Well, I am now the proud owner of a red Tramontina 6.5-quart Dutch oven, courtesy of the Site-to-Store option from walmart.com:http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina...-Oven/11989387
The store informed my by email and text message that it had been delivered, so I went to pick it up after work. The gal at the Customer Service counter had been with me throughout this ordeal, and seemed almost more excited about its arrival than I was.
I gave it a visual inspection, and found it to be quite acceptable. It was packaged very well - actually better than the previous one, and there were absolutely no flaws inside; the entire interior porcelain surface was completely free of chips, pinholes, dimples or any other red flags. The edges of the rims looked to be just fine, and the red enameled finish was actually a lot more attractive than I thought it would be.
There are two minor reasons that force me to give a 95%, rather than 100%:
1) Even though this was packaged very well and obviously had never been opened, there were no use and care instructions included. This is no big deal, because I am able to get the same information from Tramontina's website:http://www.tramontina-us.com/Cast%20...nd%20Care.html
But the fact remains that they should have been included. I will copy/paste these use and care instructions to the end of this post.
2) There were, on the outside surface, 5 or 6 tiny bubbles that had formed during the enameling process, then popped, leaving behind very small, very shallow "craters." This looks like it will in no way interfere with the function and durability of the pot, and I see no danger at all of these few slight cosmetic mars leading to any problems later. The enameling looks to be completely sound, and I had to look pretty closely to see these minor flaws. I'll try to post a picture or three of what I am talking about at a later time, but suffice to say that I was completely satisfied that these were not earth-shattering enough to go through the returns process again. I've kept all documentation regarding this purchase, including many of the notes written here, and if it ever becomes a problem, I'll take care of it then, thanks to the lifetime warranty.
All-in-all, I found the Dutch oven to be completely acceptable, so I happily carried it out of the store and brought it home. Tonight, I will season the rim of unseasoned, bare cast iron on the edges where the pot and lid meet, using flaxseed oil that the beautiful and ingenious Mrs. Tas found in the vitamin/health food section at a nice price. For the seasoning process, I'll follow this procedure:
1) heat the cookware to about 200 degrees, to open up the "pores"
2) wipe a thin layer of oil on the rims, then wipe off the excess
3) put the cookware in the oven (bare iron facing down) at 350 degrees for an hour
4) let the cookware cool down naturally, then repeat for a total of 6 treatments
One thing I noticed was that the exact-same product shown on Tramontina's website:http://www.tramontina-us.com/Product.html?pid=80131/048
has a metal, stainless steel knob:
rather than the phenolic knob that comes with the ones distributed by Wal-Mart. I plan to contact Tramontina and inquire as to whether I can acquire one - if not, I believe I can find one somewhere on the big, wide internet. It may never be an issue, since I don't plan on using the Dutch oven at a higher temperature than the 400- (or 450-, depending on whom you listen to) degree maximum that the phenolic knob is rated for; however, I like things to be well-crafted and, to quote a friend, "bullet-proof."
Now, the only question is: what will be the first dish I cook in it? Due to my schedule, I won't be able to use it until this weekend, so I am thinking about using it to prepare my pernil:http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards....-pork-shoulder
for the Cubanos that I'd like to serve on Sunday for the Superbowl:http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards....daisy-martinez
Having said that, if I get an opportunity to use it on Saturday, I'll take it!
That's about it for now - more as it develops. I'll report on how it performs during use, but for now, if anyone is thinking about getting one of these, I highly recommend it. As promised above, here are the use and care instructions from Tramontina's website:
Use & Care Instructions
The use and care information applies to Tramontina enameled cast-iron cookware with an off-white or matte black interior finish.
Using Your Enameled Cast-Iron Cookware
Before using your cookware for the first time, hand-wash with warm soapy water and dry thoroughly.
Although the enamel coating on your cookware does not require seasoning, we recommend seasoning the vessel rim and lid rim where the cast iron is exposed. Season by lightly rubbing cooking oil onto surface. Heat cookware in oven for one hour at 350°F (176°C) and let cool. Cookware is ready to use. The cast-iron grill pan and skillets are coated with an interior matte black porcelain enamel; therefore, it is only necessary to season the rim on these items.
Avoid knocking utensils on the cookware rims or cutting food directly within the cookware, as this may permanently damage the enamel surface.
The enamel surfaces are not suitable for dry cooking. Add a liquid, butter or oil to the bottom of the cookware prior to heating.
A gradual low-to-medium heat setting yields the most even and best results for most cooking tasks, including frying and searing, and the use of high heat is not necessary. Once hot, nearly all cooking tasks can be completed with lower settings. In fact, use of high heat can permanently discolor and damage the cookware and void the warranty.
When using cookware on ceramic glass stovetops, always lift (do not slide) to move to avoid scratching the cooktop.
Keep cookware on burner only during necessary time for cooking or boiling. Do not overheat empty cookware or allow gas flames to extend up sides of cookware and overheat handles.
The cookware is oven-safe at temperatures up to 450°F (232°C). Even though integral handles and lid knobs are oven-safe, they will get hot in oven and on stovetop, particularly gas stoves where an open flame is used. Therefore, use protective mitts when handling hot cookware.
CAUTION: TO AVOID INJURY, ALWAYS USE PROTECTIVE MITTS WHEN HANDLING HOT COOKWARE
Cleaning and Caring For Your Enameled Cast-Iron Cookware
Enameled cast iron is extremely durable but may become damaged if accidentally dropped or knocked against another hard surface.
HAND-WASH ONLY: We recommend hand-washing and drying your cookware to preserve the original finish.
For hard-to-clean, stuck-on foods, soak cookware in hot, soapy water and re-season as directed.
Use only nylon or soft abrasive pads or brushes to remove stubborn residues. Do not use metallic pads or harsh abrasive chemicals, as these will damage the enamel.
Be careful when stacking or nesting your cookware. Although it won’t affect the cookware’s performance, bumping or knocking against other pieces will scratch or chip the exterior and interior surfaces.
Never store your cookware when it is still damp. Allow pans to dry thoroughly by placing the cookware in an airy space, away from kitchen steam.
For items with lids, over time, the screw attaching the knob to the lid may become loose. In most cases, this can be corrected by retightening the screw, taking care not to over-tighten, as this may damage the lid. If the knob cannot be retightened, contact Tramontina’s Customer Service Department for assistance. For safety reasons, do not continue to use a cookware lid with a loose knob.
TRAMONTINA GOURMET, a collection of premium products engineered and manufactured with the finest design, materials and workmanship, outperforms similar products within the market and delivers the best quality and value to the cooking professional and enthusiast alike.