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Old 03-14-2006, 09:37 PM   #1
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Cast Iron vs Stainless Steel dutch oven

hi,
I am thinking about buying a cast iron enamel coated dutch oven, which is pretty expensive (about $175-$200). I currently have a decent quality stainless steel dutch oven (without enamel coating). My question is: will the cast iron dutch oven cook much better than my current stainless steel dutch oven, enough to justify the expense? The dutch oven will be used indoors in oven or on stovetop.
thanks,gary

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Old 03-14-2006, 09:44 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary b
hi,
I am thinking about buying a cast iron enamel coated dutch oven, which is pretty expensive (about $175-$200). I currently have a decent quality stainless steel dutch oven (without enamel coating). My question is: will the cast iron dutch oven cook much better than my current stainless steel dutch oven, enough to justify the expense?
thanks,gary
If the enamel one is a Le Creuset then from personal experience I can say that I have gotten very good results, better than my SS All-Clad braising/roasting pan.
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:22 PM   #3
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It really depends on the type of cooking you are planning to do in the dutch oven. The enamled cast iron is slower to heat, and will maintain a more even cooking temperature that will SS. This is good for foods that require long cooking times, like post roasts, boiled dinner, braised meats, baked beans, caseroles, etc.

The stainless will be better for roasts that are supposed to be quickly cooked such as a prime rib, or to finish steaks, or for lasagna, where long cooking times are not necessary. Also, the SS is better for foods cooked without a cover, with the emamled cast iron taking bows for covered foods.

Both have strengths and weaknesses. There is no one material that does everything perfectly. There are trade offs to every cooking material.

This, grasshopper, you will learn only with experience and practice, or by asking someone with experience and practice.

Goodweed says; There is no substitue for personal experience, though the learning curve is accelerated exponentially by absorbing the learned knowledge by those who have gone before you. Otherwise, you are just re-inventing the wheel.

If you want the scientific explanations, there are those on this site who can give you an explanation that will involve things better left to engineers and scientists, right Michael?

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Old 03-17-2006, 01:38 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help. I think i'll take your advice and go with a good enameled cast iron dutch oven. I'm considering Le Creuset or the 6 Qt.dutch oven chef Batali sells, made by COPCO and from china I think .
happy cookin, gary
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Old 03-17-2006, 03:04 PM   #5
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Your SS ... is it disc bottom or clad (thick metal all up the sides) If it is disc bottom, the cast iron will surely outcook it. If it is clad, you will notice certain differences but less drastic. Still, it's worth the investment for a good piece of enamaled cast iron.
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Old 03-17-2006, 06:13 PM   #6
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my SS dutch oven is disc bottom i just found out.

what kind of differences will i notice? Less cooking time or better taste and texture etc?
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Old 03-23-2006, 10:10 AM   #7
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The cast-iron will be a wonderful investment - it will last several lifetimes, looks absolutely beautiful 'on the table' if you serve family-style and YES it will cook far, far better than your disc-bottom stainless. More tender, more moist, less burning on the bottom, more flavour....

Before you buy, however - if you have a local 'Tuesday Morning' store (check on the internet), then go there first. I just bought a stunning 'Staub Basix' 9qt cast iron french oven for around $130-140 there, to complement my smaller 5qt Le Creuset one. Staub is another very respected maker, and is just as good, if not a little better, than Le Creuset (The Staub has thicker sides). Tuesday Morning has smaller sizes too if 9qts is too big (I cook things like spaghetti sauce, chilli, curries etc., in bulk and then freeze portions for busy days - the 9qt size gives me around 10 meals for two).

If there is no Tuesday Morning, then check out internet stores also, and e-bay. You can get some great bargains there too. Check out Amazon.com for customer reviews on Dutch Ovens or French Ovens before you buy from anywhere - there are some cheap brands out there that just aren't as good.

Happy cooking
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Old 03-23-2006, 11:26 AM   #8
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DIsc bottom SS only heats evenly from the bottom. SS does not convey heat quickly or evenly. DIsc bottom pots are best for top of stove cooking. And then they require a bit more attention to keep the food moving and heating evenly if making a stew for example.

Cast iron heats slowly, but evenly and retains heat well for a long time so it is great for the oven, and also for searing and browning as it can take and maintain high heat. PLain cast iron needs correct seasoning (oiling and baking before use) Enameled cast iron does not as the enamled surface is non reactive.

I would not buy a SS dutch oven that was disc bottom, or if I did, I would not use it as an oven cooker. It won't ruin your food, but you won't get the same results, and you will need to give it more attention.

Many of us here have found that a variety of different types of pots and pans gives you the versatility in the kitchen to do anything you want to do. Part of the fun is collecting the items you need/want over time...bargain hunting etc.
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Old 03-23-2006, 02:57 PM   #9
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paint and robo,

Thanks for the tips, Staub is another brand I'm considering and am happy to hear someone elses opinion on it. Also, I'm looking into "Tuesday morning" right now. I mistakenly bought a couple of Cusinart(sp?) pieces(sauce pots) with the disc bottom before I checked with people on this site, who tell me All-clad is best.
Live and learn i guess. I'm looking into "other" brands with "All Clad design" that might be of very good quality without having to pay for the All Clad name. Thanks again
Gary
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Old 03-23-2006, 03:00 PM   #10
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All Clad is great stuff, but a lot of the price does go to paying for that name. You can get great cookware for less money that will perform just as well as All Clad. You just need to know what to look for. If you have a restaurant supply store near by then cheack that out too. The stuff you buy there might not look as pretty as All Clad, but if you don't mind that then you can save a lot of $$$.
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