Le Creuset 5qt Oval ???
We have an opportunity to get one of these at a very good price (around $125) but I'm wondering if it is big enough for multiple uses. I know Le Creuset is wonderful but even a bargain isn't a good deal if you can't use it very often. Would a round one be better? We make mostly stews, briskets, corned beef, but we've heard chickens are great made in the oval.
For the uses you want I think the 6.75 qt. risotto wide oven might work best for you as you want to make large flat pieces of meat. It's also perfect for stews. It's high enough for two smaller 3 lb. chickens but a larger chicken can be butterflied and cooked in it too. Lots of surface area for making short ribs and shanks too. I think the 5 qt. oval's bottom is too small for a good sized brisket or corned beef. The 5 qt. buffet casserole might also work, but it doesn't have the height or capacity of the 6.75 wide oven.
I don't know why the oval is always mentioned as perfect for chickens. Todays chickens are bred with wide breasts and a good chicken is more square than oblong. An oval would work better for a duck, but most duck is dry roasted. The only thing I can think of the oval might be better for is a tied rolled roast, but aren't those mostly dry roasted as are long pork loins? A pot roast needs some fat and the ones that are best are flat, thick cuts of meat.
Since we have a couple of 4-5 qt round types (not Le Creuset), + a larger traditional roasting pan w/ lid), and since the only large round on the sale is an 8 qt (way too big for us), we're going with the 5 qt oval. Actually, with my wife's employee discount, it will be only $100............. too good a deal to pass up,
It depends how many people you cook for on average. I won't go much smaller than 5 qt. Not sure what you mean by "big enough for multiple uses", maybe you mean big enough to cook for several meals in one sitting. That, of course, depends how many people you cook for and how much other dishes you have. I personally think 5 quart can easily cook for 6-8 person worth of food.
A round one is better at adapting to the stovetop.
A oval one is better at fitting a whole chicken or a whole roast.
If you are not into cooking a huge chunk of meat, then a round one is better.
Oval is great. You can make anything you would make in a round pot, but in the oval you can fit in a whole chicken or a boned, rolled roast. I have several, both rounds and ovals, and the ovals get used far more often. Nice price, too!
However, if you can get the 6.5 qt. oval for a good price instead of the 5.5, I'd do that if storage ( or weight) isn't a problem. You can always make less in a larger pot, but not more in a small one, and most things you'd use a french oven to make lend themselves to leftovers and freezing.
I have a 5 qt oval (not LC, Innova?) and it fits a 3-4 lb chicken just fine. I also recently purchased a 6 qt oval (from Costco) and it seems to fit my stew recipes better (the 5 qt did the job, but was usually pretty full).
I got by with the 5 qt for 4 years without feeling I needed a bigger one. I bought the 6 qt because it was a really good price and I was making a double batch of braised beef for a party.