Le Creuset Size and Shape Advice
I could use some advice on Le Creuset. I received 2 pieces of Le Creuset as gifts - 5 qt round and a 5 qt oval. Are the two pieces redundant? Will I be happy to have an oval and a round, or should I exchange one for a different size to get some more variety? I probably won't be cooking for more than 4-6 people very often. I am thrilled to have received such nice pieces of cookware that I could not afford to buy myself, and want to make sure I can get the most out of them. Thanks in advance for your help!
If I were you, I'd be tempted to exchange the oval for a different size/shape, depending on the kinds of dishes you like or want to cook. Some candidates to consider:
- a smallish (2- to 2.75-qt) round casserole / cocotte / legumier, with fairly vertical sides -- bake bread, cook a souffle, small casseroles/side dishes, use as extra saucpan, serve soup
- large-ish gratin pan (anything in the #26 to #32 range) -- shallow baking, gratins, and roasting chicken and meat
They're all useful and attractive, including the oval, so you'll enjoy cooking and serving in them no matter what you decide to do. Congratulations!
I use my 5.5 qt round for just about everything (braising, stews, chili, Bolognese).
The oval is good for braising a chicken, but mine is the next size up. That's all I've used it for, though. I don't eat coq au vin that often.
I agree with ellabee that an au gratin pan is a useful thing to have. I probably use mine (32#, which I recommend) as much as my 5.5 qt round, for roasting fish and vegetables, and making crisps and cobblers (perfect for 2 pt. blueberries or ~4 pounds of apples).
I use the 3.5 round wide more than anything. Usually cooking for 2-3 people so if you cook for more a bigger size would be more useful. The round wide shape is the best I have found. I also have a 2.75 round but find I don't use it much since I always reach for the round wide.
Personally I have little use for an oval, so, like others here, I'd go for a lower-sided baking dish or, if upgrading, into a larger French oven, like 7+ quart, that can handle party dishes, big chilis, etc.
My favorite style is actually the "wide" French ovens. I don't often need the height of a regualr oven pot but I frequently need width for browning.
I too would go for a gratin dish. The next thing about one of those is you can heat a casserole on the stove top--so things get "going"--and then put it into the oven to bake or broil. Really handy when you want to make a dish earlier in the day and then finish at dinner time. Stove top takes the cold away so it doesn't take so long. Also great for making an easy cheese sauce with just cream and cheese, toss in cooked pasta, combine and put under broiler--hot and crunchy fast.