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Enameled Cast Aluminum?

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Tom NJ

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Enameled Cast Aluminum?

by Tom NJ » Mon Jan 13, 2014 5:56 pm

I was in WalMart today and saw they're selling Nordic Ware enameled cast aluminum dutch ovens. It's funny how the mind works; they look just like cast iron, so I lifted the display model with the same amount of "oomph" I would my Le Creuset. I almost slammed it into my forehead before I could stop my arm. I swear to god, it weighs less than the cardboard box it comes in.

I have some older friends and relatives who've either given away their old enameled cast iron or refuse to buy any in the first place because of the sheer weight. Personally, I think this is a fantastic option for peole like them or anyone else who blanches at blanching in something that weighs as much as their stove. My only question is...is it any good?

I've used Nordic Ware pans - along with Lincoln Wear-Ever and Vollrath they're all I cooked with for years in restaurants - so I know the brand. But how do you think aluminum will handle prolonged low heat operations (other than heating and cooling more quickly)?

I also wonder about the non-stick interior. It's not enameled, just the usual non-stick black coating that you see everywhere. I'd worry that even if you were careful not to scratch it you'd still find it worn down after a few years of regular use like all the others. And although it's worlds cheaper than the LC at 60 dollars, it's 15 dollars more than the enameled cast iron Tramontina (includes bonus trivet!) which will last decades or longer. (Side note: those Tramontinas are AWESOME quality for the price. Much sharper than the Lodges I saw, or Martha Stewart's signature series. I purchased one as a gift for someone a few years ago and they've let me use it a few times since, and I tell ya...if I was just starting out again I'd fill my shelves with them instead of LC's, and buy a car with the money I saved. And not a compact, either.)

Anybody have any experience with these things, with an opinion of how they cook and how durable they are? I'm really tempted to get one for my mother-in-law who has had to cut out a lot of the heavier cooking operations she used to do because of physical limitations. This could be a real blessing. But I know her: she uses metal utensils no matter what. I wouldn't want to give her something that ups her Teflon consumption by 30 grams/meal!
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Enameled Cast Aluminum?

by Paul Winalski » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:31 pm

Aluminum conducts heat better than iron, so the potential for better heat distribution (lack of hot spots) is there. For the same reason, aluminum also cools down faster than cast iron, which might be a disadvantage for some applications.

I think it would have been a boon to folks like my mother, who suffers from bad arthritis in her hands and can't handle heavy cookware.

-Paul W.

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