Best Cheap Oval Cocotte?

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DitmasPork

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I'm looking for an inexpensive oval cocotte (enamel/cast iron), 5–7 qt—don't wanna go the Staub or Le Creuset direction.

Curious on what my options are. So far I've found a Tramontina for around $60; and the Martha Stewart for $100. Any other suggestions appreciated.
 

ptolemy

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The problem here is... the enamel. If you believe most of it is similar/same, then any of those will work with large handles... People go for other 2 brands if they firmly believe that their enamel is superior and having a brand name would make a difference when served at the table...
 

AT5760

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Have you thought about Lodge? I like both their raw cast iron and carbon steel products.

I haven’t tried Tramontina’s cast iron, but generally I feel their products are very good for the price.
 

Jovidah

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The problem here is... the enamel. If you believe most of it is similar/same, then any of those will work with large handles... People go for other 2 brands if they firmly believe that their enamel is superior and having a brand name would make a difference when served at the table...
I don't think the difference in enamel quality is entirely in people's heads. I cheaped out on some enamelled cast iron too, and all of them ended up slowly getting chips in just a few years (when I never had a single chip in my better stuff).
The problem is figuring it which brands are decent, and which ones aren't... but I'm done playing the lottery on Made in China enamel cookware.
 
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I'm looking for an inexpensive oval cocotte (enamel/cast iron), 5–7 qt—don't wanna go the Staub or Le Creuset direction.

Curious on what my options are. So far I've found a Tramontina for around $60; and the Martha Stewart for $100. Any other suggestions appreciated.
I would have said Staub (Heavy sigh). They can be reasonably priced in that size when on sale at places like Cutlery and More.

Just a shared thought, I was at a kitchen supply store in a very trendy tourist town a few months ago and the proprietor told me that she quit carrying Staub and Le Creuset because she was selling Lodge at a rate of 10:1 or better. It’s what everyone asked for. I don’t have one, but thought I’d just pass along someone else’s professional opinion based on her sales statistics.
 

ptolemy

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I don't think the difference in enamel quality is entirely in people's heads. I cheaped out on some enamelled cast iron too, and all of them ended up slowly getting chips in just a few years (when I never had a single chip in my better stuff).
The problem is figuring it which brands are decent, and which ones aren't... but I'm done playing the lottery on Made in China enamel cookware.

that's my point though... if you think there is, the obv if you buy those 2 brands, it's a lifetime investment.... if you don't then, spending 1/5th of the cost for 2-4 years, might be a way to go. I don't think I can convince anyone either way, but that's also because I owned both high end and cheap enamel, and it's just not for me...
 
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that's my point though... if you think there is, the obv if you buy those 2 brands, it's a lifetime investment.... if you don't then, spending 1/5th of the cost for 2-4 years, might be a way to go. I don't think I can convince anyone either way, but that's also because I owned both high end and cheap enamel, and it's just not for me...
My wife bought one at Aldi one time and I don’t think it even lasted a year.
 

McMan

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Gift or for you?
If for you, why not eBay? You could probably score a beaut with light use. There's often very good light-use (presumably estate) enameled cast iron; some of the less collectible brands can be had at reasonable prices with a little patience: Cousances, Descoware, Copco, etc.. The Cousances doufeu are nice design, with the indented top on the lid for ice.
I'd rather put my trust in a good MCM piece than new stuff--and it'd probably be roughly the same in terms of price.

I actually had a Martha Stewart dutch oven 15 years ago. It was a good pot and took a beating. Lasted 4-5 years. It was prone to chips at the lip since new, and then after a few years the enamel began to lose gloss and get porous. Then it was also recalled--become pots' enamel would shatter with temp change (!).
 

DitmasPork

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Gift or for you?
If for you, why not eBay? You could probably score a beaut with light use. There's often very good light-use (presumably estate) enameled cast iron; some of the less collectible brands can be had at reasonable prices with a little patience: Cousances, Descoware, Copco, etc.. The Cousances doufeu are nice design, with the indented top on the lid for ice.
I'd rather put my trust in a good MCM piece than new stuff--and it'd probably be roughly the same in terms of price.

I actually had a Martha Stewart dutch oven 15 years ago. It was a good pot and took a beating. Lasted 4-5 years. It was prone to chips at the lip since new, and then after a few years the enamel began to lose gloss and get porous. Then it was also recalled--become pots' enamel would shatter with temp change (!).
It’s for me, not a gift, would be put to fairly regular (weekly) use in my home kitchen. I’ve been considering the cheap route, but putting on the breaks after reading other comments on this thread. TBH, I never thought about enamel quality—the only enameled pot we have is my wife’s Le Creuset, it’s about 20 years old.
 

DitmasPork

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Have you thought about Lodge? I like both their raw cast iron and carbon steel products.

I haven’t tried Tramontina’s cast iron, but generally I feel their products are very good for the price.
Cheers. Yeah, thought about Lodge, but prefer not a raw cast iron.
 

Jovidah

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FWIW over the last decade Le Creuset's prices have gone through the roof, while Staub has stayed somewhat stable, so as a result they tend to be significantly cheaper now. They also show up for sale around the typical 'shopping holidays' like Black Friday and Amazon Prime days if you're willing to wait for a good deal.
 
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They sell enameled as well: Enameled Oval Dutch Oven | Lodge Cast Iron

I forgot to mention in my initial reply that I have a Lodge enameled cast iron skillet as well. No damage to the cooking surface on 10 years of use. The handle has a couple of chips from bumps. Overall, a good value.
It’s good to hear from someone who has one and uses it. After the cheap ones we went straight to Staub. I just checked prices on Staub and even the sale prices are significantly higher than when I last bought one. Perhaps Lodge has the price:quality ratio dialed in better than everyone else.
 

JASinIL2006

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They sell enameled as well: Enameled Oval Dutch Oven | Lodge Cast Iron

I forgot to mention in my initial reply that I have a Lodge enameled cast iron skillet as well. No damage to the cooking surface on 10 years of use. The handle has a couple of chips from bumps. Overall, a good value.

We have a large Lodge enameled Dutch oven, too, and it is holding up quite well, in contrast to the Aldi model that is chipping.
 

boomchakabowwow

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i have an oval Staub. its okay. solid. the shape is not warming to me. i use it like i would a dutch oven. i have YET to cook a chicken in it. i got it on sale at a cooking boutique store on the precipice of closing, and got a killer deal. i swapped the chicken lid-knob with my LC stock pot, so it would be easier to fit in an oven. my stock pot looks ridiculous now. haha. anyways. i am shocked how much more work it is to dump the contents from an oval pot. the best spot is where a handle is located. going from the sides, the pour gets wide. i usually have to get my wife to help guide food with a spoon.

i should really cook a chicken in it. soon. i want a round one badly.
 

boomchakabowwow

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oh..having said that. my brother has the Martha steward version. he is a neanderthal in the kitchen and his is chip free. my wife bought him the pot for the holidays maybe 10 years ago. 8 years, maybe.

to be fair. my original LC dutch oven eventually chipped badly. it put shards into a stew i was feeding the neighborhood elderly folks. i got rid of the pot because i didnt want to hurt one of my neighbors. that pot lasted 20 years maybe. it looked awful, but it didnt chip for the longest time. but when it did, the chips were huge. i believe the pot is now a giant food bowl for a friends pet Mastiff. :)
 

Jovidah

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Yeah honestly, why oval? It's not a shape that works well on most stoves... I guess if you're really hardcore about making whole bird dishes like coq au vin it's something to consider but even then I think I'd lean towards just getting a larger round one.
 
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Yeah honestly, why oval? It's not a shape that works well on most stoves... I guess if you're really hardcore about making whole bird dishes like coq au vin it's something to consider but even then I think I'd lean towards just getting a larger round one.
We use our oval for things like pork loin roast. The oval really is a pain if trying to pour anything out of it. I like browning the roast on all sides on the cooktop before putting it in the oven, the shape has never been a problem for that.
 

DitmasPork

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i have an oval Staub. its okay. solid. the shape is not warming to me. i use it like i would a dutch oven. i have YET to cook a chicken in it. i got it on sale at a cooking boutique store on the precipice of closing, and got a killer deal. i swapped the chicken lid-knob with my LC stock pot, so it would be easier to fit in an oven. my stock pot looks ridiculous now. haha. anyways. i am shocked how much more work it is to dump the contents from an oval pot. the best spot is where a handle is located. going from the sides, the pour gets wide. i usually have to get my wife to help guide food with a spoon.

i should really cook a chicken in it. soon. i want a round one badly.
Good point about transferring contents—I was initially looking for an oval. Food for thought.
 

btbyrd

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I’ve had a Tramontina for like 18 years and like it as much as LC. It has held up really well. I don‘t know if the new ones are built the same, but I’d buy mine again.
 

DitmasPork

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Anyone have experience with either Made-In or Great Jones? Found them in my search but don't know anyone who has one. Both in the under-$200 zone—tad more than I'd like to spend, but open to up the budget a little.

 
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I have almost a dozen from running a restaurant kitchen for several years, plus ones I've added or tested since.

Between Staub and Le Creuset, the biggest issue people raise actually tends to be the color inside. Using both, I can say it's like good knives -- you can do more with a more technical product but you have to use it properly. The black interior does work meaningfully better and over thousands of days of use lasts a good bit better, but you have to look at your food underway and lift it up with a silicone spatula to see how it's doing. You really should do this with a white interior as well but it's just a learned skill. Once obtained, you'll like the result better.

On a couple different occasions we got some Lodge enameled ovens for some short term capacity needs. They all looked bad after a couple hundred hours of use -- edge chips inside and out and some large flakes coming loose in the inside corners. Hey, Lodge doesn't have much margin and they have to cut corners on the kiln process and on the quality of metal prep and the enamel itself. I've been told older ones were a bit better but none of them were great. Some of the cheaper ones aren't painted on the underside, so there's a rough edge that will chew up an induction cooktop if that's a concern to you.

More recently I've tried Misen and the Kana Milo and saw a prototype of the FireUp. The Kana Milo is quite a bit lighter and takes longer to heat up to where the heat is even across the oven, but the lighter weight may be a plus for you. Nice colors, very little supply. They have a 3.5 and 5.5 quart version priced around $110 and $140 or so. The Misen is quite heavy but so far has been quite sturdy. It has a plus that the bottom is broad with fairly sharp corners -- many dutch ovens are so curved on the sides it's almost like cooking in a wok and you don't have enough area to sear much at one time. We got the grill top with the Misen we have (it was the only version available) and do not recommend it -- you want to be able to pick up and replace the lid repeatedly and the grill top requires two hands to do so -- versus lifting with one hand and poking the contents with a spatula or spoon. The standard knob-version lid would be our recommendation. It was on a 20% sale, taking it down to $132 plus tax, shipping included, and very generous return privileges even if used (use for 60 days and can return it with free return shipping). On those terms, why not try it? It does have a white interior, but the enamel has been pretty sturdy so far. It's on the big side -- 7 quart.

My recommendation? Better to get just one and make it a good one. Stores recommend the 5 quart but chefs and more intensive users recommend 7 quart or so because it gives you more cooking room. Don't go way overboard or you just tend to burn your food, but 7 quart dutch ovens tend to be cheaper than 5 quart ones. A 7 quart Staub cocotte runs $299 or so right now. That would be my #1 recommendation. And get round, not oval, unless you already have round ones and want a specialty oven.
 

Jovidah

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We use our oval for things like pork loin roast. The oval really is a pain if trying to pour anything out of it. I like browning the roast on all sides on the cooktop before putting it in the oven, the shape has never been a problem for that.
I'm not a fan of tall pans for roasting; doesn't come out as well. Either I throw the frying pan in the oven or I transfer it to some oven tray; gives better results IMO.

I have almost a dozen from running a restaurant kitchen for several years, plus ones I've added or tested since.

Between Staub and Le Creuset, the biggest issue people raise actually tends to be the color inside. Using both, I can say it's like good knives -- you can do more with a more technical product but you have to use it properly. The black interior does work meaningfully better and over thousands of days of use lasts a good bit better, but you have to look at your food underway and lift it up with a silicone spatula to see how it's doing. You really should do this with a white interior as well but it's just a learned skill. Once obtained, you'll like the result better.

On a couple different occasions we got some Lodge enameled ovens for some short term capacity needs. They all looked bad after a couple hundred hours of use -- edge chips inside and out and some large flakes coming loose in the inside corners. Hey, Lodge doesn't have much margin and they have to cut corners on the kiln process and on the quality of metal prep and the enamel itself. I've been told older ones were a bit better but none of them were great. Some of the cheaper ones aren't painted on the underside, so there's a rough edge that will chew up an induction cooktop if that's a concern to you.

More recently I've tried Misen and the Kana Milo and saw a prototype of the FireUp. The Kana Milo is quite a bit lighter and takes longer to heat up to where the heat is even across the oven, but the lighter weight may be a plus for you. Nice colors, very little supply. They have a 3.5 and 5.5 quart version priced around $110 and $140 or so. The Misen is quite heavy but so far has been quite sturdy. It has a plus that the bottom is broad with fairly sharp corners -- many dutch ovens are so curved on the sides it's almost like cooking in a wok and you don't have enough area to sear much at one time. We got the grill top with the Misen we have (it was the only version available) and do not recommend it -- you want to be able to pick up and replace the lid repeatedly and the grill top requires two hands to do so -- versus lifting with one hand and poking the contents with a spatula or spoon. The standard knob-version lid would be our recommendation. It was on a 20% sale, taking it down to $132 plus tax, shipping included, and very generous return privileges even if used (use for 60 days and can return it with free return shipping). On those terms, why not try it? It does have a white interior, but the enamel has been pretty sturdy so far. It's on the big side -- 7 quart.

My recommendation? Better to get just one and make it a good one. Stores recommend the 5 quart but chefs and more intensive users recommend 7 quart or so because it gives you more cooking room. Don't go way overboard or you just tend to burn your food, but 7 quart dutch ovens tend to be cheaper than 5 quart ones. A 7 quart Staub cocotte runs $299 or so right now. That would be my #1 recommendation. And get round, not oval, unless you already have round ones and want a specialty oven.
Yeah I think a lot of people worry about the inside of the Staubs but after I got one I found the color to be a complete non-issue. No problem at all to see the color of your butter and things like that.

Another thing that came to mind. For smaller volumes its also worth considering a saucier instead. You'll retain more surface area for browning.

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If you can wait, Zwilling often has seconds sales on Staub. And Jovidah, I'd call that a saute pan? I have an older version with the honeycomb bottom, and we use it for everything, including sukiyaki.

I don't like the ovals for cocottes. Fill the remaining space with vegetables.

I have an oval Le Creuset, and all my other enameled cast iron is Staub (8 qt, 5.5 qt, 2 qt, sauté, all their oval roasters, grill pan...)
 

Jovidah

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I just used the name Staub used on their website. I honestly don't really know what to call it. :D
But yeah it's similar to a saute pan too, but it doesn't have the long handle. It's basically just a Dutch oven at half the height.
It's pretty versatile although admittedly it somewhat overlaps with normal saute and frying pans. But made more sense for me than buying a tiny cocotte that has no surface area for browning...
 

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I just used the name Staub used on their website. I honestly don't really know what to call it. :D
But yeah it's similar to a saute pan too, but it doesn't have the long handle. It's basically just a Dutch oven at half the height.
It's pretty versatile although admittedly it somewhat overlaps with normal saute and frying pans. But made more sense for me than buying a tiny cocotte that has no surface area for browning...

Braiser? I bought the Le Creuset 3.5L braiser,,, very nice. Great if you're cooking for a smaller family or a couple. I think the 4.7L version might be more practical for larger groups.
 

Jovidah

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Braiser? I bought the Le Creuset 3.5L braiser,,, very nice. Great if you're cooking for a smaller family or a couple. I think the 4.7L version might be more practical for larger groups.
Yeah that looks like the same kind of thing. I'm not sure the manufacturers agree yet on what to call it. :) It's just enamelled cast iron that's a bit wider and less tall in shape compared to the normal Dutch ovens. It might not be ideal for soups, but I quite like having the larger surface area.
Largely personal preference but I think it's one that's at least worthy of consideration.
 

DitmasPork

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Braiser? I bought the Le Creuset 3.5L braiser,,, very nice. Great if you're cooking for a smaller family or a couple. I think the 4.7L version might be more practical for larger groups.
Cool. Personally, I'm looking for something that's in the 5–7 qt ballpark. Yeah, Le Creuset (or Staub) would be great, but beyond my current budget, hence the theme of this thread. Lotta good thoughtsrecommendations here—biggest takeaway for me, was being aware of enamel quality, which I'd not even considered.
 

Bobby2shots

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FWIW over the last decade Le Creuset's prices have gone through the roof, while Staub has stayed somewhat stable, so as a result they tend to be significantly cheaper now. They also show up for sale around the typical 'shopping holidays' like Black Friday and Amazon Prime days if you're willing to wait for a good deal.

Amen to that; I got a heckuca deal on a year-end clearance from Staub. They had prices reduced by 40%,,,, but,,, after putting the items in my cart, I got a further 40% off that reduced price. To their credit, they honoured the price even though there was an obvious error on their website. I ended up buying 2 Staub cocottes. The next morning I was going to buy a couple more, but they had now "fixed" the error.

I've also got a few Le Creuset (braiser and large Dutch oven) plus I bought a Le Creuset "stainless" saucier with beautifully rounded bottom edges..
 
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