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What pot to use for braising for 1 or 2 people?

I have the Le Creuset 3.5qt braiser but it seems quite big for just me or one other person and me. I'm considering the 1.5qt version....what would you use for small braising tasks?

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  1. What exactly are you trying to make? It may make it easier to answer your question

    - I also usually cook for one or two I find the 3.5 about the smallest I use for braising recipies unless I am making a small side dish - I find it harder to shrink recipes than to shrink the pan especially when it comes to braised dishes which generally reheat well I would rather have 2 portions of stew than half a carrot, half a potato, 3/4 a roast etc

    also you don't need to fill it - I have a smaller le cruset stew pot that I dont use often.

    1. I'm with JT, I only cook for two but I wouldn't want anything smaller than 3.5 quarts. Sometimes I wish I had the 5 qt braiser! That being said we always like to cook with leftovers in mind.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rick

        I was thinking the same thing, use a bigger pot with a plan for leftovers or freezer meals.

      2. There are just two of us here for most day-to-day meals. I have a lot of LC, from a 2C oldie to the monster goose pot. Unless I am determined to make something for a single meal, I don't often use the 3.5 LC, preferring the 5 qt. But your question is not how I cook so I will ask one of my own -- are you braising small pieces or whole cuts? EX: 2 pounds of beef stew meat can be braised in a smaller pot than a solid piece of 2 pound beef roast. I could brown a couple of chicken thighs in the 3.5 but not the 1.5 qt (unless I did them in stages, which seems like a giant waste of time/energy/etc). What are you cooking in the 3.5 that you might rather cook in the 1.5?

        NB: since braising takes a bit of time, I don't see the reward in making very small amounts.

        1. I cook just for myself most days, and in cold weather I do a lot of braising. The smallest pan I ever use for that is a 2-qt. All-Clad Petite Braiser.

          If I'm cooking for now plus stocking the freezer, then I move up to a 4.5-qt. Dutch oven.

          I doubt I'd ever go smaller than 2-qt. for braising. YMMV.

          1. Boy, I am having trouble with predictive text this morning. I have found that 2 quarts is about right for a small braising pan/pot. You don't want it filled to the brim.

            (I just checked, and the pan I use for home-alone meals is 2 liters, which is 1.9 quarts, or thereabouts.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: texanfrench

              I have a 2qt ceramic covered dish that I use for small braises.

            2. I agree with JPhilly. It really depends what you are trying to make and how much of the stuffs coming from the braiser pot. In other words, is the the braiser to be used for preparing everything you need for the 2 people? Or is the braiser only to be?used for part of the meal for 2 people? And that you will have plenty of rice or pasta or bread on the side.

              The general rule of thumb (a very rough one) is 1 Quart for 1 person worth of meal.

              If you are mostly cooking for one person, then a 1.5 quart will work out fine. If you are mostly cooking for two persons, then I think a 3.5 quart pot is ok.

              1. Thanks everyone for the responses. I'd be mostly cooking main courses (meat, stews) and occasionally a side dish (braised vegetables). The 1 qt per 1 person guideline seems very helpful.

                1. I think you are correct that a 3.5 qt braiser may be a bit overkill for two. I have the Staub 2.5 qt braiser and it works great for two to four servings, depending on what's cooking. I often wish I had the larger braiser as 2.5 qt is too small for more than that. A 1.5 qt might work for two, but I doubt you would have leftovers in that small of a vessel, just not going to have much surface area.

                  I do a twist on Chicken Vasuvio with just breasts, I can get 4 in the 2.5 qt. braiser along with a couple of russets, some peas and mushrooms, and a bit of white wine. I like to have the second meal in there for the two of us.

                  1. A 1.5 is a Barbie pot. Not something for humans to use for braising .

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: C. Hamster

                      It's easier to control the heat and timing in a larger pot.
                      The smaller the pot, the greater the temperature loss when ingredients are added. That makes it tempting to turn the heat higher, which easily results in scorching. A larger pot, preheated on medium low heat for a good while, will maintain an even temperature a lot better than a small one will.

                      Also, braising requires time for collagen to dissolve. Don't think that because you make a small amount, it will be a lot faster.

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Back in my subhuman days as a grad student, I used a 1 1/2 qt glass pyrex dish for braising. I still have the lid, which happens to fit the 8" cast iron skillet that I bought at the same time.

                        The real issue isn't the size of pot, but the amount of ingredients that you intend to cook at a time. The pot should match the ingredients.

                        Yesterday I cut up a 4+lb chicken, and cooked the dark meat following a Sicillian recipe. I browned the chicken pieces in 12" nonstick skillet, an then I simmered them (stove top) with vegetables and wine in a 3qt stainless steel 'dutch oven'.

                        In the mean time I cooked the backs and scraps in a 2 qt pot to make stock, and I am now poaching the breasts in a 3qt sauce pan. Other times I've cook that size of chicken whole in a 6qt pressure cooker. If I'd wanted to braise (or stew) all the of the chicken pieces, I might have used a 5qt enameled steel dutch oven.

                        I have a 1 1/2 qt pressure cooker for quick 'braises' while camping. While camping I can't save leftovers, so the small pot is just the right size for 2 people.

                        1. re: paulj

                          You must enjoy doing dishes - I'd have done everything in sequence, just using the 3qt Dutch oven with no need to wash in between.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            I used two pans for the chicken dish to save time. While the meat was browning in one pan, I was sauteing the vegetables in the other. It doesn't take much time to clean a nonstick skillet.

                      2. Braising involves quite a bit of prolonged cooking, and often largish cuts of meat -- so it makes sense that a 3.5 qt pan is needed,

                        If it really turns out to produce more food than two can eat in two dinners (separated by a day or so), then the good news is that braises freeze well. So use the braiser and be building up a supply of meals in reserve that you'll be happy to see during harried times.

                        1. Since most braised dishes are just as good, if not better, the day after (or latter) cooking, there's little point in cooking just 1 or 2 servings. If I'm taking several hours to cook (even if most of it is oven time), I'm going to make 3-4 servings worth.

                          3qt is a convenient size, enough to hold a couple of pounds of meat.

                          As long as I can store leftovers in the fridge or freezer, it's the size of desirable chunks of meat that matters, not the number of servings.

                          1. I would recommended a 1.5Qt braiser.

                            1. I use my 2 quart Calphalon hard anodized saucier for "re-braising" leftovers on the stove top. Due to timing (have a 2 year old) some times we need to eat NOW when the braise really could use another half hour. So we eat, and then the leftovers when time to serve the next go round go in there. I like it for that compared to my Le Crueset is I can turn up the temp to fast reduce extra liquids once the meat is where I want it to be.

                              1. I would get the LC 3.5 low wide. I'm one person and it's the pot I use the most. It's perfect for 1-3 people and it's not as large as the 3.5 braiser which I also have. It's much more useful than the 1.5 qt. braiser. I do chicken and turkey breast in there all the time with veggies and it can be used for soup which the braisers can't, and great for making smaller servings of almost anything. I tried making the same sized breast in the 3.5 braiser but it didn't come out well as it was too large. The 3.5 low wide oven will be perfect for you! Same capacity but a totally different shape.

                                1. I saw a Cousances Doufeu braising pot 20 cm, about 2,5 litre capacity, on sale at a local site - would that be enough for braising for a couple of people?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: lagatta

                                    Braising what? Can you imagine fitting your typical cut of meat in it?

                                    For the browning step, the wider the pan the better (consistent with your stove), since it lets you brown meat without crowding or working with many small batches.

                                    But once you add the liquid and cover the dish, you want the meat (and vegetables) to nearly fill the bottom. The better the fit, the less liquid you need, and the more intense the flavor in the final product.

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      Couldn't I brown the meat in my cast-iron skillet?

                                      1. re: lagatta

                                        Sure. That get's around the conflicting space demands of the 2 steps.