How to choose the right Le Creuset Dutch oven
Regarded as a practical staple of the French kitchen since 1925, Le Creuset cookware has become a hit around the world. It’s easy to see why. The company’s signature product — a candy-colored, heavy-duty cast-iron pot — is useful for cooking all kinds of dishes. With its easy-to-clean enamel, even heat conduction and tight-fitting lid, the iconic Le Creuset pot is hailed by professionals as the gold standard of Dutch ovens, especially. It is exceedingly durable, features a light-colored cooking surface and straight sides. And with its large, looped handles, it is also exceptionally easy to pick up and carry. This piece comes in a slew of colors and dimensions, but with so many options, how do you choose the right Le Creuset Dutch oven to suit your needs?
Size it up: Consider what you cook, and how many you feed
With sizes ranging from the one-third-quart mini cocotte all the way up to the massive oval Dutch oven of 15-and-a-half quarts, Le Creuset has cookware dimensions for every occasion. But if you’re only planning to invest in one piece, consider two things: the types of dishes you like to cook, and the number of people you typically feed.
If you’re drawn towards cooking stews and soups, you’ll need taller sides but less pot width. If you prefer roasting and braising (like an osso buco), the base of the pot will need to be wider to allow enough space for browning and caramelizing.
When it comes to the capacity of your Dutch oven, the general rule of thumb says you should plan for one quart per person, and then round up. (One quart roughly translates into one serving size). If you’re cooking for your family of four, look for a pot with a minimum capacity of four quarts. Rounding up, this gets you to a five- or six-quart Dutch oven.
If you often cook for extended family or guests, or if you like to “batch cook” to prep weekly meals, plan to add a few quarts of capacity to accommodate. Be sure to check that the larger Dutch oven will fit comfortably in your oven, and that you’re able to lift it when it’s full.
Le Creuset’s most popular sizes are the five-and-a-half-quart round-shaped Dutch oven and the six-and-three-quarter-quart oval-shaped Dutch oven. These sizes offer the most flexibility, with the ability to scale up or down to accommodate a recipe.
And if bread baking is your thing, the company just released a new Bread Oven (and a recipe for bread) to take your loaves to the next level.
Choose from a Rainbow of colors
Design appeal and personal taste should always factor into the selection of investment pieces you plan to use regularly. If a practical piece in a bright color makes you smile while you get dinner going, you’re in luck, because Le Creuset doesn’t do bland color palettes.
The original hue of the Le Creuset Dutch oven enamel is a fiery red-orange ombré influenced by the color of molten iron and known in French as “volcanique” (called “flame” on the U.S. market). If you love a classic, this might be the shade for you. Bright red cerise is the company’s most popular color globally. The pots also come in more than 100 other colors, including nectar yellow, deep teal, Caribbean blue, sage green and satin black. Satin black is the closest color to raw cast iron that Le Creuset has ever produced. If understated is your vibe, this hue fits the bill.
The company also frequently creates specialty looks (glittery pink, now discontinued, was launched for the Japanese market), design collaborations and limited-edition models, like its mini-collection of hand-painted Star Wars cookware.
Opt for a color you know you’ll like, whether it’s because it matches the rest of your cookware or simply because you love it. Just make sure you feel confident you’ll love it for years, since your Le Creuset Dutch oven might outlive you.
The Le Creuset Difference
When you are thinking about how to choose the right Le Creuset Dutch oven, it might be tempting to find a Le Creuset lookalike at a lower price point. Keep in mind, however, that Le Creuset’s price tag reflects the quality of the materials and the expertise of the production process.
All of Le Creuset’s cast-iron products are still made at the original location in Fresnoy-le-Grand, in northeastern France, where they were first created nearly 100 years ago. This carries on a long legacy of excellence that you simply won’t find with many other companies. Le Creuset pots are made of high-performing cast iron that heats evenly and efficiently, eliminating any too-hot spots while you sauté or brown ingredients. The cast iron also means that a Le Creuset Dutch oven retains its heat for hours, which is necessary for braising meat or thickening stew. In addition, the glossy, enamel finish makes the pot durable and easy to clean.
Alternative, lower-cost Dutch oven options to Le Creuset often use materials that don’t behave the same way at high temperatures. The pots often heat up and cool down too quickly, which doesn’t allow flavors to develop during the cooking process.
Le Creuset’s Commitment to Sustainability and Durability
Le Creuset has invested heavily in making its operations environmentally sustainable in recent years. A high-priced update to the French plant significantly reduced the facility’s ecological footprint, and the cast-iron products now contain 70% recycled metal. The company also seeks out ways to use more renewable energy in the production process.
Thanks to the product’s heritage and durability, you know you won’t be tossing out your Dutch oven anytime soon or shopping for a replacement. Le Creuset’s pots are known to last for decades. Some people literally write them into their wills. And if it doesn’t last, the company’s lifetime guarantee means Le Creuset will send you a new one.
Now you know why the Le Creuset Dutch oven has earned the title of classic. Consider investing in one or more of these pots, and you’ll be turning out inventive and delicious dishes in no time flat.
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