptor all the way with anything you cook food in including some Le Creuset ware.

I found this blog post interesting because of the author employed lab testing to determine leaching of undesirable heavy metals:
https://thenaturalbabymama.com/your-home/kitchen/cookware/leach-testing-cookware-heavy-metals/

Btw cast iron itself is apparently not with potential issues as well:
http://www.modemac.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl/Cast_Iron_Politics

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Or a lab tech. Or a scientist with a PhD in chemistry.

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Yeah, honestly the Le Creuset or Lodge ones are not that expensive all things considered. We have one.

I have a Lodge, which is definitely not as nice as the Le Creusets I’ve used, but costs a fraction as much and has been perfectly functional for years.

Well, a Lodge enameled Dutch oven will run you about $50, and a comparable Le Creuset is about $350, so I guess your definition of affordable depends on whether you plan on your decedents using it.

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I have both. They are interchangeable.

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Well $50 is pretty affordable for quality cookware, especially given that the one they’re talking about here is on sale for $35 - $15 is not a dealbreaker amount. I got the Le Crueset and Lodge mixed up.