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Old 10-17-2007, 07:03 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, 07:28 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, 07:36 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, 07:40 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, 08:21 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, 08:57 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, 09:14 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, 09:34 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, 09:42 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, 10:05 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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Old 10-17-2007, 11:18 PM   #11
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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.
Michael, I've always seen and heard the term camp Dutch oven used in reference to the oven with three supporting legs and a flanged lid, as opposed to the one with no legs and a domed lid. If I'm not mistaken, John G. Ragsdale, author of Dutch Ovens Chronicled: Their Use In The United States and considered by many to be an expert on the subject, describes a camp oven in that manner. As you state in another post, even Lodge refers to them that way. So I'm intrigued. I would really like to get my terminolgy correct. Do you have any resources you can direct me to so that I do some further reading?
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Old 10-17-2007, 11:59 PM   #12
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Sounds like you are familiar with cast iron cooking. If not do not let seasoning scare you off. Just remember not to use soap or a scrubbing pad on cast iron. It removes the seasoning. My cast iron is well seasoned and only requires hot water to clean it. We have DO's, frying pans, camp ovens, and a wok. Last a lifetime and inexpensive compared to other types on the market. Seasoning does not happen overnight. You do the initial seasoning then it builds as you use it. I find the traditional cast iron creates a smoother finish over time than the pre-seasoned type you can now purchase.
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Old 10-18-2007, 06:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Cottrell
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.
Good choice David. Check out Lodge Brand's 5 quart "Kitchen" models. They are 10 1/4" by 4" deep which is a good size for the kitchen. They have, I think, three 5 quart models. 2 with wire bails, and 1 with loop handles. If you plan on going in and out of the stove you may find the one with loop handls a little easier to use.

Enjoy!
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:36 AM   #14
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Thanks again to all, including Katie E - I learned a bunch from you also, for a later purchase. Meanwhile it does seem that Lodge Brand Dutch Oven is well recommended in a five quart size with appropriate handles. This place can't be beat - for anyone just looking go ahead and join up! You will be glad you did.
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutchess
Michael, I've always seen and heard the term camp Dutch oven used in reference to the oven with three supporting legs and a flanged lid, as opposed to the one with no legs and a domed lid. If I'm not mistaken, John G. Ragsdale, author of Dutch Ovens Chronicled: Their Use In The United States and considered by many to be an expert on the subject, describes a camp oven in that manner. As you state in another post, even Lodge refers to them that way. So I'm intrigued. I would really like to get my terminolgy correct. Do you have any resources you can direct me to so that I do some further reading?
Well, Dutchess - you have certainly done more reading about this than I have ... but, I don't think I ever implied I was an authority on the subject:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW
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. ...
And since none of them ever graduated hi-school I doubt I was getting a scholarly education - just edumacated by what they knew to call these things.

Now, if a camp oven or a camp dutch oven is a flat-topped pot with 3 legs and a dutch oven has a flat bottom and a domed lid - I can live with that, and change how I refer to them!
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Old 10-18-2007, 04:47 PM   #16
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I'm in the market for a DO, thanks for all the great info!!!
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
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
I’ve been studying this a bit, and for the life of me, all I can come up with is oval for the loin (and add veggies!) and round for the last three items (assuming the pork roast is not a full shoulder). I would do so based on the shape of the meat, and how I’m going to place the coals and get heat circulating.

So, what is the reasoning and logic here for doing it right?
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
Now, if a camp oven or a camp dutch oven is a flat-topped pot with 3 legs and a dutch oven has a flat bottom and a domed lid - I can live with that, and change how I refer to them!
Oh, and by-the-way (BTW), I had an epiphany about your user-name tonight. Call me slow! But I always read it as:

Michael in FTW = Michael in For The Win (FTW is net slang for “For The Win”).

I paid a little more attention tonight and noticed that you more than likely meant Forth Worth (FtW) Texas. Yeah, feeling real smart about now!!

But still….my way had a nice ring and rhyme to it…..Michael in….For The Win!!! Which you usually do!
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:01 PM   #19
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I actually don't have an answer, keltin - just wanted to see what others thought about it and what they would have as justification for their choice.

If I had a round and an oval french oven ... I would probably select one based on the overall shape of the food - tenderloins and chickens are oval - roasts are generally round ... depending on the roast.

What made me think of it was actually a TV cook/chef that called for using an oval dutch oven to make a stew.

Yeah - FtW stands for Fort Worth, TX. Hey - I'm a Rangers (baseball) fan - win isn't in my vocabulary!
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:23 PM   #20
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Please excuse me for joining in because I have a question instead of an answer but since I'm just learning myself, wouldn't an oval French oven work good for a shoulder or ham since it seems like their shapes would be sort of form fitting?
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