It takes a lot of chutzpah to quit your desk job at the ripe old age of 28 to launch a cookware company aimed at competing directly with the likes of All-Clad and Le Creuset. But Great Jones founders Sierra Tishgart and Maddy Moelis clearly have chutzpah to spare. The duo, friends since a stint at summer camp 20 years ago, launched their direct-to-consumer cookware company just a year ago and instantly made news for combining a cool, youthful design with high-quality materials at a very affordable price point. In other words, they made every cooking-obsessed millennial’s dream come true.
Not just millennials, actually. It seems everyone is falling for The Dutchess, an oval 6 3/4-quart enameled cast iron grand dame, and her retinue of stainless steel pans. The Dutchess’ tubular handles evoke a cool ’70s vibe, and her elegant matte finish comes in an array of colors more often associated with evening dresses than cookware (think: sapphire blue, forest green, goldenrod yellow, and dusty pink). This is definitely the kind of pot that should be stored in plain sight, not tucked away in a cupboard. And considering it costs far less than a Le Creuset of the same size and shape ($145 vs. $375), it’s easy to see why in just one year the Great Jones Dutch oven has earned a rabid following.
Read more: Meet the Founders of Great Jones: The Hipper, More Affordable Cookware of Your Dreams (We’re Obsessed!)
The big question, of course, is whether or not the pot is all form and no function. Does it heat evenly? Clean up fast? Does it scratch or chip easily? Do the handles feel janky? These are burning questions that needed answers, so I got my hands on a pot and put it to the test.
Buy: The Dutchess, $145 at Great Jones
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The Dutchess I tried came in a glamorous, Old Hollywood boudoir pink, and I have to admit, the matte finish and light color had me worried — wouldn’t it stain? To find out, I cooked a pot of rich, tomato- and balsamic-braised short ribs. I can be a messy cook, and of course got tomato paste on the handles and dripped the dark cooking juices everywhere, but it all washed away clean. After five hours on the stove, however, the outside bottom of the pot had some dark marks and scuffs, but so do all my other Dutch ovens.
I also worried that the pot’s oval shape wouldn’t fit well over the smallish burners on my vintage stove, and that I’d have a hot spot in the middle while the sides hanging over wouldn’t get hot enough. Turns out the pot heated up impressively evenly. The pieces of meat around the edges of the pot were a little slower at browning than the pieces of meat in the middle, but only by a smidge. After hours of braising short ribs on the stove, there was cooked-on fond in the center of the pot and not at the sides, which indicates the heat was concentrated there, but it wasn’t burnt.
In fact, the oval shape turned out really handy when I brought my short ribs home from the store and found out they hadn’t been cut. Those suckers were 10 inches long, but they fit just fine in the pot. It also perfectly fit a massive, 6-pound whole chicken and vegetables, which I roasted with the lid on so it created its own gorgeous bath of schmaltzy, chicken-y juices that we sopped up with bread. Without the lid, the pot can double as a deep roasting pan.
The oval Dutchess has nearly the same dimensions as the equivalent models of Le Creuset and Staub, and just like those pots it can be used as you would any round Dutch oven to make things like soups, stews, and pastas. I made a beefy chili with stew meat and tons of peppers and the pot worked like a champ, going from sautéing on the stove to a low-and-slow simmer in the oven. Even after three hours the thick base of tomatoes and peppers didn’t stick or burn.
To see how well the lid fits, I boiled 8 cups of water over high heat for 10 minutes. Steam definitely escaped, but it wasn’t massive amounts and it didn’t condense under the lip of the lid and drip down the sides like I’ve seen with other brands. It only lost 1 cup of water after 10 minutes, while in the same test with round versions of Staub and Le Creuset, Staub lost just 1/2 cup and Le Creuset lost almost 2 cups.
The shiny gray enamel interior splits the difference between Le Creuset’s white enamel and Staub’s black matte enamel. The light enamel makes it easier to make sure foods aren’t burning. However it can get stained, which is one of the things that irritates Le Creuset owners the most. Staub’s dark matte enamel doesn’t show stains and I’ve found through my own comparison tests that it browns meat a bit better. There’s something about its slightly bumpy surface that keeps meat from steaming in its released juices after turning the pieces over. The Dutchess’ shiny gray interior browned just as well as my Le Creuset (basically, after turning the meat it takes a little longer to develop the color on the second side) and it did seem to reduce the appearance of any stains. After braising my short ribs I could detect a couple of areas that were a tad darker than other areas, but I had to really look. If the enamel had been white, it would have been more obvious.
The loop handles look sleek and are really good at releasing heat. They do get hot but they cooled down fast when I took the pot off the stove. The side handles are wide enough to make it easy to grip the pot, which is pretty heavy (15 pounds with the lid) and even more so when it’s full. For what it’s worth, the equivalent Le Creuset pot is 2 pounds lighter (13 pounds, 5 ounces) and the 7-quart oval Staub is almost a pound heavier (15 pounds, 11 ounces).
I especially love the looped handle on the lid. The lovely rose gold hue makes it look like a piece of jewelry, and it’s really sturdy because it requires two screws. By comparison, the single screw on the knob of my Le Creuset lid tends to loosen.
Like its two main competitors, The Dutchess is oven-safe to 500 degrees; works on gas, electric, and induction burners; and is dishwasher-safe. It even comes with a similar limited lifetime warranty. With its glam look, solid performance, and palatable price tag, The Dutchess definitely lives up to its name.
Have you tried this Dutch oven? What’d you think?
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