Dutch Ovens

Dutch Oven: Anachronism / Ignorance


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Cookware Dutch Ovens

Dutch Oven: Anachronism / Ignorance

Harryr | | Mar 18, 2011 08:45 PM

It's a puzzler, that big shiny red 6 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven taking up my counter. Is The Red Beast significantly better for anything I might do then cookware I already have?

I know that many people love them. But in my ignorance it isn't obvious why that might be, or whether this beautiful beast will be worth it's size, weight, and trouble in my limited space apartment. I don't use red meat, but enjoy fish, chicken, vegetables, etc.

For soups, I have a relatively inexpensive domed stockpot that holds about 4 quarts - some might call it a stainless dutch oven, as well as a large stockpot with a heavy bottom.

My well seasoned cast iron skillet is a long time favorite. Though slow to heat because cast iron is such a poor heat conductor, it's fantastic for searing, can be heated very hot, no worry about cracking, chipping, or staining, and cleanup is a snap.

For rice, a heavy bottomed saucepan with a good sealing lid works well.

There is also a good 10 inch, and a fair 12 inch, stainless saute pan - they get a lot of use - even for sauces and soups

That big shiny Red Beast enameled dutch oven can go from stove to oven - but so can every other piece I own except the largest stockpot. In the oven, it would heat and slow cook with great eveness. But because it is cast iron, it is a poor conductor of heat, making energy transfer much less efficient then stainless - in other words it will burn up a lot more energy to do the same job. As for temperature stability, in an oven, the temperature is stable anyway.

On the stovetop, with it's wasteful slow inefficient heat conduction and monster weight, why would I choose it over one of the stainless pieces I already have?

In addition, given it's weight and the vulnerability of the vitreous enamel, it looks like cleanup of The Red Beast would have to be handled with care.

So what can the Red Beast do to make it worthwhile for this non beef eater? Would a crockpot be more useful?

Thanks for reading, and for your tolerance of my ignorance...