Pros: Very even heating; cleans remarkably easily; nifty-looking
Cons: Very heavy; shouldn’t go in the dishwasher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
First published 4/21/2005
Review item courtesy of Lodge Manufacturing
Cast iron cookware is loved by many for its particular thermal properties. Its heavy material conducts heat very evenly, and browns food particularly well. However, not everyone is thrilled by the need to “season” cast iron. Lodge attempts to solve this particular problem by producing a line of enamel-coated cookware. One such piece is the three-quart apple-shaped pot/Dutch oven.
This pot can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. The one I have is coated in a particularly glossy red (it’s really quite impressive), and I have to admit that the apple shape–complete with leaf-shaped stainless steel handle–is quite nifty.
The enamel line is still quite heavy. I have tendonitis, and there’s no way I could put a full pot into the oven–I need someone else to move the full pot for me. However, the thermal properties are in fact quite wonderful. It’s a bit like using a slow-cooker, except without the slow-cooker. You probably wouldn’t want to use this pot for a soup that’s best right away, with fresh, contrasting flavors. But it’s absolutely perfect for the type of soup that’s best after it’s had a chance to simmer away for a while, allowing the flavors to blend. Similarly, it’s wonderful for bean dishes. I found that it takes a while to heat up, but once it gets going it does a fantastic job of slow-cooking something to perfection.
A bean dish that we made in this pot gave us the perfect opportunity to test out how easy it was to clean. The care instructions recommend hand-washing due to the harshness of dishwasher cleansers. After two hours in the oven, the underside of the lid was quite splattered with dried-on juices and the pot itself had the usual cooked-on ring where the food had reduced down. I expected this to be difficult to clean, but it wiped right off.
It’s recommended that if you use this on the stovetop you use it on low to medium. Plan for a long start-up time if you need a soup to come to a simmer, but once it gets going a low heat setting works wonderfully. The cast iron does a remarkable job of distributing the heat evenly. In the oven this piece can be used at pretty much any temperature under 500 degrees F.
In short, if you don’t mind the weight of the pot and want something you can slow-cook a soup, bean dish, stew, or something similar in, Lodge’s enamel-coated line is a great choice. It’s easy to clean and even-heating. It even does a wonderful job of keeping a soup warm on the stove once you’ve turned off the heat so you can go back for seconds!