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Old 10-17-2007, 08:03 PM   #1
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Exclamation Dutch Oven Advice Please

Dutch ovens I know from nothing - but to try some of the most excellent ideas here I need one. Help me, I don't even know the right questions - something for top of stove and oven? How to select for decent quality - don't want to invest a gazillion dollars. Is cast iron a good bet? Hope to have some good advice, please!

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Old 10-17-2007, 08:28 PM   #2
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David, the first question I have to ask is, "Are you speaking of strictly indoor use, as opposed to cooking over coals outside?" If you are interested in "stovetop or oven" Dutch oven cooking, then, I can weigh in.

I'm a lover of Le Creuset cookware and have a few of their Dutch ovens. They may seem pricey, but they can be found at places that won't break the bank, such as T.J. Max, At Caplan-Duval we sell Waterford Crystal, Denby, Noritake, Le creuset, Spode, Portmeirion and so much more and eBay.

The beauty of this cookware is that the lids seal so tightly that braising is fantastic. It also works beautifully on top of the stove as in the oven.

Because it's made if enamel-coated cast-iron, it doesn't require seasoning (not that that is a difficult process) and cast-iron has the great quality of retaining heat...and more and more.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-17-2007, 08:36 PM   #3
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Personally………..I’d suggest an outdoor camp DO, but I’m partial to that!

For a good DO for inside cooking, go with cast iron, flat bottom. domed lid, and go with Lodge. You can’t beat them. Cast iron is slow to heat, but holds heat fantastically. It can be used on stove-top or oven. A fantastic piece!

And dang if these great pieces aren’t also very affordable!!!

If you want a DO for outdoor, then go with one with this design. You need a flat lid and legs to keep it off the ground.

A 10" is great to start with and perfect for 2 people. A 12" is bigger and can handle most anything.
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Old 10-17-2007, 08:40 PM   #4
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As Katie says, enamel offers even more ease of use. No need to season! But make sure the enamel is rated to at least 450 degrees. I've seen cheap enamel cookware only rated to 350 in the oven!
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:21 PM   #5
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It's easy to be confused - the term dutch oven has been so missused it's had for anyone to figure out what one is.

A REAL Dutch Oven is designed for use on a campfire - not on a stovetop or in an oven. It is made of thick cast iron, has three short legs on the bottom and has a relatively flat lid with a lip around it to keep coals from sliding off. They probably got their name from being made using the Dutch process of casting iron, and by heating from the top and bottom they acted like an oven.

Something else called a Dutch Oven is a camp oven ... again made from thick cast iron - no legs and has a domed lid with cone-shaped spikes on the bottom of the lid ... these collect condensation and help redistribute the moisture evenly across the pot. These can be used on the stovetop or in the oven.

Now, another pot that is often mistakenly called a Ducth Oven is a pot made from thinner cast iron and coated with enamel - like LeCruset. These are "French" Ovens ... if you look at LeCruset's website and you will not find the term Dutch Oven anywhere. These are also excellent for stovetop and oven.

And the others ... manufacturers who don't know what to call a 5 or 6 qt pot that is wider than it is tall just call them "Ducth Ovens" regardless of the material - because they are the same shape even if they share none of the cooking characteristics of a real DO.

Cast iron, and enamel coated cast iron, pots share one things in common ... cast iron is a POOR (slow) but EVEN heat conductor ... which is exactly what makes them so great for long, slow cooking - over a camp fire, on the stovetop or in the oven ... as the temperature around them changes they remain more constant than copper, aluminum, hard anodized aluminum or stainless steel.

Enameled cast iron doesn't have to be seasoned ... which is an advantage over regular cast iron ... plus it comes in pretty colors, it cost more, and is more prone to damage from thermal shock. LeCruset is the most famous French Oven - and the most expensive ... there are other less know brands that are IMHO just as good. But, like keltin said - check the oven specs to see how hot you can get it. Although the enameling process requires some really high temps - really thin enamel coatings are not always rated for higher oven temps.

What you get depends on what you're going to use it for and how.

Sorry ... calling every 5-6 qt pot a dutch oven is like scraping fingernails across a blackboard to me ...
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
It's easy to be confused - the term dutch oven has been so missused it's had for anyone to figure out what one is.

A REAL Dutch Oven is designed for use on a campfire - not on a stovetop or in an oven. It is made of thick cast iron, has three short legs on the bottom and has a relatively flat lid with a lip around it to keep coals from sliding off. They probably got their name from being made using the Dutch process of casting iron, and by heating from the top and bottom they acted like an oven.

Something else called a Dutch Oven is a camp oven ... again made from thick cast iron - no legs and has a domed lid with cone-shaped spikes on the bottom of the lid ... these collect condensation and help redistribute the moisture evenly across the pot. These can be used on the stovetop or in the oven.

Now, another pot that is often mistakenly called a Ducth Oven is a pot made from thinner cast iron and coated with enamel - like LeCruset. These are "French" Ovens ... if you look at LeCruset's website and you will not find the term Dutch Oven anywhere. These are also excellent for stovetop and oven.

And the others ... manufacturers who don't know what to call a 5 or 6 qt pot that is wider than it is tall just call them "Ducth Ovens" regardless of the material - because they are the same shape even if they share none of the cooking characteristics of a real DO.

Cast iron, and enamel coated cast iron, pots share one things in common ... cast iron is a POOR (slow) but EVEN heat conductor ... which is exactly what makes them so great for long, slow cooking - over a camp fire, on the stovetop or in the oven ... as the temperature around them changes they remain more constant than copper, aluminum, hard anodized aluminum or stainless steel.

Enameled cast iron doesn't have to be seasoned ... which is an advantage over regular cast iron ... plus it comes in pretty colors, it cost more, and is more prone to damage from thermal shock. LeCruset is the most famous French Oven - and the most expensive ... there are other less know brands that are IMHO just as good. But, like keltin said - check the oven specs to see how hot you can get it. Although the enameling process requires some really high temps - really thin enamel coatings are not always rated for higher oven temps.

What you get depends on what you're going to use it for and how.

Sorry ... calling every 5-6 qt pot a dutch oven is like scraping fingernails across a blackboard to me ...
Well that was some work, but Michael is right. And there you have it. That’s the technical aspects of it. It can be hard to remember, but Michael is right. Just glad I didn’t have to type that out!

Which brings me to this……Michael, we’ve seen this a few times. Is it not possible to make FAQ or sticky concerning this. It would be far easier to post a link than re-type or cut-n-paste this every time. I think a sticky in the DO section would be very good.

Can we just sticky your reply here and call it something like “ Differences in a real DO” or something similar? It would be a very helpful reference for cut-n-paste! Or wanderers to the site.
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:14 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone - I think I have it! Use will be indoors stove top or oven. Modest prices sound like cast iron as I don't mind seasoning and special care in cleaning - like a cast iron skillet is hard to beat. I'll check out the French recommendations for a later purchase (thanks Katie M). Flat top for coals and domed lid for indoors I understand.
Yes, a sticky might be a good idea for this question - surely it comes up from time to time.
Thanks again
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:34 PM   #8
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I'll look into the sticky idea keltin. Honestly - this is such a passionate thing with me that the words just flow off of my fingers ... no matter how many times I've typed it. Although I didn't post a reply - I simply couldn't because I was so beside myself - you should have been around to see my reaction when someone called a 3-qt LeCruset sauce pan a small dutch oven 3-4 years ago!
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Old 10-17-2007, 10:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
I'll look into the sticky idea keltin. Honestly - this is such a passionate thing with me that the words just flow off of my fingers ... no matter how many times I've typed it. Although I didn't post a reply - I simply couldn't because I was so beside myself - you should have been around to see my reaction when someone called a 3-qt LeCruset sauce pan a small dutch oven 3-4 years ago!
LOL! I can imagine!

Your posts are great and very factual. This thread alone is worthy of a sticky just based on cookware shapes and uses. You've actually taught me quite a bit with the terminology and use! Keep it up, and let's consider a sticky or FAQ for this!!!
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:05 PM   #10
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LOL - I learned about these things and how to use them from my grandparents, aunts and uncles that actually traveled to TX in wagons from GA, MS, AL - and used them on the trail. It's a shame that even Lodge has vacillated in what they call a dutch oven and a camp oven ... a year or so ago they called a DO a camp oven, but in the Boy Scout cookware they got the names right! Go figure ...

Logic test: when would you want to use a round vs an oval french oven, and why to cook the following:

1) Pork/beef tenderloin
2) Beef pot roast
3) Roasting a whole chicken
4) Pork roast
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