Of course there’s more to say.
This was sort of an impulse purchase. The price was right. The moon was full. And I wanted to find out what was so special about a Dutch oven.
Without actually comparing to another Dutch oven, this one does not look cheap. It looks like a quality product. There are no visible flaws in the enamel finish. The finish is bright and shiny. There were two colors offered at my ALDI, this blue and an even bolder red. The weight suggests there’s plenty of cast iron. The cover has a metal knob (but check the picture on your box before purchasing), which allows the Dutch oven to be used in a real oven up to 500 degrees F. The inside is white. The lid is not warped which allows it to produce a good seal with the body. There are two handles on the side which you’ll need to lift it. The top edge of the body and the bottom edge of the cover, where the two come together to form the seal, are not the same color as either the inside or the outside. The black color of these areas appears to be just unfinished cast iron. That makes sense as this is the area where the top will make contact with the bottom and if there was an enamel finish there, it would likely get chipped.
To keep the finish looking good, inside and out, don’t use any metal utensils or metal cleaning pads or abrasive cleaners for that matter. All of these will damage the enamel. Also be gentle when moving. Bumps into other heavy or sharp objects will eventually damage the enamel on any product.
My first try at cooking in the Dutch oven came out excellent. This was even after having to improvising a recipe and cooking instructions. Aside from some use and care instructions, there are no recipes or cooking charts that come with oven. You’re on your own and the internet and my one (so far) recipe to figure out what to do with the darn thing. I was really surprised, after doing some internet research, that most recipes call for the Dutch oven to be placed in the real oven. That’s not what I was expecting to find. I was expecting to find the same type of low and slow cooking that can be done in an oven (without the Dutch oven), being done on the stove top in the Dutch oven. Improvising the stove top instructions was a further challenge. Regardless of my perceptions or false perceptions, the food, on the stove top, came out just fine. Here’s the link to my Stove Top Dutch Oven Pot Roast recipe. Two more, Stove Top Dutch Oven Chicken Cacciatore, Stove Top Dutch Oven Hamburger Stew.
That brings us right down to the clean up. Clean up was easy. Some hot water, a little dish detergent, a soft nylon pad, a rinse and a dry, cleaned up the oven quickly. Be sure to dry with a towel by hand right after cleaning. The Dutch oven cannot be washed in the dishwasher. That’s probably a good thing for the oven and for the dishwasher.
The one disadvantage of a cast iron Dutch oven is, it’s heavy (about 12 pounds). And the six quart one is big. Together that’s big and heavy, even empty. You’ll want to have a well thought out storage place, big enough and easy to get to, before buying one. Or learn to like the looks of it on top of your stove and learn to use it for most of your cooking needs. I was surprised to learn many people use Dutch ovens to boil water for pasta. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a Dutch oven seems like a little overkill for boiled water. But it all makes sense when you consider this is not a pot that you’ll want to move back and forth from some out-of-the-way storage location.
But on the other hand that big heavy mass is what allows the Dutch oven to mask many of our cooking mistakes, making Dutch oven cooking a relatively easy technique to use, especially when low slow cooking is needed.
As mentioned at the start, the price was right. This one was $29.99. That’s about half of what similar Dutch ovens cost when not on sale at other stores. It’s about 6 times less than the high-end Dutch ovens. Time will tell how good $30 really is. For now, for one meal, that $30 worked well.