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Reasonably Priced Enameled Cast Iron Pots - Not Looking To Pay Le Creuset Prices


Pete
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This calls for some rationalizations.

Buy the Le Creuset. Hell, buy the biggest one you can find. Then tell yourself about all the cheap cuts of meat you'll be braising in delicious meals for yourself. Goodbye Porterhouse, hello pot roast!

It'll pay for itself, right? No? Okay, consider how well it holds heat-- your electricity or gas bills will plummet. Oh yeah, you can also get rid of that gym membership because you can use it as weights! Thinking of buying an expensive home security system? Forget it, you can devise a booby trap with this pot over your front door to disable any home invaders. Do your children need football or batting helmets? Not anymore! As a bonus, if they use it as a helmet, it will give them strong neck and shoulder muscles necessary for intensly studying textbooks, getting superlative grades, and racking up the scholarship dough!

All in all, a brand spankin new Le Creuset will save you thousands of dollars over the coming years.

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Amazon definitely has good deals on Le Creuset but you have to look a lot. Check out their Friday sales. They usually have Le Creuset and All-clad in there. And the outlet in Leesburg does have a lot of sales.

I definitely agree that Le Creuset is worth the money. I have one of the 5 Qt oval dutch ovens. You really don't need to buy any more then that. It can be used for everything!

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This is what I would buy if I had $349.99 lying around.  French oven, omelet pan, roaster, skillet.....sigh

We were given one of these sets - actually I think it had more stuff than this - by my aunt when we were married. But we had already gotten a set of Anolon so we returned the Le Creuset and bought crap like a bread maker and other miscellany.

Wish I had that one back.

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I was out at the Le Creuset store at the Leesburg Outlet Mall on Wednesday, and got a great deal on a dark blue enamel cast iron covered casserole--round, 12 inches in diameter and about 4" deep. I think it will be very, very useful. It was on sale for an extra 35% off. The regular retail price was $200 and I paid $85 for it--not a second, either. They have a "color of the month" on special discount, usually an extra 15 or 20% off. For some reason, during July, all the indigo blue cast iron is 35% off. I have an 8 quart Le Creuset pot that I got as a gift 30 years ago, and still use often--though more in the Fall/Winter for soups and braises. It is a very worthwhile investment, and you will live with it for many years, so get a color you like. Blue just happens to be my favorite.

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I was out at the Le Creuset store at the Leesburg Outlet Mall on Wednesday, and got a great deal on a dark blue enamel cast iron covered casserole--round, 12 inches in diameter and about 4" deep. I think it will be very, very useful. It was on sale for an extra 35% off. The regular retail price was $200 and I paid $85 for it--not a second, either. They have a "color of the month" on special discount, usually an extra 15 or 20% off. For some reason, during July, all the indigo blue cast iron is 35% off. I have an 8 quart Le Creuset pot that I got as a gift 30 years ago, and  still use often--though more in the Fall/Winter for soups and braises. It is a very worthwhile investment, and you will live with it for many years, so get a color you like. Blue just happens to be my favorite.

I picked up my first Le Creuset that way and then started kicking myself for not buying more while it was on such deep discount. Then, magically, they sent me coupons for more.

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I picked up my first Le Creuset that way and then started kicking myself for not buying more while it was on such deep discount. Then, magically, they sent me coupons for more.

Last Christmas they were handing out coupons in the store for 35% off your whole purchase. I got a 7 1/2 qt bouillabaisse pot for about $100. Also kicking myself for not getting a couple of other pieces.

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Thanks for all of the great ideas. I went yesterday to the Le Crueset store at the Leesburg Outlets and picked up the 9 quart round french oven for about $160 (currently $250 on Amazon.com). FYI, if you have a AAA card, you can get an extra 15% off every purchase over $75 in the Le Crueset store (its pretty hard to spend less than $75 there :P ).

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There is another brand I've seen them at Marshall's in Tysons, for about $40 if I recall correctly. Although Le Crueset is the gold standard, I can't justify the price differential. Frankly, I'd go with unenameled cast iron Lodge for a fraction of the price. I'd like to know what tastes better cooked in a Le Crueset that can't be cooked in a Lodge.

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There is another brand I've seen them at Marshall's in Tysons, for about $40 if I recall correctly.  Although Le Crueset is the gold standard, I can't justify the price differential.  Frankly, I'd go with unenameled cast iron Lodge for a fraction of the price.  I'd like to know what tastes better cooked in a Le Crueset that can't be cooked in a Lodge.

I think the purpose of the enameling is to permit cooking of acidic based ingredients, such as tomatos. As I understand it, the acid in certain ingredients will interact with the metal in unenameled pots and affect the flavor.

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I think the purpose of the enameling is to permit cooking of acidic based ingredients, such as tomatos.  As I understand it, the acid in certain ingredients will interact with the metal in unenameled pots and affect the flavor.

... and color, however keeping the iron seasoned with oil helps reduce its reactive properties - but not eliminate them entirely. It's a toss up at 20% of the price.

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I would think that current technology allows for the manufacture of decent quality cast iron pots.  If they feel as 'heavy' as the le cruset I would say buy one.

They did have pretty good heft, so I'll probably get one. I just tend to be wary of the 'chef line' stuff.

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Wow. It looks like the weakness of the $ has really caused inflation in the price of Le Creuset. I got a 8 3/4 quarter Dutch oven about 3 years ago and I think I only paid about $125 for it. Now it looks like they are about 2X that. While Le Creuset is nice stuff, it is not that nice. It's smart to look at the alternatives of which there seems to be a plethora of right now.

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Also, the "heft" issue is a rather serious one for older folks. That's why I was able to buy a Le Creuset dutch oven in immaculate condition for $10 at a yard sale. When filled with food, it is difficult to lift out of a hot oven, especially for those without a lot of upper-body strength.

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I would think that current technology allows for the manufacture of decent quality cast iron pots.  If they feel as 'heavy' as the le cruset I would say buy one.

Many years ago, I got a "flame-colored" Descoware dutch oven, which was a then-popular, less expensive enameled cast iron alternative to Le Creuset. Within five years, the enamel inside had started to chip. I have had a Le Creuset pot that I have used regularly since 1975, without a chip in it. That's right: thirty years! The Descoware, which is still made, was plenty heavy, too.

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Many years ago, I got a "flame-colored" Descoware dutch oven...

... Within five years, the enamel inside had started to chip.

This would be what I would most worry about with the lower end ones. Cast iron is cheap and it wouldn't cost these companies much to have the same amount of that as Le Creuset. (Go to your hardware store and marvel at the cheapness of that hunk of Lodge) Good enamel and its good application is what you really pay for with the LC.

I haven't had any of mine as long as Zora has had hers, but I've put them through a fair amount of abuse with no chips yet (knock on wood).

Edited by JPW
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Many years ago, I got a "flame-colored" Descoware dutch oven, which was a then-popular, less expensive enameled cast iron alternative to Le Creuset. Within five years, the enamel inside had started to chip. I have had a Le Creuset pot that I have used regularly since 1975, without a chip in it. That's right: thirty years! The Descoware, which is still made, was plenty heavy, too.

While I have no experience with other brands of enamled cast iron, I can attest that I have a 5-quart Le Creuset that I have had for over 20 years that shows amost no sign of wear. Perhaps a little dulling of the enamel on the interior and some baked on crud on the outside that I refuse to use harsh cleaners to try to remove, other than that, cosmetically, it looks in very good shape. Perhaps they are worth the extra money. I expect that my children will inherit them.

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I expect that my children will inherit them.

I inherited several pieces of le Creuset - '60's era orange flame type. Just last week the knob on the dutch oven went ka-POW! in the oven, scaring the bejeezus out of the cat which was napping closeby. One brief call to the toll-free number and a replacement is on its way, no charge, no questions asked. No, not a new cat, thank you very much. He is just fine.
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I've decided to treat myself to a New Year's gift of a big ass round cast iron oven. My question is how big is big enough? I initially thought 7 or 8 qts but now I'm thinking bigger. I'd like to be able to make a hefty pot of soup and fit in some large cuts of meat. Guess I'd also like to be able to lift it though, too. Would 9 or 13 qts be absurd? (I'm prepared for the sticker shock...)

Thanks for any advice...

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I've decided to treat myself to a New Year's gift of a big ass round cast iron oven. My question is how big is big enough? I initially thought 7 or 8 qts but now I'm thinking bigger. I'd like to be able to make a hefty pot of soup and fit in some large cuts of meat. Guess I'd also like to be able to lift it though, too. Would 9 or 13 qts be absurd? (I'm prepared for the sticker shock...)

Thanks for any advice...

A 9 at would not be absurd! It is great for larger pieces of meat and a big batch of short ribs.

I have a Le Creuset that I found at a TJMaxx for $150 (sticker $250 at William-Sonoma).

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I've decided to treat myself to a New Year's gift of a big ass round cast iron oven. My question is how big is big enough? I initially thought 7 or 8 qts but now I'm thinking bigger. I'd like to be able to make a hefty pot of soup and fit in some large cuts of meat. Guess I'd also like to be able to lift it though, too. Would 9 or 13 qts be absurd? (I'm prepared for the sticker shock...)

Thanks for any advice...

IMO 7 to 8 quarts is plenty. I've got a 7.25 quart Le Creuset and have never thought I needed more. Just this past weekend, I made osso buco for six with a half-dozen shanks and they fit in the pan just fine. And you're right -- 13 quarts must weigh a ton (and, depending on your stovetop/oven, could be difficult to center on a burner comfortably and/or fit into the oven without being on the very bottom rack).

Edited by David M.
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I've decided to treat myself to a New Year's gift of a big ass round cast iron oven. My question is how big is big enough? I initially thought 7 or 8 qts but now I'm thinking bigger. I'd like to be able to make a hefty pot of soup and fit in some large cuts of meat. Guess I'd also like to be able to lift it though, too. Would 9 or 13 qts be absurd? (I'm prepared for the sticker shock...)

Thanks for any advice...

You are right to consider the weight of the pot when it's full. I have a round LC dutch oven, not the biggest size but big enough, and it is REALLY heavy when it's empty. I bought it from a little old lady who just couldn't handle it anymore. I figured I had maybe 15 years left to muscle that sucker.
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I have a Le Creuset that I found at a TJMaxx for $150 (sticker $250 at William-Sonoma).

I second TJ Maxx -- both it and Marshall's can result in great deals. The only problem that I have encountered is selection is pretty hit-or-miss; my best luck has been at the Marshall's in Potomac Mills.

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Do yourself a favor and go out to the Le Creuset outlet store in the Leesburg Outlet Mall. The prices there are as good and often much better than at Marshall's or TJ Maxx and the selection is FAR superior. I just got myself a big oval pot at 35% below the outlet's usual price. For a major purchase like this, it's worth the trip.

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Do yourself a favor and go out to the Le Creuset outlet store in the Leesburg Outlet Mall. The prices there are as good and often much better than at Marshall's or TJ Maxx and the selection is FAR superior. I just got myself a big oval pot at 35% below the outlet's usual price. For a major purchase like this, it's worth the trip.

How long is that 35% off sale going on?

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How long is that 35% off sale going on?

Maybe permanently.

This summer when I stopped by an LC outlet in NC, they had a bowl with XXX% off tickets for customers to try their luck at -- a kind of raffle. We went through the bowl until they found the one marked 35% off. They proceeded to make the fold they used to mark that one more noticable. :)

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Do yourself a favor and go out to the Le Creuset outlet store in the Leesburg Outlet Mall. The prices there are as good and often much better than at Marshall's or TJ Maxx and the selection is FAR superior. I just got myself a big oval pot at 35% below the outlet's usual price. For a major purchase like this, it's worth the trip.

If you are a AAA member, stop by the customer service desk at Leesburg Outlets and get a disount booklet which includes a 15% discount off all items (including sale items) at the Le Creuset Outlet.

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If you are a AAA member, stop by the customer service desk at Leesburg Outlets and get a disount booklet which includes a 15% discount off all items (including sale items) at the Le Creuset Outlet.

Wow! I will be going there soon!

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Cutleryandmore.com has a great selection of Le Creuset. A 6.75 qt. oven costs $200.

I just paid significantly less than the above price for that size oval pot. When the outlet store has sales, the price cannot be beat. I also picked up a small, covered cast iron casserole list price $140 for $35, on a 50% off table--the typical outlet store price is 1/2 of list price, and they were clearing stuff out at 50% off their store price. If you get on their mailing list, they send you notices about sales, like when they give 35% off anything in the store.

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I just paid significantly less than the above price for that size oval pot. When the outlet store has sales, the price cannot be beat. I also picked up a small, covered cast iron casserole list price $140 for $35, on a 50% off table--the typical outlet store price is 1/2 of list price, and they were clearing stuff out at 50% off their store price. If you get on their mailing list, they send you notices about sales, like when they give 35% off anything in the store.

Thanks for these great tips. I didn't want to imply the prices at cutleryandmore were anything special, but their selection is exhaustive.

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Le Creuset? That's a damn good price.Red wine, bay leaf, black peppercorns, juniper berries, salt, and sliced onion for the marinade. It's worth finding the juniper berries. Bring to a boil, let cool, then marinate beef 2-3 days turning occasionally. Be sure to use gingersnaps for the sauce - homemade are better but store bought will do. Homemade spaetzle is a nice touch.
I'd appreciate some help here. I see the Le Creuset 7.25qt french oven for $179 on Amazon. I also see the "Mario Batali" 6 qt dutch oven for $99 at Crate and Barrell.

Can someone help me understand the quality/functional difference between the two? The Le Creuset is considered oven safe to 450F while the Batali is advertised as oven safe to 500F. The Le Creuset has a plastic knob where as the Batali has a stainless steel knob. They're both made of enameled cast iron. If it wasn't for my inherent distrust of anything with a celebrity chef's name attached to it, I'd think the Batali was a hands down winner. Is an extra 1.25 quarts worth another $75 or so? Does size really matter...that much?

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It depends on what you're using it for.

Sorry, I couldn't resist that. Bigger pot roasts need a bigger pot. Plus, having some surface area helps if you need to reduce your sauce.

So then here's the really interesting part. The Batali has a 13" diameter whereas the Creuset has only an 11" diameter. Considering the Batali holds less, one can only assume that it's not as high as the Creuset. So you can fit a longer roast and reduce sauces better in the Batali, but may not be able to put the lid on it.

Notice how I tactfully refrained from making this a girth vs length comparison.

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