This Under-$200 Dutch Oven Has Become The MVP In My Kitchen

I'll tell you off the bat that I'm not much of a cook — but a Dutch oven is one of those kitchen staples that I knew I'd have to eventually acquire one day. They have impressive versatility, they're sized to feed any kind of dinner party, and they're made to last a lifetime with good care. They can effortlessly cook up a variety of meals from chunky vegetarian chili to vats of pasta to even a whole chicken (I don't eat meat but even I can appreciate a do-it-all kitchen gadget). In short, I aspired to get a Dutch oven one day. So when an opportunity arose to test the Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven from Made In, I came in hot.
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I'm very aware that there are tons of cookware brands out there that make Dutch ovens — and we on the Shopping team have tested and reviewed a couple of them — but what especially piqued my attention about Made In's version of this cooking vessel was its style and price point. Both aspects were quite pleasing to me. Allow me to elaborate.
This all boils down to personal preference, of course, but I personally found Made In to be situated perfectly in between the legacy brands (which sell Dutch ovens I simply cannot afford) and of-the-moment DTC brands (which sell Dutch ovens that have a certain trendy Millennial-leaning color palette or finishes that aren't really my style). What I especially love about Made In's $199 Dutch oven — which I secured in this beautiful creamy hue called Linen — is its timeless silhouette and enamel finish that looks like decor atop my stove. Aesthetically, it checks out why these Dutch ovens look particularly classic: They're manufactured by generations-spanning, family-owned craftspeople based in Northeast France using high-end raw materials. And, if you need further convincing of its stellar quality, a Made In rep confirms that its kitchenware is used by Michelin-starred restaurants (Chicago’s Alinea and NYC’s Le Bernardin, as two examples) and various hotel groups across the country. Flip over what the brand dubs the Cloud Cover Lid and you'll see uniform dimples designed to "trap steam and self-baste your stews."
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The dish I made to christen my Dutch Oven was spaghetti slicked with Rao's tomato sauce, which is neither the most inventive nor even worthy of the Dutch oven as I was feeding only myself, but the experience was still thrilling. This Dutch oven is designed with heat retention in mind, so I kept a close eye on the noodles — the upside to this quick-to-heat pot was that my meal was ready to eat within eight minutes. While I haven't baked anything in it yet, it can also withstand up to 580 degrees in the oven (which, apparently, is 80 degrees higher than what Le Creuset can handle), although I'm not sure if I'll ever need to cook anything at that extreme temperature. Good to know, though, I guess.
Mama mia, look at my meal!
The last thing I'll touch upon is the clean-up, which was spectacularly easy, even when I used a relatively abrasive Scrub Daddy sponge. It did not damage or cause any friction with the smooth-finish enamel, which I learned was sprayed by hand to prevent rusting. You also don't need to further season or oil it up to preserve this pot. The only real downside is that the Dutch oven was definitely cumbersome and overwhelming in my NYC apartment kitchen sink, which can only handle so many dishes at one time, but c'est la vie, baby. It's a minor inconvenience and it's nothing that some strategic maneuvering couldn't handle.
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Now, the real challenge I face is how to best store this product. Do I keep it tucked away in a cabinet to save it from grease and oil splatters? Or do I let it live on my stovetop like a decorative piece of art to signify that I'm capable of cooking sophisticated meals? This is quite the conundrum but I suppose this Dutch oven is too pretty to hide away.
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