Monday, February 1, 2016

Enameled Cast Iron - Pricey But Worth It

Martha Stewart 6 Qt. Dutch Oven
I am a cast iron snob.  However, I recently was searching for a dutch oven that measured under 9 inches diameter.  I found a small enameled cast iron covered casserole that was the correct size. I fully expected to hate it as I immediately tested it with fire - literally - and found it to be such a great product that I want to purchase an entire set.  I think you will too.

My Kitchen Dilemma

I prefer cast iron and I needed a cast iron pan for cooking in the woodstove that came with my newly acquired "Shack".  Setting up kitchen in a plywood, ramshackle Shack is fairly hit and miss.  The first few pans and dutch ovens I moved up there were not suitable for woodstove cooking. Or they did not fit into the oven door that measured just over 9 inches.

While online shopping for small cast iron pieces, I began to research enameled cast iron dutch (also called a french oven or cocotte). But wow... enameled cast iron is pricey!


While checking the local brick and mortar stores, I happened upon the Martha Stewart collection at the local Macy's and purchased exactly what I needed.  

choose your color

The Solution 

The Martha Stewart Collection was the most economical collection - in the size I needed - that I could find.  You can find the entire collection at your local Macy's store.  The 6 qt. casseroles can be purchased on Amazon.  

I purchased two of the 2 qt. size and currently have one at the apartment and one at the Shack.  I LOVE the colors these come in. I was very skeptical about this pretty pan that I was putting into the woodstove.  I expected immediate discoloration, uneven cooking, and perhaps damage to the pan.  I certainly didn't expect the enamel to be as durable as my beloved old-fashion cast iron.

But it was as durable.  And I was amazed at how easily the pan cleaned up. The shack is a dry-cabin thus far so I use water for washing as sparingly as possible.  I also do not yet have things such as pan "scrubbies" up there.  With just rain water, a soft wash cloth, and a small bit of dishsoap, my pan washed up easily.  Almost as easily as non-stick really. 


I have already used it for approximately 10 meals. From things such as stews and casseroles in the oven to frying bacon on the oven top. I did not expect it to cook evenly.  Of course, in the wood stove, I turn the pan regularly as the wood heat is most intense on one side. However, this enameled cast iron beauty heats so evenly that I've considered testing it by making a meal without turning the pan.  So far,  I have only one spot of slight discoloration (from sitting directly in the fire, a sort of sooty mark) that I'm sure will scrub off the moment I have something other than cold rain water, soft cloths, and the barest amount of dish soap possible for dishwashing.



My 2.5 dutch oven in the woodstove


What I learned about enameled cast iron:

  • Durability - even inside of a woodstove, adjacent to flames
  • Cooks evenly
  • It is versatile - on the stove top, inside the oven (or woodstove)
  • Colors - so many pretty colors to choose from
  • Available in any size you need
  • Cleans up easily - unbelievably easily
  • Goes from oven to table


There are many brands of enameled cast iron to choose from:

  • Kitchen Aid
  • Lodge
  • VonShef
  • Le Creuset
  • Simply Calphalon
  • Staub




There are also a variety of shapes and sizes to choose from. I am sure you can find something to meet your kitchen needs.




12 comments:

  1. That is quite a recommendation! I would not have expected it to clean up so easily. I have seen the Martha Stewart collection in the store and thought how pretty it is, but truly being a reliable cooking pan is a lot more important than looks. I would definitely pay the higher price to get pretty, durable, easy to clean and evenly cooks. That is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mouse, I was so surprised that it clean up at all (after sticking it into the stove like that). I'm thrilled with them. I'm going to bake my little loaf of peasant bread in it... as soon as I get five minutes (here at the apartment). My goal is to be able to bake bread in the woodstove.

      Delete
  2. I saw these advertised and was curious as to how good they were. I do like using cast iron cookware, thanks for the review I think now that I'll have to try it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so very attached to my old cast iron. I truly thought I wouldn't like this little pan very much. But I really do love it. If you try it, you'll have to let me know if you like it too. I'm not very handy in the kitchen...so sometimes I'm nervous about giving kitchen recommendations. Unless it's the number to the local Pizza joint.

      Delete
  3. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love personal product reviews! Wow, this one is impressive. I've never had a piece like this, and I am in need of a smaller covered casserole dish (yours would be perfect), so this is definitely going on my wish list. Great review, Dawn Rae. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susan. I'm often cooking just for myself. And it's the perfect size for just me. Or when there are the two of us. Now I just need a slightly bigger one. The difficulty will be choosing the color!

      Delete
  4. I had a pretty orange cast-iron crock pot for approximately 40 years and loved the way it cooked and cleaned up. Stew was my favorite dish to cook in it. Loved this review, Dawn Rae. I'm a fan of cast iron cookware too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Elf. I am getting better at making good stews and soups. I wasn't very good not long ago, but I'm getting better at it.

      Delete
  5. This is exactly what I need. I've been wanting to make the switch to cast iron and Dutch ovens are my favorite style of cooking/baking dishes. Would love to get a wood-fired oven to go with the baking pan. Appreciate such a real-world review. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Diana! Cast iron is truly my favorite. Now it's really great to have the choice between the enameled and the regular. (I'd love for you to have a wood-fired over too. I can't wait to get better at cooking on mine).

      Delete
  6. I used to love cast iron, but now it's just too heavy for me with arthritic hands. Nothing cooks like cast iron.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry about your arthritis. As I get older, I do worry about the weight of cast iron. My skillet is extremely heavy and I have to hold it with both hands. But I love it so much...

      Delete