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How 'perfect' should an enameled dutch oven be?

Posted by leaveswave (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 7, 08 at 17:57

I'm stuck between being wanting a good-enough product I can actually get home and use and being too particular. Help me out! I've been to 3 Target stores for the Tramontina. There's only been one out at each place. One had scratchy-scuffs on the top of the cover. Two had imperfections to the enamel coating on the inside. At what point does an imperfection concern you (enamel peeling/chipping off, other??)...

If the cover rocks a little when I push on one edge, is it still air-/water-tight enough to cook "right"?

If there's a tiny little snaggy bump inside in the enamel, would you pass it by?

Thanks! You guys have been a source of great collective wisdom!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How 'perfect' should an enameled dutch oven be?

IMHO the only disqualifying defect is one that could come in contact with the food.

I recently bought a Le Creuset 'second' at TJMaxx. It had a defect in the enamel on the outside of the lid--cosmetic defect only. Works just fine, though; last night I used it to make a wonderful boeuf a la ficelle, a poached beef tenderloin. Tasted great. I got this pot at about 60% off of list. For those $$$ I'll tolerate some cosmetic problems.

And if you are wondering about the snugness of the lid fit, here's a trick I learned from Molly Stevens' wonderful book 'All About Braising': Cut a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper somewhat larger than the opening of the pot. Push the center of the foil down a little so it slopes a little to the middle of the pot; condensation will form on the foil and run downwards and drip back on the food. Place the lid on the foil. This effectively improves the seal between the lid and the pot. Works great.

RE: How 'perfect' should an enameled dutch oven be? lists stuff. This is only important if you like product reviews--amazon has a lot more than Target! I'm only mentioning this because I think they had some bad reviews for that product. But I'm not sure. For cooking, it doesn't matter much, but if you want it to look good (and why wouldn't you?) remember if it gets dinged up in the store, even one that starts off looking good will get dinged up at home! I have a 40 year old enameled Dutch oven that is still almost perfect, and it's seen some pretty hard use, so I'd worry about something that gets scratched before you even get it home. A manufacturing cosmetic defect in an otherwise good pan is one thing, but wear and tear before use just sort of indicates it's only gonna get worse with use.

I'd try to at least start with one with a good-fitting lid.

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