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.
The round heats better on a stove top, the oval will hold a whole chicken or large rolled roast better. We tend to use the 5 qt round the most, but I also like the braiser for dishes that don't have a lot of liquid. They are all usefull. Two 5 qt. ovens is probably a bit redundent, but keep in mind the feelings of the one who gifted you the pieces. And they do have somewhat different best features.
Congratulations! You are lucky to have someone(s) to give you such fine gifts.
What I have to say isn't much different from what others have said, collectively: If you generally prepare the same number of portions of whatever you're making, getting different sizes in either the round or the oval shape probably won't give you the most versatility.
The difference in versatility between an oval and a round oven of the same size is, I think, rather less than the difference you'd find between other shapes and either of the ones you have.
Still, I think that the best way to think about this is to consider what you cook most often (or perhaps what you'd like to cook more often?) and from that figure out what shape/size/material pot would get the most use.
Given my own habits, I find that the Le Creuset pans with lower sides than the ovens, such as the braiser/buffet casserole or the risotto pan, and the soup/bouillabaisse pot get MUCH more use in my kitchen than any oval shaped oven ever would. I'm REALLY pleased about how well the shape of the soup pot helps circulate heat better than the round oven shape does, so I highly recommend it if you like to make your own soups. And it works best on a small burner. I use a small braiser in place of a gratin pan, at the moment.
As others have noted, there are a few things than the oval shape may be better-suited for than the round -- I just don't cook those things all that often.
So, how do you -- or how would you -- like to cook?
re: Jay F
I've got the small 2 3/4qt 22cm soup pot and the tiny 22cm braiser plus the 30cm braiser.
When cooking just one or a few portions, as I usually do, the small pots are more than adequate.
Since the proper tomatoes showed up in the markets a month or so ago I've broken in my 7 1/4 qt DO with a big batch of Bolognese.
I often put a rack in the tiny braiser and use it as a roasting pan for a chicklet or for a pair of thighs or similarly small items. The 30cm (which I've had for about 20yrs now) is just slightly too large for my smallish oven and is relegated to purely stovetop use.
The 26cm braiser, which is probably the one you have, is on my wish list. The mid size soup pot, which I think is 4 3/4qt or 26cm is also on my wish list for those times when I want to freeze extra portions.
Hi, Peri -
We've got great (fresh) tomatoes here now. They're practically giving them away, and they're good, which last year, they weren't.
The 26 braiser is the one I have. I've used it for cobblers and roasting fish, but no braising yet. The soup pot definitely sounds interesting. I love to make soup.
I hate to be contrary to everyone, but I seem to use my oval much much more than my round due to the shape. I find myself making more chicken and pork dishes, and the shape conforms much much better to the types of meal versus the round. I find myself using the round for beef stews and soups more which seem to give a more even heat to coat the sides during braising. I've tried making beef short ribs with a round and an oval, and again, I found the oval was much better to conform to the rib shape to fit more in the pot.
I would definitely exchange one of them for a different size. I have a 5 qt. round which is the workhorse of my kitchen. The next most used one is a 6.75 qt. oval. I have a 2.75 qt. round which I barely use and a 5 qt. brasier which I like but I like the ones with the high sides better.
l would trade-in the oval and replace with the oval Doufeu, the one with the depression in top for ice cubes. It has become my pot of choice in the larger size and now use for wedding presents.