FINEX, makers of perhaps the most easily distinguishable piece of cast-iron ever, just released an equally distinguishable cast-iron Dutch oven. And unlike nearly every popular Dutch oven on the market, it doesn’t have an enamel coating.
Its lack of enamel coating matters to you in two ways: unless you’re in the possession of a commercial oven or rocket-fueled Wok range, you have no temperature limit to worry about and you’re going to need to season it like you would a cast-iron skillet. Enameled Dutch ovens will come with a temperature cap (usually from 400 to 500 degrees). If the vessel goes higher than that for too long, it will begin to craze or crack, due to the enamel and iron not being fully bonded and having different thermal expansion coefficients (they begin to warp at different temperatures).
The new piece also sports the three trademarks of a FINEX product — an octagonal design for cleaner pouring (arguably more important in a Dutch oven than a skillet), the stainless steel spring handles and, at 16-pounds, significantly higher than average weight. As we’ve noted before, the octagonal shape is also great for baking and offering an avenue for a spatula to get an angle on food that needs flipping or removing. The spring handles were previously advertised as slower-to-heat, but when cooking at the temperatures that cast-iron often calls for that can be a fairly negligible benefit. Now called “Speed Cool” handles, the steel coils don’t insulate heat as well as iron, allowing for easier carrying to-and-from the kitchen and table. It should be noted that FINEX pieces are typically heavier than most cast-iron competitors, and at 16-pounds the Dutch oven is no different. For reference, a Le Creuset that’s half-a-quart larger in total volume weighs four pounds less (same for a Staub). Typically added weight means holding temperatures more even and stable throughout the cooking area, lessening the chance for hot spots and patchy cooking.
At $300, it may be pricey, but at least we didn’t get another Le Creuset clone.
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