At a Glance
- 5-1/2-quart round Dutch oven
- 10-1/2 by 4-1/2 inches
- Approx. 12 pounds
- Very heavy cast iron construction
- Durable enamel finish
- Right size for 4 to 8 servings
- Heavy, oven-proof lid
- Very heavy cast iron construction (you want heavy, but heavy is heavy)
- Maximum temperature rating 400 degrees
Guide Review: Le Creuset Dutch Oven
I consider a Dutch oven an essential piece of cooking equipment. There is no pot better suited to making stews and braises - from pot roast to chicken curry - and it's also useful for making stocks, soups and even bread.
A good Dutch oven, French oven, or cocotte as the French actually call this cooking vessel, should be made of cast iron. Cast iron has what I call "thermal inertia" - it's slow to heat up and slow to cool down. This characteristic is perfect for the slow cooking that stews and braises call for because it gives you, the cook, more time to react. If you crank the heat up to high and get a phone call you have more time to remember to reduce the heat to the simmer you wanted before the pot boils over.
But you don't want the traditional American raw cast iron Dutch oven because it reacts to acids. And while my Calphalon pot held up well for many years, eventually it also succumbed to things like tomatoes and sauerkraut. Enamel, particularly the heavy enamel used on the better pots, is much less subject to reaction. Furthermore, enamel is a good material for browning, producing the rich savory flavors we seek in stews and braises.
My criteria for replacing my old Dutch oven was that it be heavy cast iron (for thermal inertia), enameled (to eliminate chemical reactions with acid ingredients), completely ovenproof including all handles (because most stews and braises cook better in the oven), and the right size.
I settled on a Le Creuset pot because I'd been using a 2 quart Le Creuset sauce pan for 10 years and it had been (and still is) reliable and predictable. The other issue was size. Although Le Creuset offers a 3 1/2 quart cocotte, that's too small for cooking six or eight portions as I sometimes do and the 7 quart pot is too big for cooking for two or three. In addition, most stews and braises are actually better the second or third day, so leftovers are a good thing. The Le Creuset pot was as heavy or heavier than anything else its size (and heavy matters) and I knew the enamel would be highly durable.
Three years after buying my Le Creuset Dutch oven I grimace every time I have to move it's 12 pounds from cabinet to stove top to oven. But despite heavy use it proven durable, reliable, and the right size. I couldn't be happier with it and every time I enjoy a perfect serving of beef stew or Senate Bean Soup I smile with pleasure.
You need a Dutch oven, and this is a good one.