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huge dutch oven? what do you cook in for a crowd?

Ok, so I use my 6qt enameled cast iron dutch oven all the time. But it's actually not that huge for cooking for a big group.

Do you use a bigger one? Or are they just too heavy at 7-8-9 qts?

What do you cook in if you're braising for a crowd?

I do have bigger stainless steel pots, but they're pretty much stovetop only. But does an 8 qt stainless steel pot make more sense?

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  1. When my 5.5 LC is full my DH has to lift it. Back issues make it impossible for me. I do have a beautiful Castle Copper 5 qt. (stainless lined) that is a bit easier on me.

      1. various stews

        1. I have an 8qt LC oven. I use it often in the winter on Sundays to cook for my family. I usually cook at home and transport to my parents house. It gets pretty heavy. I typically make my husband carry it to and from the car and house when full. On the rare occasion I use it at home I can handle pulling it out of the oven and onto the stovetop but again it does get heavy.

          1. I have an 8 quart Lodge Dutch oven that I use for real crowds. That thing is HEAVY!

            1. Consider a 8 or 10 qt pressure cooker.

              Large dutch ovens designed for use with coals (with legs and rimmed lid) are typically sized by diameter, as opposed to quarts. 12, 14 inches and up. One DO cookbook suggests:
              12" 6 qts main dish to serve 12-14
              14" 8 qts main dish to serve 16-20
              16" 12 qts serve 22-26
              These are serious pieces of hardware with bail handles.


              3 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                Maybe worth considering a MACA oven instead -- they are deeper, so have higher capacity for a given diameter. All are available in cast iron; many are also available in cast aluminum (up to the 17-inch diameter, 29 quart model). They are very high quality -- comparable to Lodge in workmanship and a bit prettier. www.macaovens.com

                1. re: MikeB3542

                  yeah, but they have those "legs" on the bottom that really create a problem getting it in and out of the oven

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    The legs aren't a problem with my little 8" DO, but I can see where they would be with a much larger one. One option is to put the empty pot in the over at the start, and add ingredients while it is there. You aren't going to be using it on the stove top anyways. As for taking it out, enlist the aid of some guests.

                    On the other hand, if you are entertaining the big crowd outside, the big DO with coals would add a point of interest to the party.

              2. Beef short ribs...you can make a ton and they come out perfect every time. Ina Garten has a great recipe that's easy to throw together.

                1 Reply
                1. re: foodISlove

                  short ribs, any stew, a good roasted chicken, osso busco, a cook pot roast or chicken stew with some dumplings.

                2. I use heavy gauge stainless steel Rondeaux or Dutch oven style pots once my 7 quart LC is too small. For one thing, they are easier to lift than enamel coated cast iron, and for another, a great stainless steel pot performs just about as well as cast iron in the oven. Yes, I am a great fan of LC and Staub, but let's face it -- you can cook just about the same way in either pot once you put the thing in the oven. That is because the heat surrounds the pot, and does not just touch the bottom, as in stove top use.

                  My larger SS pots are Demeyere and Paderno Grand Goument. Both are disk bottom, which makes the browning part easier, but I am sure that a good size All Clad would work just as well.

                  I make veal stew and brisket like this when I need to do it in larger quantities.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RGC1982

                    Does anyone have any experience with this All Clad Rondeau?:

                    or have a similar pan to recommend?

                    1. re: maggiej

                      I have it and can tell you it is one of my favorites. Easy clean up and good heat distribution.

                  2. My 5.5 qt LC dutch oven gets the majority of use in my home for three of us; however, I also have an 8 qt LC DO as well. It has proven to be very useful when I need more surface area so that things have enough space and are not jammed in while doing a braise such as osso bucco. I also use it to make double batches of spaghetti sauce, chili, soups, etc. when cooking for a crowd or to freeze for later use. When my family visits, my mom uses it to cook her chicken and dumplings to feed a large crowd. They are heavy, but I love using them. Good luck with your decision, maggiej.

                    1. I have the MACA 14 Quart Longhorn Oval.

                      I use it for camping and larger parties that I go to. I mainly do chili in it.

                      It is pretty much too heavy for normal day to day use.

                      1. I go with stainless for my really big pots, and I store them in the attic. [I cook for our club several times a year... 30-150 people] If you already have a 6 qt, I would go with at least a 12 qt brazier from a restaurant supply house. Another choice would be to brown and deglaze on the stove top in a frypan, then assemble everything in a turkey roaster in the oven. If it's something you'll only use a couple times a year, I might even go aluminum. WARNING! Restaurant supply houses are very dangerous to the wallet.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: helena handbasket

                          I have no attic, no basement, no garage, I keep pots and pans on top of my washer and dryer. I would love good pans.

                          FYI, I just got a great couple of pans from a restaurant warehouse. Sale aisle. Cheap and cheaper. Amazing prices. But you do have to watch. I knew what I was looking for. My big pots I rent for catering or have to visit my pod 45 minutes away. Life in an apartment. Wish I had room.

                          1. re: helena handbasket

                            I get the impression from cooking shows that restaurants, if they are doing oven braising, often use steam table pans (also called hotel pans?), covered with foil if needed. As with sheet pans, they want a standardized size that stores efficiently, and can go from oven to rack to cooler or severing table. If you need to make a bigger batch you use more pans, as opposed to investing in something larger and more specialized.

                          2. I just bought a Lodge 7 qt. Dutch oven because my smaller ones were too small for larger pork roasts which I've been doing a lot of recently. And even if I don't fill it completely, it going to make mixing other ingredients in prior to braising much easier. My goal was to spend under $100 and the Lodge was $90. It's not "pretty" but it wouldn't be going on the table regardless. Yes, it's heavy but when I need that size, I really need THAT size.

                            1. For big 50-60 people parties I use a extra large paella pan, normally these are tailgaters. I have other sizes and two burner setups so I could do over 100 if needed.

                              We also have two good size cambros for holding food. I use my cookshack smoker and bbq ribs, brisket, pork butts, chicken etc and then serve it out of chaffing dishes, have done tailgaters and parties of up to 200 folks using this system.

                              1. I have a 10.6 qt heavy copper rondeau. It's great for big pot roasts like a large brisket or double batches of short ribs or Filipino-style adobo or stew or chili or coq au vin, all of which freeze well.

                                If you don't have a serious roasting pan, you might look into a heavy 15x11" roasting pan (the largest size approximately that fits your average home oven, unless you have a six-burner stove with a wide oven underneath), with drop handles that can take a cover.

                                1. You can braise in a roasting pan. Brown your meat in it and then add your ingredients, and cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil, and braise away. Plenty of room, and I think restaurants use this method.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: blondelle

                                    I drop a brick on top of mine to keep the lid heavy. It looks ghetto but works.

                                    I have seen people put dough around the edge too.

                                    1. re: JanPrimus

                                      That's why I got a bigger DO. Twice I had to weigh down the lid with a really heavy rock (my cat weighed 5# at the time and it weighed more than she).

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        I have the 14 quart MACA but it just does not work (Shape wise) for a braised brisket and a few other dishes. The funny thing is that I don't have a normal sized cast iron dutch oven yet. I will most likely buy a 7 quart Lodge this summer.

                                        1. re: JanPrimus

                                          Yeah, my problem was if it was deep enough it wasn't wide enough and vice versa. I'd have probably even gone with bigger than 7 qt but I just can't justify the cost. The Lodge lid has a little more of a dome shape (not much but a little) so that gives me some more wiggle room.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            One of Martha Stewart's magazines just had a gorgeous 5 lb. braised brisket and veggies recipe done in an All-Clad roaster and covered with foil as I suggested. Looked really yummy. You can also use it for short ribs or just about anything for a crowd that's braised, as well as of course roasted.

                                            Still heavy, but not as much as cast iron, and useful for many other tasks, which a large dutch oven might not be if you would only use it occasionally.

                                            1. re: blondelle

                                              I use mine a lot outdoors while camping and I just love the look of Cast iron. I do have my 10 quart All-clad for the braised brisket when I am home...

                                              I would love to be one of those Chuck Wagon reenactment people...

                                              A cutting board, a single knife and my MACA 14 quart.

                                              1. re: blondelle

                                                I do that for short ribs all the time. And it's a really cheap roasting pan. Yeah, I think you're right; I probably would go any bigger than the 7qt. The roaster would do just fine. And while it's easier to do all the browing in the same pan that's going in the oven, it's not a deal breaker for me.