Over here in the US we have huge factory stores. Coach for purses and totes. Michael Kors with designer clothing. Nike for athletic wear and shoes. Le Creuset for the ultimate in cook ware. Not just any cookware either. French enamel clad cast iron with not one single dutch oven priced UNDER $200.
I picked up a 5 quart dutch oven made by Lodge Cast Iron while we were traveling through Tennessee earlier this month.
I was not so very thrilled to learn that this addition to my cooking arsenal is from China :-(.
With the proliferation of television cooking shows and a rise in consumer demand, Lodge broadened its variety of cookware by importing vibrant Porcelain Enameled Cast Iron from China. After several years of searching for the right partner foundry, Lodge introduced the elegant L-Series in 2005, and has since expanded its assortment, earning positive reviews from Good Housekeeping and Fine Cooking magazines, test kitchens, and our valued customers.
There are a few things to consider before you fork over the money to purchase an enamel clad cast iron pot, pan, or dutch oven.
- The enamel coating on the inside and outside of the vessel is GLASS enamel.
- The enamel will chip and crack if handled roughly.
- DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, preheat this cooking pot or pan with nothing in it. DO NOT allow water to boil dry in this pot or pan. The enamel will crack and chunks will break off. There is no repair, that I have found, for broken or chipped enamel. Once chipped you will have to make sure the cast iron is SEASONED within the crack or chip if it has gone all the way through.
- The enamel will stain while cooking some foods such as black beans and some tomato preparations.
- Cleaning the stained enamel will require using baking soda and water mixed into a paste and quite a lengthy spate of time using elbow grease. You can also fill the vessel with hot water and add household bleach then let it set until the water cools, then wash well with soap and water.
- The cooking heat is not insulated by the enamel while you are cooking. You will burn your fingers off if you grab the handles during cooking.
- These pots and pans are HEAVY! Because they are made from cast iron then coated with the enamel they weigh quite a lot.
- When not in use the cooking vessel needs to have air circulating. Keep the “Bumpers” it came with.
When you first take your dutch oven out of the box you will find some silicone “bumpers” (for lack of a better word) that are placed along the rim of the pot.
These “bumpers” protect the outer rim of the dutch oven while the lid is stored on top. These bumpers are easily removed. Just grip one with your fingers and pull straight up.
Do not throw these bumpers away. Once you have finished cooking, washed your dutch oven and dried it, you will put these bumpers back on the rim of the pot before placing the lid on for storage. These bumpers protect the edges of the pot from chipping.
Before you begin cooking with your new pot make sure to give it a really good wash in quite warm water using dish soap.
I made spaghetti sauce in this pan and I was totally delighted with the results. Better than any sauce I’ve made with my other pots and pans. Really flavorful. I do use a store bought sauce. The one I like the best is Bertolli. I prefer Bertolli over Ragu and Prego, even Hunts brands of spaghetti sauces.
Joe and I prefer to have chunky spaghetti sauce. Most people would think this is obscene and the sauce is no longer a spaghetti sauce but we like it. If you find you don’t have enough ground meat for your sauce adding chopped vegetables stretches your food dollar. Plus you get the benefit of eating your veggies 😀
One medium onion, two ribs of celery, two carrots, and about 12 button mushrooms.
A drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of the pan, turn the heat on medium. I have an electric range with heat numbers of 1 through 10. I started the heat at 5 to cook these vegetables in the oil. After about 15 minutes of cooking on Level 5 I reduced the heat to Level 3 and cooked the vegetables for another 15 minutes.
The good thing about cooking with cast iron is it retains the heat. One of the bad things about cooking with cast iron is the whole entire pot is HOT! Sides, bottom, and handles are HOT!.
Joe and I saw this little gadget while in the Lodge Factory Store and we had quite a conversation over what exactly it was for. The top green parts are silicone. The little pads on the silver part are silicone. The two green tops squeeze together like a binder clip. Oh, now I think I know what it is…..
When the vegetables are nearly done add your ground beef and cook until well done. Or you can cook the ground beef in a separate skillet then drain the grease. Something I should have done because this fancy pot is HEAVY and quite cumbersome to hold the lid on while tilting the “hot mess” over the sink to allow the grease to drain into an empty tin can. Did I mention that cast iron cookware is HEAVY?
Once the grease is drained well add the spaghetti sauce and stir well to incorporate. Allow the sauce to simmer in the pot, COVERED, for about 20 minutes. You might find a hungry person slinking around your cooking and going in for a sniff 😀
When you are satisfied the sauce has cooked long enough and your noodles are done, ladle up the goodness and “Mangia”. Mangia = eat
When the pot cools down enough then store the remaining sauce (if there is any left) in a freezer bag to save for a night when you don’t have time to make fresh. Maybe the next time you use this sauce you will decide to have lasagne. Poof! Magic! Sauce is already prepared, all you have to do is thaw it and cook the noodles 😀