If I cook stew in my oven will it come out better using a heavy enameled dutch oven than a stainless steel covered pot?

  • How heavy-duty is your pot? It's paywalled but America's Test Kitchen's top rated Dutch Oven is actually a heavy-duty stainless steel stockpot made by All Clad... but it's pretty much the only stainless steel pot that got good ratings. The rest are all traditional cast iron... and their test actually included doing just this (baking stew in the oven). – Catija Mar 7 '15 at 6:37
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    @Catija Specifically, they liked this one: All-Clad Stainless 8-Quart Stockpot. For only $100 more than my Sous-Vide Circulator – Jolenealaska Mar 7 '15 at 8:56

Conventional wisdom says use the dutch oven. Why? Because dutch ovens are heavy and have a lot of thermal mass. Higher thermal mass tends to even out the temperature experienced by the food inside of the cooking vessel. All ovens oscillate above and below the set temperature. That means an oven set to 250 may oscillate between 225 and 275 to maintain an average of 250.

That said, when cooking wet foods in the oven the quality of the cooking vessel really doesn't seem to matter. A less conductive material may take longer to cook the food, but from a scorching or food quality standpoint I think you will find there is no appreciable difference.

If we were talking cooking bread in a pre-heated dutch oven vs a pre-heated flimsy steel pot, there would be a big difference.

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