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My first Le Creuset finally...need your help!

  • c

There comes a time in every cook's life when he/she acquires a new kitchen tool or gadget, something that has the potential to change his/her cooking forever. For instance, one distinction I make in my cooking life is before-Wusthof vs. after-Wusthof. More recently, before-Zuni cookbook vs. after-Zuni cookbook.

After my 10 years of serious cooking and only getting fiercer w/ these boards, my darling husband suggested that we get me (us) a Le Creuset French oven, something I've been coveting for a long time, for our upcoming anniversary. Yeah, not a surprise, but the surprise French mandoline one year wasn't a big hit. :-)

So this will be my first (and only) Le Creuset item. I'm anti-clutter, so I only want ONE item that will prove to be the most versatile and functional. I know that I want a round French oven, not the oval. I know I want the bright flame color (pic below). My major dilemma is around the size: should I get the 5.5 or 7.25 qt.?? Am leaning towards the 7.25 since I've read that's the most popular size and erring on the bigger side seems smart (a chowhound tenet); however, I'm worried it will be really bulky, heavy, and cumbersome (I'm petite and a weakling) and that I won't really need the extra volume in the end.

It's just the two of us, but I generally make at least 4 servings of things and we do entertain regularly. Imagine myself using it more in the fall/winter for braises, roasts, cassoulet and such. Which size would you recommend if you could just get one? Pros? Cons?

So far we've found the best deal at Cutlery and More (see link). Around $140 for the 5.5 qt. and $170 for 7.25 qt. w/ a bonus grill pan; no tax and free shipping. Caplan Duval is about the same but charges for shipping, and we missed their big overstock sale earlier this year. Any major redflags or horror stories w/ C&M? Anyone know of a better online deal? Thanks for aiding in my culinary milestone...

PS. If you want to talk me out of it for reasons based on your experience or have a different brand rec, I'm open to that too.

Link: http://www.cutleryandmore.com/lecreus...

Image: http://www.boardandbasket.com/prodimg...

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  1. Well, I solved my dilemma by getting both sizes. :-)

    BUT, having said that, it really depends on what you cook for more - just the two of you, or entertaining.

    I use my 7.5 quart every time I entertain, which is somewhat to fairly often. I use my 5.5 quart very often when cooking for just my husband and myself, though I actually use the 3.75 qt most of all for just the two of us.

    So, choose between entertaining or cooking for the two of you, that's my advice. I will say that the 7.5 qt is *indispensable* when cooking big things or braises, whereas I could probably use other pots for when I use the smaller sizes.

    I love my Le Creuset pots. They are possibly my most treasured possessions.

    1. You'll be very happy with the Le Crueset. I use mine for soups, roasts, etc. I don't know the sizes, cause I swiped them from my mother who can't lift them anymore. I use the 5.5? quart one most often (it's about 10 inches across). The larger one is incredibly heavy to me, and I rarely lug it out of the garage. I have a saucepan and a 3 qt? one too, but it's that middle sized one (5.5) I use the most and has a space in the kitchen. :-) I've read here about Staub brand, and we also have 2 Copco's picked up at an estate sale. For some reason, all we make in that is rice.

      Amazon has some Le Cruesets that come with free gifts and $25 off a $125 order thru June.

      1. When your ready for your next life changing experience, buy the Staub 5 qt Dutch Oven. We just upgraded all of our Le Creuset to Staub and it has made a huge difference. The bottoms are more textured and the pots get hotter both of which produce better browning. The lid has little domes which increase the surface area and traps more steam keeping the food juicier.

        1. I would choose the bigger one personally. When we use the LC we tend to make bigger recipes and either use them to entertain or to freeze. I might be inclined towards an oval shape as well. I often thought it would be handy to roast a leg of lamb with the bone in.

          6 Replies
          1. re: JudiAU

            Thanks for your and others' responses thus far. Ok, truth be told, I'm waffling a bit on the oval vs. round. Major pro of the oval is that I can get a 6.5 qt. which seems like the perfect medium btwn. the two round sizes I'm struggling to choose from. I also like that I can braise or roast something that's oblong in shape like pork loin.

            My main concern: heat distribution and balance on the cooktop. I have a gas stove, but I'm worried that the oval shape will make for uneven heating or be more unstable. Are my fears unfounded? Any advice on oval vs. round is much appreciated!

            Link: http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details...

            Image: http://www.cutleryandmore.com/img/143...

            1. re: Carb Lover

              I've not had any problems on my gas coook top with my oval.

              1. re: Carb Lover

                Check out Caplan-duval (www.caplanduval.com). They have the best prices I've seen on Le Creuset. I ordered my 5 qt. oval oven from them, and although I am for the most part pleased, I sometimes wish I'd gone for a slightly larger size. So my advice is to go for the 6.5 qt. oval oven. Oval is nice, and it heats completely evenly on my gas stove.

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  I don't think heat distribution would be a problem. However, after I've browned the meat on the stove I almost always transfer the pot to the oven to braise.

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    I actually have the 7.5 quart in oval and round. First I had oval, but I noticed when doing the browning stage that it wasn't evenly browning on the narrow ends. So I got a round one. I think the oval is good for oblong things, but I find the round one more all-purpose.

                    1. re: Celeste

                      I agree. I have about a 7qt oval and there isn't as much brown stuff stuck to the narrow ends of the pot after browning. I get around it by browning most of the meat in the middle. This really isn't a big problem though. It has never affected any of my dishes dramatically.

                2. I have a 3.5 qt. oval for our 2 adult household. This size works great for our everyday needs but when cooking for 4+ people, it's too small and the 5 or 6.5 qt would work better. I understand your concerns about its heft and asked myself the same questions. I'm anti-clutter too. In the end I went with the smaller one because I wanted to make it a highly used & functional piece of cookware. But when I'm cramming a heap of oxtails or shortribs in there for company, I do long for a larger size.

                  The oval shape is nice because it can accomodate long, whole meat (roasts, chickens) more tightly.

                  You're right, this is one of those pivotal kitchen purchases-I think you're going to love where it takes your cooking!