Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Martha Stewart Collection Cast Iron Enamel Cookware

An opportunity to try out an 8 quart enameled cast iron casserole of cookware from  Martha Stewart Collection was an offer I couldn't turn down. I'd seen the line at Macy's, the only place where it is available, and it's very handsome and I wondered how it would compare to my other enameled cast iron from Le Creuset..

I have three pieces of Le Creuset enameled cookware. I have smaller and larger "French ovens" as Le Creuset refers to them in round and oval shapes. I use them all the time and in recipes I refer to them as Dutch ovens or heavy casseroles.

There are some differences between the two lines of cookware. The Martha Stewart Collection cookware is made in China, and the Le Creuset cookware is made in France. The colors and styling of the cookware is slightly different as is the sizing. Le Creuset makes a 7 /14 quart round and a 9 quart round, but not an 8 quart round piece. The interior of the Le Creuset is white, whereas the Martha Stewart is a pale cream color.

I used the 8 quart enameled cast iron casserole to soak black beans and cook them to make black bean soup. I chose black beans because while enameled cast iron is stain resistant, I have found my Le Creuset pieces have stained, and I blame black beans. While the black beans created a tough to remove scale on the Martha Stewart piece, I was able to remove it completely with a gentle cleaner. The 8 quart piece is very heavy, I'd say the same weight as the 7 1/4 quart piece from Le Creuset.

What I like about the Martha Stewart Collection:
  • The performance. I found the Martha Stewart piece to work just as well as the Le Creuset. It's great for low and slow simmered dishes like black bean soup or braised beef. 
  • On the interior of the lid there are "condensation rings" that help to redistribute moisture. Do they make a big difference? Probably not. But it's a nice feature and certainly makes the lid less drippy when you go to remove it. 
  • The price! Wow! The 8 quart piece is $184.99 and $109.99 on sale. By comparison, the Le Creuset 7 1/4 quart piece is more than twice the price. The list price is $400 and you can get it online for about $294.99. Granted both manufacturers offer a limited lifetime warranty and their products are built to last, but that's a big price difference. 

What I don't like about the Martha Stewart Collection:
  • My biggest issue is with the handle. It's handsome, but it gets hot. I prefer the Le Creuset black phenolic lid knobs, which stay cool.
  • The colors are bright and appealing but the Le Creuset pieces have a gradation of color that is particularly attractive.  
As it is for all cookware, the true test of these pieces is over time, only after several years can you really know how well they hold up. But for the price, I'd say the Martha Stewart pieces are a very good value. I will keep you posted...

This Martha Stewart Collection casserole was provided to me by GigaSavvy for review purposes. I was not paid for this review and the opinions expressed are my own.