Lodge Enamel Cast Iron Casserole Dish Braiser, 3.6-Quart
Last updated date: August 4, 2020
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We looked at the top Braisers and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Braiser you should buy.
Update as September 14, 2021:
Checkout The Best Braiser for a detailed review of all the top braisers.
There isn't anything you can't do in this versatile braiser. In addition to braising, it's ideal for baking, roasting and broiling. The dish is constructed from a durable enamel cast iron, which is not only heat safe in temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but also able to evenly distribute heat.
In our analysis of 49 expert reviews, the Lodge Enamel Cast Iron Braiser, 3.6-Quart placed 1st when we looked at the top 11 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
From The Manufacturer
A flawless pairing of form and function, the Lodge Enameled Casserole is a classic way to both prepare and serve memorable meals. The 3.6 quart capacity and low, wide shape is perfect for baked favorites, roasted meats, or even paella. Great for cooking, marinating, refrigeration and freezing. The color porcelain enamel on cast iron can be used on gas, electric, ceramic and induction cooktops, as well as in the oven. Not recommended for use on outdoor grills or over open outdoor flames. Not for use in microwaves. Lodge Color Porcelain Enamel on Cast Iron cookware is cast from molten iron in individual sand molds. The porcelain surface eliminates the need to season cast iron. Use vegetable oil or cooking spray for better cooking and easier cleaning. The cast iron vessel has superior heat distribution and retention, evenly heating bottom sidewalls and even the lid. Tightly fitting lid seals in moisture. The excellent heat retention reduces the amount of energy needed for cooking. Two layers of very hard, glossy porcelain enamel are chip resistant and easy to clean. Use wooden, silicon or nylon utensils. Metal can scratch the porcelain. Lid knob is oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. The black rim on the pot is matte porcelain, not exposed cast iron. Hygienic porcelain enamel is non-reactive with food. Although dishwasher safe, hand washing with warm soapy water is recommended to preserve the cookware’s original appearance. 11 3/4″ diameter, 2 1/8″ deep. Complete item measures 14.4″ x 12.55″ x 3.4″.
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Our Expert Consultant
Julie Chernoff is a long-time member of Les Dames d’Escoffier (past president of the Chicago Chapter, and current co-chair of the LDEI Legacy Awards Committee), the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Chernoff is the dining editor of Better, a lifestyle website and print magazine. Her journalism started in the test kitchens of Weight Watchers Magazine. She holds a BA in English from Yale University and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. She has spent the last few decades styling, photographing, teaching, developing recipes, editing, thinking and writing about food.
Overall Product Rankings
An Overview On Braisers
One long-standing method for cooking meats and vegetables is to use high heat and a little oil to first brown our foods before slowly simmering them in cooking liquid. This method of braising can be done by amateurs and professional chefs alike to easily bring robust flavors to our dishes.
Braising provides a nice caramelized, brown crust that really brings out the nuanced flavors of specific cuts of meat. It also allows them to cook at a slower pace and have time to truly soak in the seasonings. This process, also ideal for browning and caramelizing vegetables, lets the food gather flavor as the liquid evaporates and circulates back over the top of the meats and vegetables with the help of a tightly fitting lid.
“Braising is best done in a pan designed for the purpose,” culinary expert Julie Chernoff, member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, dining editor of Better magazine, and food journalist, says. “But don’t worry … this pan will be one of the most versatile in our cooking arsenal.”
She says the best pans are large, with a flat bottom and high sides to accommodate larger cuts of meat or a stew. An ideal set of braising cookware will be especially wide at the base, as seen in the Tramontina Enameled Cast Iron Covered Braiser. That provides a lot of surface area, so that all of the meats and vegetables can have direct contact with the pan directly while searing.
“Because you don’t want to overcrowd proteins in a pan when searing them — that would lead to steaming rather than to the desired caramelization — most recipes have you sear the meat in batches. Larger pans mean fewer batches are necessary,” Chernoff explains. “You’re looking for a pan that is made of heavy metal, which protects against burning and promotes even heating.”
The pan should also be deep enough to allow you to add your liquids and other spices or ingredients before placing the lid on to allow it all to simmer together. This will tenderize your meats and vegetables to the perfect temperature and texture. The depth of the braiser can determine how much food you can create in the one dish, generally ranging from three to seven quarts in volume. A deep pan, like the Cuisinart Cast Iron Chicken Fryer Braiser, 12-Inch, can be very handy in creating large batches of soup, chili or stews for a large crowd, or for those of us who like to meal prep large quantities of food to have handy for the upcoming week. Deeper, larger pans also mean fewer dirty dishes during the process of creating your meal and also gives a lot of flexibility to how the braiser can be used in the kitchen.
Many of the braisers that top the product category also boast a design that allows them to go in the oven for the latter half of the cooking process. The Lodge Enamel Cast Iron Braiser, 3.6-Quart has large handles that can be easily picked up and maneuvered while wearing oven mitts. As a general rule, it would be wise to stay away from any products which have rubberized handles that aren’t rated for oven temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
A braiser will need to have a heavy, tight-fitting lid to help circulate all the steam and flavoring back into the dish as it simmers on the stove or in the oven. The lid doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, but it should have an easy-to-use handle that can be grabbed while wearing an oven mitt. You should always be mindful to not put your face directly over the pan when removing the lid, as there will generally be a release of steam.
Another part of the design to look out for in most braisers is two handles, one on each side of the pan, which allow a solid grip while picking it up and moving it. A long single handle, like seen on many frying pans, will get very hot and could be dangerous if the user doesn’t exercise caution.
Safety and balance are key when it comes to handles, Remember, though, that those double handles will get hot, too.
“Don’t forget your oven mitts,” Chernoff advises. “Moving hot liquid around is no joke!”
Braisers are truly a multi-use cookware set, as touted by the AmazonBasics Enameled Casserole Braiser, 3.3-Quart. As it suggests in its name, you might find yourself grabbing this option for most of your daily cooking needs. It provides the versatility many look for while shopping for new cookware. For example, the low stance of a braising pan allows it to be used for simple frying tasks, like cooking eggs, but provides room to use your spatula to flipping things and moving food around.
Many braisers are even coated with nonstick ceramic finishes that make cleaning them a breeze; just a little soap and hot water will allow you to easily remove all the food debris you created from cooking. You won’t need to use a scrubber and a good amount of elbow grease to get them clean.
But braising is a great way to get the most out of tougher, less expensive cuts of meat, so having one of these pans on hand is a great idea.
“This cooking method is ideal for short ribs, osso buco, pork shoulder, chicken cacciatore and more,” Chernoff notes.
The Braiser Buying Guide
When looking to purchase a braiser, there are a number of factors to keep in mind that will help ensure that your new cookware lives up to the task.
- Find a braising pan that has a large bottom surface area. In order to brown or sear your meats and vegetables, they should have as much contact with the hot surface of the pan as possible. Any pieces stacked above the bottom layer will not braise but will start cooking slowly as the heat passes up to them.
- Determine how many portions of food you will generally want to make in your braiser. A smaller braiser can hold a few quarts of food, which is often enough to feed an average family. A deeper braiser will let you build a much larger dish that can be divided up into many more servings. But the depth of the pan will not allow for browning more meat, so this option is best suited for stews or soups, where the larger volume is beneficial.
- Look carefully at the specs of both the lid and the pan. Make sure that both will handle the high temperatures of roasting in the oven, which is often the method used for the simmering portion of the recipe.
- Choose a pan that is easy to lift with two hands while wearing oven mitts. This will also make the pan more compact as it won’t have one long handle and will, therefore, fit more conveniently in your cupboard when in storage.
- Braisers can come in many beautiful colors as well. If you like the idea of taking the simmering dish out of the oven and setting it directly on the table for serving, look for an aesthetically pleasing color and finish. If you’re looking for a braiser that will look nice on the table as a serving dish, you may want to lean toward purchasing one that has a thicker construction, which will help the dish retain its heat over the course of the meal. A thicker enamel-coated cast iron braiser will keep foods hot much longer than a thinner stainless steel model. The thicker braisers will also help eliminate hot-spots as the food simmers.
- If you intend to use the braiser as a skillet, look at the braisers that will cater to that need. It should have a shorter depth that allows you to get down to the bottom of the pan easily with a spatula or other utensil.
- Note that some braisers have a glass lid while others have an opaque lid that matches the pan. The glass lid has the benefit of allowing the user to see into the pan and check on your food. Other than that, both types of lids serve the same function during the cooking process.
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