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The ONE Le Creuset item to have?

juliejulez Dec 14, 2012 08:12 AM

So there's a possibility my boss might be buying me a Le Creuset for a holiday gift. Which one do I ask for? My main use of it would be to make things like boeuf bourginon (sp) or coq au vin or other things along that line. Would the 5-5.5 qt french oven be sufficient? I can't see making food for more than maybe 8 people at the absolute max at any one time (which would be like a once a year thing MAX), and I cook for 2 with leftovers on a daily basis. Should I do round or oval?

  1. Chemicalkinetics Dec 14, 2012 08:40 AM

    Boss?

    <Would the 5-5.5 qt french oven be sufficient?>

    I think that would be the most versatile one, so I will go for this one. As for round vs oval, it depends what you like to do. For normal things, I like round because of better heat eveniness, but if you want to cook a whole chicken or whatnot, then oval is better.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
      mcf Dec 14, 2012 02:20 PM

      I mostly agree. I have a 5.5 qt Staub and an 8.75 Le Creuset, I think it is, it's huge. For years I only had the larger one, but it was very rare for it to be much more than half full. I use the 5.5 for all sorts of meals.

      I'll dissent on the whole chicken; unless it's humongous, it'll fit in the 5.5 round, which I think heats more evenly. I've done whole chicken in it for stock, though I usually make a bunch in the bigger one with two whole chickens.

      One thing I should add; between the two, I like the fit and finish on the Staub much better, but both really get the job done. The Staub I got has a black interior, so if a very stained white porcelain interior bugs you (it's inevitable), that's something to consider. I hope you get the gift from your boss, you can't go wrong with 5.5 in either one.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
        juliejulez Dec 18, 2012 11:46 AM

        Just saw the boss question. Yes, my boss. It's a tiny company, just me and him here in the office (He owns the company and I'm his assistant) so we're very friendly.... I've been invited to his family events etc. He has daughters my age so I think he sort of looks at me that way.

        1. re: juliejulez
          Chemicalkinetics Dec 18, 2012 12:02 PM

          He is nice. I wasn't sure if you mean "boss" as in your spouse. I have a few of my friends who refer their wives as "bosses", and I wasn't sure if this is one of the cases. Trust me, I get confused very often.

          Me: Can you run this assay by this Friday?
          Dude: I will have to check with my boss.
          boss = work boss.

          Me: Hey, want to join us for a beer after work Friday?
          Dude: I will have to check with my boss.
          Me: What?!
          boss = home boss/wife

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            juliejulez Dec 18, 2012 02:59 PM

            Haha yes I know what you mean. My actual boss, calls his wife the boss.

            I'll call my BF my boss over my dead body though ;)

      2. c
        Cam14 Dec 14, 2012 09:16 AM

        The 5.5 is a great size. I have a 5 round in a bare Lodge dutch oven. I have put a whole chicken in it, up to about 4 lbs. If you plan on a lot of stovetop use, chili, soups, sauces, stews, I'd recommend the round. I have a Costco 6 3/4 enameled oval but have never really been happy with it's performance on the stove top. When browning meats, the ends of the pot are too far from the heat source, so the best browning occurs in the center. It takes longer to get an evenly browned roast or chicken pieces. Once it's in the oven though it performs very well.

        1. juliejulez Dec 14, 2012 10:04 AM

          Great, thanks guys! We'll see if I actually get it!

          1 Reply
          1. re: juliejulez
            Chemicalkinetics Dec 14, 2012 02:04 PM

            Good luck, Julie, and let us know what you think (if you get one)

          2. Jay F Dec 14, 2012 10:51 AM

            5.5 qt round (size 26)

            1. m
              mikie Dec 14, 2012 01:35 PM

              I have to agree with everyone so far, 5.5 round is a very versitle size and if I could only have one, that would be the size I would choose. As others have mentioned, oval is great in the oven, but less effective on the stove top and although you can brown a roast in it, the process is better in a round. Only a very elongated roast or other dish would fit better in the oval. A typical "pot roast" or regular sized chicken seem to fit just fine in a 5.5 qt round.

              1. Justpaula Dec 14, 2012 01:45 PM

                I have two Le Creuset skillets that I use with reservation. With a number of other skillets including stainless, ceramic, and true cast iron, I can hardly be bothered with the Le Creuset. Now, the Le Creuset six quart Dutch oven is my true workhorse. It is the one pot I can't imagine living without in my kitchen.

                EDITED: Maybe it is 5.5. It was a gift and never measured.

                1. kaleokahu Dec 14, 2012 01:52 PM

                  Hi, Julie:

                  +1 on the 5.5 round. It's the best pan LC has ever made, IMO. It fits most hobs, and therefore somewhat ameliorates LC's maddening tendency to hotspot. Fits easily even in small ovens with room for other things in larger ones. Excels at no-knead bread. Big enough for 8 non-gluttonous portions of chili, stew, soup, etc.

                  Unless you braise bigger joints of red meat, I would not get the oval. I disagree on ovals for chickens--most pen-raised and -fed birds are nearly "square" these days.

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. twyst Dec 14, 2012 02:09 PM

                    5.5 round is the most used pot in my well stocked kitchen as well. Its awesome!

                    1. juliejulez Dec 17, 2012 09:17 AM

                      Thanks again everyone. It looks like I'm getting tickets for an event instead of the pot :( But, it's good to know that a 5.5qt round would be plenty for me, as it's a more reasonable price than the larger ones. Hopefully I can just buy it for myself soon :)

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: juliejulez
                        mcf Dec 17, 2012 10:10 AM

                        There are some really good clearance prices here; I prefer my Staub over my LC, and there's also Fontignac here on sale: http://www.cutleryandmore.com/cookwar...

                        I had a good purchase experience and follow up with them when I bought my Staub.

                        1. re: mcf
                          juliejulez Dec 17, 2012 01:43 PM

                          Hey thanks, that site looks like a lot of fun. That purple Fontignac one for 99.99 is catching my eye :)

                          1. re: mcf
                            Mr Taster Dec 18, 2012 12:15 PM

                            Wow, univeral approval for the 5.5 qt. I'm surprised-- I would feel stifled using a pot that small.

                            I went with the Cooks Illustrated recommendation of the 7.25 quart round, and I've never looked back. Their philosophy is that if you're going to buy an expensive piece of cookware, make sure:

                            1) It will last a lifetime or two, and
                            2) It has maximum versatility.

                            7.25qt round is the perfect universal size, and I've only got 2 people in my household.

                            I get the most use out of the pot baking no-knead bread. I also sear without fear of splattering, cook whole chickens with ease, etc.

                            In the case of no-knead bread, if you went with a 5.5qt you're risking stifling the rise of your loaf as it bakes, if it hits the top of the lid. The 7.25 has plenty of space.

                            It's large enough to accommodate virtually anything comfortably. I never have to worry that I'll run out of space. Likewise, I never have to worry that I've got too much space left over.

                            Lastly, if you're looking for a deal, sign up for the mailing list and head to the nearest Le Creuset Outlet Store. They regularly send out postcards for deep 20-40% discounts off their already deeply discounted seconds (and firsts). I got my (perfect) 7.25 qt second quality round for about $130 (including tax). Something counts as a second when there's a blemish in the glaze, but really minor things (like the gradient of the paint doesn't fade gradually enough) also qualifies for a second quality. All seconds have full warranty and guarantee to cook as well as first quality.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster
                              mcf Dec 18, 2012 02:40 PM

                              For years, I had only a near 9 qt LC, then added the 5.5 qt Staub. Everything you say about the larger one is true, but the large ones are very heavy, unwieldy and a bitch to handle when washing. I bought the Staub, and while I use my very large LC for browning stuff without splatter, or for making stock with two whole chickens, or even for the occasional lobster, 9 times out of ten, the smaller Staub is employed and is just fine for the two of us, or with guests.

                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                r
                                rasputina Dec 27, 2012 05:26 AM

                                I completely agree, my 7 1/4 is my most used. And I wish I'd bought the 9 qt instead. I have no problems handling and washing it and it doesn't need to be filled when used. So cooking smaller quantities is fine, within reason.

                            2. re: juliejulez
                              e
                              ellabee Dec 17, 2012 10:58 AM

                              Enjoy the event!

                              While you save up for an LC splurge, you may want to take a look at some of the excellent buys in used enameled cast iron on ebay and etsy. Gratins are particularly plentiful, and are IMO the second most useful enameled cast iron item after Dutch ovens. (#32 is a good size for roasting meats as well as larger shallow baking, #28 ideal for main-dish gratins). Descoware gratins are high quality, just slightly shallower than LC, and go for remarkably little.

                              Copco and Descoware casseroles are the equivalent of LC in quality. There are also plenty of bargains on LC items, as well, many in sizes and colors no longer available.

                              1. re: ellabee
                                c
                                cheesemaestro Dec 20, 2012 10:10 AM

                                I completely agree. I have several Descoware pieces bought on eBay, including a 6-quart round and a 4.5 quart oval. I also have a Copco pot that I've owned for years and years. One nice thing about Descoware is that it is lighter (in weight) than LC or Staub. That is good for me, because I've developed a little arthritis in my wrists. I use all of these pieces frequently and recommend them highly.

                              2. re: juliejulez
                                Chemicalkinetics Dec 17, 2012 11:21 AM

                                Good luck and have fun with the event.

                              3. g
                                gembellina Dec 18, 2012 10:32 AM

                                Anything bigger than a 5.5 starts to get pretty heavy. I've got a 9 I think, which is completely impractical, and actually quite dangerous when I try to take it out of the oven.

                                15 Replies
                                1. re: gembellina
                                  juliejulez Dec 18, 2012 11:47 AM

                                  Yeah that was my other concern about something larger. I have a bad shoulder so doing upward lifting motions like lifting heavy pots off of the stove and into the oven can be difficult sometimes.

                                  1. re: gembellina
                                    mcf Dec 18, 2012 02:40 PM

                                    I have it, too, and while I won't call it dangerous as long as I bend at the knee, it's a chore to move around, full or empty, and to wash.

                                    1. re: mcf
                                      Mr Taster Dec 18, 2012 03:48 PM

                                      I think these posts sort of prove my point. 7.25 is really the best intermediate size. Large enough to do everything you need, safely and in quantity, and relatively easy to move around and wash (compared with the 8-9 qt behemoths, which are a chore to manage and too big for anything except cooking for a church picnic en masse)

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                        mcf Dec 20, 2012 07:03 AM

                                        I don't think we're in a contest here. :-) This thread and a recent one that preceded it, though, overwhelmingly indicate that most folks think 5.5 is the best and meets almost all needs.

                                        But for individuals with different uses or quantities made than most responders, the 7.25 might be better.

                                        1. re: mcf
                                          Mr Taster Dec 20, 2012 09:50 AM

                                          Very true-- it's not a competition. But the original poster seemed to be swayed by the universal love for the 5.5 so I felt it was my duty to stand up and advocate for the 7.25 qt!

                                          I really feel the 5.5 is like wearing shoes that are 3 sizes to small.
                                          For someone who has never owned a LC pot, they might not even know the 5.5 qt is too small until after years of having painful feet, not even realizing how much it hurts until their bunions are poking through their shoes!

                                          I think the 5.5 would be great as a *supplemental* pot, for ambidextrous cooking of a multi-dish meal-- but not as a universal one. I'd advise the same thing about saucepans... "should I buy a 4qt or 2qt? I can only buy one." 4 qt, undoubtedly-- because it's a more functional pot. (Then try to get the 2 qt later on in your cooking career.)

                                          Having the extra cooking real estate opens you up to more possibilities. I really feel that any inconvenience brought on by extra weight is mitigated by the benefits. I would not say the same thing for the 9qt pot.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                            Jay F Dec 20, 2012 10:35 AM

                                            I mostly agree with you in principle, but said principle brought me to a different conclusion.

                                            After years of using the 4.5, I bought an additional 5.5 and 7.25. The 5.5 was a revelation: how had I lived all those years without it? It was such a better size for nearly everything I'd always made in the 4.5.

                                            The 7.25, OTOH, was too big. Too tall. Things dried out. It was also a little too wide for my burner, and as Kaleo has often pointed out, "too wide" can create hot spots. After two years of not using it, I sold the 7.25.

                                            So, before you buy a 7.25, OP, make sure your burner has room for a 28 cm base. (The 5.5 is 26 cm, the 4.5 is 24 cm.) The 5.5 is just right for me.

                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                              juliejulez Dec 20, 2012 10:37 AM

                                              I wasn't "swayed" by the love for it, but the reasons for the 5.5 being the best were what helped me make my decision. I didn't find your reasons for having a 7.25 to be all that great (for example, I have no plans to make no knead bread). As I mentioned in my OP, the main use for this will be for making simple dishes like braises and stews in smaller quantities. I don't think I'd ever cook a whole chicken in one, I have a nice small roasting pan for that. Also, the weight is an issue for me... I have a cast iron skillet that I use fairly often and if it's full of something heavy, it can be difficult for my shoulder/upper arm (which is held together by plates and screws) to lift, so the 5.5 will definitely be on the heavy side, and the 7+ might be impossible without someone helping me.

                                              Eventually I will build up my collection, but as my first one, based on what I read here, I think the 5.5 would be the best combination of practicality for what I want to cook, and ease of use. I won't use it if it's too much of a pain to move around.

                                              1. re: juliejulez
                                                Mr Taster Dec 20, 2012 01:57 PM

                                                I've had several friends who have purchased the 7.25qt precisely *because* of the no-knead bread :) It's spectacular, pro-bakery quality stuff... deep, ruddy, crackly exterior and a tender, chewy interior with big air holes. It makes your kitchen smell heavenly.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                  juliejulez Dec 20, 2012 03:05 PM

                                                  That's great and all, but this thread is about which Le Creuset would be best for ME to buy for the type of cooking I do... not which one is best for your friends to buy for the type of cooking THEY like to do. Again, I have no plans to make no-knead bread anytime soon. I eat very little bread.

                                                  1. re: juliejulez
                                                    Chemicalkinetics Dec 20, 2012 04:54 PM

                                                    Julie,

                                                    As you know I have advocated the 5-6 quart Dutch Oven. It seems you have received many good advices coming from different angles. Mr. Taster has certainly given his best answer, just as everyone did. I am sure some find the 5.5 quart too be a bit small, while some will find it a bit big. I have a Lodge 6 quart Dutch Oven, and it works fine for my no-knead bread, so I think that also depends what size of a bread you want to make. (I know you don't plan to make bread, but I think a 5.5 quart may work alright. In fact, you can see my non knead bread was a bit small compared to my 6 quart Dutch Oven:

                                                    http://www.chow.com/photos/558765

                                                    Each of us have different needs. In a way, it is not a bad thing that some people find the 5.5 quarts to be too small, and some find it too big. In fact, this suggests it is very much in the middle ground.

                                                    Just read everyone's advices, sort though them based on your priority and needs.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                      juliejulez Dec 21, 2012 08:42 AM

                                                      I have been reading everyone's input. Maybe I'm being sensitive, but I just thought Mr Taster was a bit insulting when saying I was being "swayed" by everyone's responses and then made his best efforts to convince that HIS opinion was the right one.... after I had already said that it sounded like the 5.5 quart would be good for me. It's one thing to give an opinion, but another to try to convince everyone that it's the only way to go.

                                                      I came here to make sure what I was thinking (the 5.5 quart) would be sufficient for what I wanted to do, and based on everyone's responses (including those advocating for a larger one), it will be. As I already mentioned, I have no plans to make no knead bread so it's not really relevant as to whether or not it will fit.

                                                      1. re: juliejulez
                                                        Mr Taster Dec 21, 2012 10:02 AM

                                                        I honestly didn't mean to insult you. I apologize if my manner was gruff. I just calls 'em like I sees em. It's not personal, truly. At least, that's not at my intention.

                                                        On rereading your posts, I see I you started the conversation asking about the 5.5, which indicates to me that you probably had made your decision and wanted validation from us Chowhounds. I missed that part of your original post and subsequently misinterpreted your reaction: "it's good to know that a 5.5qt round would be plenty for me," so I'm sorry for that. You were not swayed-- you had already made your decision! Anyway, I should have read more closely.

                                                        I did give you my honest opinion about the 7.25. And I did give you some great advice on how to get some deeply discounted LC pots, so may I have some credit for that?? :)

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                    2. re: juliejulez
                                                      kaleokahu Dec 26, 2012 12:51 PM

                                                      Hi Julie: "I have no plans to make no-knead bread anytime soon."

                                                      Just for the record, I use my LC 5.5 round 2-3x/week for no-knead bread, and it works really well for that. In fact, it's about the only use it gets these days.

                                                      Enjoy whatever you choose.

                                                      Hau'oli Makahiki Hou,
                                                      Kaleo

                                                    3. re: Mr Taster
                                                      Chemicalkinetics Dec 20, 2012 05:06 PM

                                                      It makes your kitchen smell heavenly until you get sick and tired of the bread. :P

                                                2. re: mcf
                                                  s
                                                  skier Dec 20, 2012 03:44 PM

                                                  I would agree with Mr Taster here. I have a 5 quart (non-cast iron) pot and a 7.25 Le Creuset. I don't use the 5 quart anymore. It's too small. I can't make chicken soup with a full chicken, Julia's Beef Bourgingon would be tight, Westphalian Blind Hen (Mimi Sheraton) wouldn't work.

                                                  The 7.25 may be a bit on the heavy side, but after getting it, I wouldn't want to be without it.

                                                  Just as a side note, I use my Le Creuset Deep Saute Pan even more than the 7.25 dutch oven. It gets pulled out probably 2-3 times a week, if not more.

                                          2. Delucacheesemonger Dec 20, 2012 04:59 PM

                                            Consider the Doufeu, regardless of size. l have a small and a giant and seem to always use the giant as can put a lot more vegetables with whatever the major component may be.

                                            1. Lmonach Dec 21, 2012 08:56 AM

                                              The 5 qt round is the best thing I've found for braising and stews - oval doesn't heat as evenly. Bigger is too much, smaller isn't as useful.

                                              And, I make Julia's beef bourgingon all the time and it's perfect. And I've put a whole chicken in there too - just not the giant 8-9 pounders, use the more reasonable 5 pound chicken, fits fine, if it doesn't, just break the backbone and flatten it out. The 7 is too heavy and bigger than you need unless you are regularly feeding 10 people.

                                              1. k
                                                kzukor Dec 26, 2012 12:23 PM

                                                Not to pry, but how old are you Julie?
                                                When I was younger, a 5 quart may have seemed fine, but now that I am married with two kids, and many of my friends are married with two kids, you get often eight people for dinner (some now teenagers.) So, given these pans last a lifetime, you should think ahead. I have the 6.75 quart oval, and don't think it's too big at all.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: kzukor
                                                  mcf Dec 26, 2012 02:21 PM

                                                  It's not as if she can't buy another one years down the road.
                                                  Just sayinzall. :-)

                                                  1. re: mcf
                                                    juliejulez Dec 27, 2012 06:17 PM

                                                    Exactly. This would be my first one and there will be opportunities to buy/ask for others as my needs change. I am 30, not married, just shacked up, no kids and no plans for any anytime soon and I do not throw large dinner parties or gatherings for more than 8, my home can't accommodate more than that. I had 8 for Thanksgiving but 2 were kids, otherwise 8 adults wouldn't fit at my table. I want something that fits for my lifestyle now, not my hypothetical life 10+ years from now.

                                                    1. re: juliejulez
                                                      f
                                                      foiegras Dec 28, 2012 02:06 PM

                                                      Just wanted to note that 5.5 is far from tiny. I have a 2.5 (I believe) oval as well (now discontinued) that I did an amazing number of things with. When making spaghetti sauce, I now use the 5.5 and make a larger quantity. I typically make 5-8 servings at a time (sometimes more) and haven't yet felt the need for anything bigger.

                                                      1. re: juliejulez
                                                        b
                                                        blondelle Dec 29, 2012 08:14 AM

                                                        The 5.5 is the perfect starting size. It takes care of most all your needs and you can go to one larger and one smaller from there if needed. Deciding which one to get is really a moot point as they are like potato chips. It's almost impossible to stop at just one :-).

                                                  2. C. Hamster Dec 31, 2012 04:04 PM

                                                    7 quart round French Oven

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