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dutch ovens: round, oval, enameled, non

A basic basic question from me. What is the difference between round and oval dutch ovens? I'm about to start some serious braising for fall and winter, and I don't have a dutch oven of any sort. I'm prepared to buy one, but I can't buy anything very expensive at the moment, which probably means I'll be getting something unenameled. I know that cooking in unenameled cast iron means I can't use very acidic ingredients(I guess coq au vin is out, unfortunately.) However, my roomate has a round enameled dutch oven that I could use. Are there things that round ovens aren't good for? I know very little about this, clearly. Any tips?

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  1. I think the only real difference between round and oval is what you can fit into the pot. An oval shape allows you do braise whole poultry, or largish pieces of meat. If you're cooking smaller pieces it doesn't matter. My biggest dutch oven is oval which is the only way I can get it on a single burner on my stove. If it were round it would have to be off-center.

    If you season your unenamelled pot and use it regularly, the surface should seal. A friend of mine has a big cast iron pot which she uses for everything, including tomato-based pasta sauces and it works well for her.

    1. I use my oval for things like lamb shanks and chickens. You can braise in ceramic/pottery and glass casseroles. If your recipe calls for browning first then do that in a regular pan and then transfer to the casserole and deglaze the browning pan with wine, stock, or water and add to the browned meat in the casserole.

      1. As far as cooking it's my guess there's no difference whatsoever between round and oval. Like others mentioned, just what fits in the pot. I have a 7 qt. round LC and it can handle four big lamb shanks with no problem. Bet if I had them cracked I could do six.

        1. Cool. Thanks. I probably won't be cooking huge amounts of very large pieces of meat, so the round sounds like it'll work out.
          Just in case though, do you season a dutch oven the same way as cast iron skillet (i.e. coat the inside in oil and put it in the oven?) I hate the idea of having to leave tomatoes out.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BKchompchomp

            Yes, you season all non-enameled cast iron the same way. Unfortunately, even with a very well seasoned cast iron pot, I don't think you could escape the issue of reactivity with long, slow braises. When you want to braise with tomatoes, vinegar, wine, etc., you'd probably be better off borrowing your roomate's enameled dutch oven.

          2. I have an oval LC dutch oven and I swear that when I am making soup or something that needs to be stirred a lot, the oval shape causes things to splash out more than when I use my round pots.