The Best Dutch Oven is Affordable and Made Right Here in the South
When you're fixing dinner for a crowd or making a one-pot casserole for a winter meal, nothing beats cooking in a Dutch oven. The sturdy pots that are designed to go from stove to oven to table are a staple of well-appointed kitchens. The nearly indestructible pots with their tight-fitting lids and handles for toting to a potluck are the original slow cookers. They are perfect for simmering batches of beef stew or Southern-style green beans, and it's hard to imagine cooking Country Captain Chicken in anything else. Dutch ovens are incredibly useful pots for everything from cooking whole chickens to frying hushpuppies and baking loaves of bread. That is why they are a fixture on wedding registries and the wish lists of aspiring chefs. And those in the know, know that the South's own Lodge Cast Iron makes the best Dutch ovens around.
Joseph Lodge founded his namesake cast iron company in South Pittsburg, Tennessee back in 1896. He had spent his youth traveling across the South via steamship and on foot and keeping a detailed journal of his adventures, including documenting the very first time he ever ate cornbread, a notable occasion as the company now runs an annual cornbread cook-off.
Eventually Lodge ended up in Chattanooga and, according to his company's website, went for a stroll and somehow ended up 25 miles away in South Pittsburg. He liked the little town on the Tennessee River so much that he decided to put down roots. He built a house and after years of working in other peoples' blast furnaces and coal mines, opened his own foundry. He named the new company Blacklock after his friend and minister, but when the place burned down in 1910 (as can happen with a business based on fire) he moved a few blocks away and named the new company after himself. (Don't feel too bad for the minister, though, as the company recently named a new line of premium products after him.)
The Lodge Manufacturing Company has operated continuously in the same location ever since and holds the title of being the oldest cast iron cookware manufacturer in the USA. Even better, it is still owned by the Lodge family who clearly take a lot of pride in their work. Nearly every kitchen in the South has a carefully seasoned cast iron skillet from the Tennessee factory, some handed down through the generations. Their Dutch ovens are just as heirloom worthy.
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Not only is Lodge made in the South from a family company, but they are a darn good deal, too. In fact, Cook's Illustrated magazine gave them the "Best Buy Award". Bon Appetit wrote an entire article about what a bargain they are. Since they run between $38 for a one quart oven and $102 for a whopping seven-quart version of the traditional cast iron and between $70 and $148 for the enamel and both styles will undoubtedly last a lifetime, it's hard to argue with their value. Offering great products for a good value is one reason the company has been in business for over 100 years and a staple in kitchens in the South and around the world.