Help Choosing New Staub Dutch Oven
I'm shopping around for a Staub DO for one of my wife's 40th birthday presents. She's a very knowledgable cook and we already own a no-name 7 qt. round enameled dutch oven as well as seasoned Lodge DO and Camp Oven. I know she's wanted a LC or a Staub for a long time, but she's been hinting pretty strongly about it recently.
We've primarily used the DO for ragu, chicken and dumplings, gumbo, coq au vin, short ribs (the usual) and stuck with our Crock Pot for slow cooking longer cuts of meat.
So, I know this is a primarily a personal decision and none of you know my wife, but here's what I'm thinking as far as size shapes:
- Just get a 7 qt. round and let her deep-six the cheapie (perfectly functional, a little banged up) - it's probably the most functional size and will be used the most.
- Get a 7 qt. or 8.5 qt. oval (not sure which) - she can still use the 7 qt. round, and this will allow us to cook the larger meat cuts. I'm not sure how academic the whole uneven heating on gas stove thing is. Braising meat has been a secondary use to date, but size may have been a factor.
- The curve ball: I noticed there's a steamer insert for the 5.5 qt. round. Less functional than the 7? Yes. But when the neighbor drops off a bushel of blue crabs (I think they'll fit) off during the summer, good times will be had. Anyone use a DO in this capacity?
Don't think I'd use a Staub pot for steaming crab. Just get a decent stock pot with steamer insert if you don't have one. There are no advantages I can think of to using cast iron for steaming.
Pick the size based on your ragu, size of roasts, ribs, etc. Personally I'm not as fond of oval, due to the limited area for browning over a stove burner, the wings of the oval don't offer enough heat to brown sufficiently. If you are browning stew meat or chicken pieces you are forced to brown in batches. A nice round bottom that fits your hob well will do the best at that. She's a lucky gal!
In my experience, the 5-6 quarts volume is the most useful size for a Dutch Oven. 7 is probably as large as I will go for a Dutch Oven.
I am a big advocate of not buying LC brand because there is little difference between enameled cast iron pans and they are way overpriced. My advice would be to keep the 7 quart and add a nine or even 13.5 quart. That's what I have. The 5, 6,or 7 quart are close in size so you don't need more than one in this size range. If you entertain or cook in bulk & freeze the 13.5qt.. is useful. I make large batches of tomato sauce, Sunday sauce, Thanksgiving turkey stuffing and many other things in mine. Beware it weighs a ton, though.
Yep. My wife can handle the 9 qt that we have, but not with a smile on her face. That DO is usually my responsibility to move and wash. The difference in weight between the 9 and the 13.5 is considerable when empty, this could be a 50 pounder when full. I can get a double batch of just about anything I cook in the 9 qt. We like to cook and freeze as well.
The biggest difference between enameled cast iron pieces is in the quality of the enamel IMO. LC and Staub are more robust than many of the less expensive brands. The Martha Stuart was so bad Macy's had to pull it.