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looking to buy some le creuset - what sizes will i use the most? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

i'm interested in investing in some good cast iron cookware. i know i want a medium sized saucepan and medium and large oval baking dishes with covers for braising, etc.

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  1. I'd say it depends on what and for how many you tend to cook.

    I most often cook 6-10 servings at a time, and my LC 7.25-qt round oven works very well for the braises and slow-cooked soups and stews I make. It's big enough to accommodate more food but not so big as to be useless for the smallest recipes I use.

    1. We purchased a Emile Henry oval 6.5 casserole dish three years ago and we love it! It works on the stove, in the oven, straight from the refrigerator. I would strongly recommend any Emile Henry products.

      1. I got a 3.5 qt oval casserole and I am in love with it. It is enough for 4-6 people and so easy to move around. I guess it depend on how many people you usually cook for. When I use mine I usually have enough left overs to freeze in single servings and makes my life much easier.

        1. I have a 3.5qt and a 5ish qt and love them both and rarely feel redundant having two medium-ish sized ones. I'm normally cooking for 2-4 people but often cook more to freeze or to have leftovers and my bases are covered.

          I like the smaller size to make my Lahey bread as well!

          WON
          http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com

          1. I have a large Le Creuset that I use over and over again. In addition to making large pots of soups, stocks and braises, I find it invaluable for stir-frying. As I have a small kitchen, I need to be incredibly judicious of my cookware choices. The cast-iron helps to retain the heat well and you really do need a lot of space to stir-fry even a small amount of food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Miss Needle

              I have a 6.75 qt oval that i bought at Marshalls for $130... whichi s a really nice discount. I also bought the 2.75 qt oval that is their promotional piece on amazon yesterday when they had it as a gold box special. The regular price is $79.99 which is a great price plus no shipping or tax from amazon, and the special gave it another $20 off. I'm looking now for a 5.5 qt round and i expect that will be it for some time for dutch ovens.

            2. How many people do you routinely cook for? That will determine the size...if it's 1 or 2, then 3.5 and 4.5 sizes will work for general purpose cooking. On the other hand, if you cook for a family of 6 or 8, plus you like leftovers, you need to up-size to a 5.5 and a 7.5 or even larger. Regarding saucepans, I have one LC (got it on deep discount), but I probably wouldn't buy another one. It's too heavy for the sort of cooking I generally do in a saucepan--boiling potatoes, pasta, steaming veggies--that require me to heft it over the stove and pour the contents into a strainer. I find myself using the AllClad much more frequently.

              1. I just got my first Le Creuset dutch oven a couple days ago. I got the 5 quart oval one, they were on sale at Williams Sonoma online. The oval one just seemed like it had more space inside than the round. I used it for the first time and it held 2 lbs of short ribs and it was just enough space. I'm glad I didn't go smaller. I plan on getting a lot of use out of this!

                1. I cook for only 2 people with leftovers and I use my 7 quart round french oven the most.

                  I also have a 4.5 quart which I use frequently and the largest one they make for parties, etc.

                  The 7 is by fare the most practical and versatile.

                  The 4.5 -5.5 is too small for some things -- an oven-roasted pulled pork, for example. Or a whole chicken. Unless you cram the food in, which you really don't want to do.

                  The 7 is big enough for large things and large batches without being too big to make smaller batches in.

                  I wouldn't consider anything smaller than a 4.5 or 5.5, though.

                  I would also suggest the round french ovens because they work so much better on round stove burners.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    i agree with hamster, get one in the 7 quart range.

                    1. re: chuckl

                      I third Hamster. I usually cook for 2, but most things I'm going to cook in a Dutch oven I'm happy to have leftovers of. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit I have four enameled cast iron Dutch ovens, three round with the largest the 7 quart and one oval. I use the 7 quart half again more often than the 5 quart and only occasionally use the 4 quart or the oval. Some people worry about the weight of the larger pot when it's full and you have to move it from the stove-top to the oven. Never been a problem for me, and without putting too fine a point on it, I've been using that 7 quart for nearly 40 years now.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        now you guys are making me think that i should buy a 7 qt... because I have so much room for another dutch oven!

                        WON
                        http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com

                    2. re: C. Hamster

                      Definitely agree with you about the round ones. Unless you just plan on using it solely to roast chickens or roasts, round ovens make so much more sense.

                      1. re: Miss Needle

                        interesting... i prefer my 6.75 qt oval because it is a better shape for most of the things i use it for (which are usually oven roasted items)... whole chickens, pot roasts, lamb shanks, etc. Cast iron distributes the heat enough that i don't care about the shape when i'm starting many of these items on the stove top. i don't really notice any cold spots.

                        1. re: sprmario

                          I'm always a bit confused reading about oven roasting in a Le Creuset oven. To me for roasting you need as much of the meat exposed as possible. Putting a roast or chicken in a Le Creuset covers most of it with the higher sides, and just the top is exposed to the direct heat. Wouldn't the rest steam rather than roast, even with the lid off?

                          Would you please explain how you roast in the LC. I would like to try it in my Staub. Does contact with the walls of the post brown the meat where it touches? Do you cook it first with the lid on? Thanks ;-).

                          1. re: blondelle

                            I have never used mine to roast anything either.

                            Braising, yes, but roasting (which by definition is dry heat) no.

                            I have used in many times to bake no-knead bread -- another reason for a round oven.

                            1. re: blondelle

                              i roast them w/ the lid off. My oven is fairly old and has a lot of hot spots. The cast iron evens out the heat that actually reaches the chicken or pot roast.

                              There's an episode of Good Eats where Alton does a standing rib roast in a large ceramic pot within the oven. Similar idea.

                              I always roast in a humid environment regardless. When i make my Thanksgiving turkeys i start the turkey with a good amount of vegetables and chicken broth in the roaster.

                      2. I mostly cook for two of us and don't care much for leftovers. The two LC pots I use the most in my house are a 2.75 round and a 3.5 buffet.

                        I also have a 5.5 round and an 8 qt oval. I use the 8 qt a lot when I cook at my Mom's house on Sundays and we have 8 at dinner.

                        At work 5.5 round seems to be our most popular size...it's a good size for most families and pretty versatile.

                        1. This is my go to wedding gift and I always get the 6.5 or 7 as a starter.

                          You won't be sorry with either the round or the oval, but IMHO I would get a round first.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Jennalynn

                            I agree - I have the 6.5 round and cook mostly for just two of us and use it all the time - don't really know what I'd use a smaller one for.

                          2. I got the 7.25 round last month and I love it. I only cook for two but like to do large batches of soups and then freeze it. I'm glad I didn't get the smaller size. Bigger is better in this case.

                            1. I bought a Mario Batali 6-quart enamel-coated cast iron Le Creuset knockoff on Amazon about a year ago for under $100. At first I thought it may be too big, but after using it for potroasts, briskets, and soups, I'm really glad I got it. It is wide enough to sear meats prior to braising. I also have an ancient Le Creuset 2-1/2 quart that is small enough to use to store and reheat leftovers. I can enthusiastically recommend the Batali, especially as it was about 1/3 the price of a comparable LC.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: nosh

                                How is the Batali holding up stain and chip wise? I just got one in Pesto for my mom, and I'm going to use it tomorrow for a double batch of lentil soup. I think the proportion of the Batali is just perfect. It's low and wide, but with enough height for soups too. The Pesto is such a fresh pretty green!

                                1. re: blondelle

                                  Mine was the standard red-orange. It came very well-packed, with four rubber gaskets between the pot and the lid for protection that I saved and still use when storing it. I had read some critiques on this board before my purchase warning about chipping, so I'm careful when using it and I only handwash, no dishwasher. The way I figured, it was worth the slight risk because I could buy another one and still be ahead of a LC costwise!