Sure, it's created buzz on the internet—but, for one young cook, Milo stands up to the hype.
There's no doubt about it: A Le Creuset dutch oven is a fine addition to a kitchen. The French cookware brand has some of the industry's best products. But when I first heard of the startup brand Milo, and their $95 enameled dutch oven, I wondered if this newcomer could possibly be as good—for a third of the price.
And then the brand began collecting accolades. Fast Company called out Milo's main competitor with a provocative headline: "Watch Out, Le Creuset! This New Cookware Startup Is Coming for Your Pricey Lunch." And a few other food sites gave Milo a warm welcome, too.
Milo currently makes one thing and one thing only: A dutch oven. It comes in white and... no, wait. It just comes in white. There aren't any pretty pastel colors to agonize over or a range of sizes to consider—and it sells at $95 flat. According to the website, they manufacture their products just outside of Beijing, and offer free shipping.
What's more? Much like another brand your familiar with, Milo offers a lifetime warranty, which they proudly advertise on their homepage.
When Milo offered to send Cooking Light a dutch oven to see how it fared in the kitchen, I was all too eager to give it a try. I looked for a fast weeknight meal that comes to life in just one pot, and one that incorporates all different kinds of pantry staples: protein, vegetables, grains. And I found it: our Chicken Stroganoff.
The very first thing I noticed about Milo upon taking it out of the box is the noticeably missing bumps attached to the lid of the pot that you'd find on some other models. Apparently, these are designed to help baste whatever dish you're slow-roasting in the pot itself—but Milo's model skipped them. Their site actually has an explanation for this: "Nubs are useless and expensive and you don't need them (neither do we.)," the brand writes. "With our lid and every other lid without nubs, basting occurs naturally. Steam rises, collects on the interior of the lid, then drops back down into the pot, naturally and evenly."
Beyond that slight difference, you can expect the same look, feel, and build of any other dutch oven you've ever worked with: The dutch oven is enameled evenly and the nearly 6-quart interior is invitingly spacious for any size meal you're thinking of making.
The cast iron base of this dutch oven isn't any different or less effective than other brands, either. According to the brand's website, Milo can handle heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dutch oven spreads heat so effectively it's a wonder that any of us choose to cook with anything else. A warning, however: Unlike some competitors, Milo's lid handle isn't insulated from heat, and there were more than a few times where I went to check on my simmering mushrooms that I yelped out in pain after grasping a scalding hot lid handle.
Maybe insulation is a frivolity when you have a $95 budget? Either way, you'll need to have your trusty pot holders nearby at all times. There's a silver lining, though: You can stick this baby right into the oven, which you wouldn't be able to do with dutch ovens touting insulated handles.
My Stroganoff came together beautifully—the chicken didn't stick to the base of the dutch oven, the veggies and noodles were deliciously tender. I didn't hold back in the kitchen: I used both wooden utensils and a steel spatula within the pot, but I didn't see a scratch afterwards, which is a good sign. And cleaning up was just as easy—if not easier—than any other one-pot meal I've grown to love. Any and all stains from roasted chicken and sauteéd mushrooms in garlic came right off with a simple scrub.
Milo helped me create all the flavors of a tender, slow-roasted dish that I could ever hope for. In a world where Casper mailed me a bed that changed my life forever, I'm thinking Milo will transform the way I create slow-roasted masterpieces in my kitchen, too. And maybe it's just my subconscious love for all things thrifty, but I swear the $95 price tag made my meal taste that much better.