I bought this because I had used a Le Creuset dutch oven long ago, in grad school. Several of our professors in the department were very good cooks and they all swore by a particular French pot that was the best thing for stews, braised meats, soups --anything, in short, you wanted to cook in a dutch oven.
We've had ours for quite some time. I leave it on the stove because it's heavy and because I probably use it once a week to cook a dinner to serve for the weekend and then pack up for busy weeknights.
It is true that the enamel is practically non-stick. If you do not let the pot get over heated, which it does NOT like, and which will damage the enamel, it will stay "non-stick" for a long time. If you do not scratch the enamel with harsh scrubbing pads or with metal implements, it will stay in good order.
The pot is HEAVY. Now, this is a consideration if you have arthritis. It sounds trivial until you develop joint problems (my thumbs and one wrist are not what they were....) and so lifting it in and out of the oven is an issue for some people. The lid handle, a flat knob, requires you to use a pot holder, and the same for the stirrup handles. I suggest glove-type hot mitts instead of a pad for a sure grip if you are removing it from a hot oven or hot stove.
Clean-up is easy. Let the pot cool, soak in some soapy water, wipe out and if needed, use a mild nylon scrubbing pad. There will be some staining (or patina) from some foods, and if this bothers you, you can use a special cleanser but I don't worry. Some people do clean the stubborn stains with a paste of Barkeepers Friend, which is said not to be abrasive. If you burn the pot, you can remove the burnt-on crust by an easy technique (applies to any pan.) Boil up some baking soda in water in the pan. Let it sit. The burnt stuff will peel off and you can then wash out the pot.
I will include here my recipe for French-Style pot roast, which we liked a lot and was my husband's absolutely favorite dish.
3 1/2 lb of beef shoulder or boneless chuck roast
2 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
Salt, pepper, and a bay leaf
2 medium yellow onions, cut in chunks
1 leek, well cleaned, just the white part cut into slices.
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/3 bottle of merlot wine
1/2 lb mushrooms (white or crimini brown) cleaned and sliced
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs Minor's Beef Base or substitute 1 cube or packet beef bouillon powder
Dry the beef and saute in hot oil in the dutch oven. Brown on all sides, remove to a plate to hold. Saute onions and leeks until they just begin to clear, add in crushed garlic and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms wilt and add in the wine. Cook down until the wine is reduce by at least half. Add in the beef base, tomato paste, seasonings, bay leaf, add back the beef, the wine and reduce somewhat. Then add enough water to cover up to half the height of the meat. Cook on the stove top until the meat is very tender (about 2.5 hours, your time may vary.) Some people do this step in a 350 degree oven and you can certainly do that, too.
Remove beef to a plate, keep it warm, pour off the gravy, skim off the fat (I use a gravy separator) and puree the gravy if you want it smooth. Saute the rest of the mushrooms and add them to the gravy and reheat this sauce. (you can do the mushrooms ahead of time.) Slice the meat across the grain, serve with the sauce.
on October 30, 2012
Bits of the inside finish chipped off after I had used it approximately 4 times to make onion soup. I sent it to Le Creuset to be replaced under the terms of their warranty which said that the warranty would be voided if the pot had been burned. I was completely confident that the pot had not been burned. There were no scorch marks, burn marks or any other indications that the pot had been burned. The missing chips were scattered at random on the bottom of the pot. (In other words, they did not show a distinctive circular pattern which may have resulted from the circular heating element.)
Much to my astonishment, they refused to replace it because they claimed that the pot had been burned. It hadn't been burned. They refused to return the pot to me so I had no way of disputing their claim.
However, they did offer to send me another pot for a fairly large amount of money.
on January 27, 2014
I loved this pot and used it almost daily for 2 years. I followed every rule for cleaning and use, but somehow the enamel got a chip in it. Since Le Creuset offers a lifetime warranty on their products, I was silly enough to believe they'd fix it. I spent $30 to have my pot shipped off to be fixed/replaced, and I finally got a reply today. According to them, the chip was a result of misuse and they had to dispose of it due to safety reasons. WHAT!? My $300 "heirloom quality" dutch oven, thrown in the trash?! Thanks, but I could have saved my $30 and thrown away your junk product for free. As a small consulation, they offered to sell me a new one for $90. This is an awesome deal if this item is indeed a lifetime investment. But if this can't even stand up to use 2 or 3 times a week, then I'm not interested. And to add insult to injury, another reviewer said when their enamel got chipped, they took it back to Williams Sonoma and they replaced it on the spot, no questions asked. I am absolutely outraged that this company would treat their customers like this! And throwing my pot away is insult to injury! I'll stick with Lodge from now on!
on December 22, 2013
First disclaimer in order, i got this through my points redemption, not from Amazon. I haven't had the foresight to check amazon review first and now am out of some 20000 hard earned points. For a upwards of $200 investment, you would think the inner coating would stick around for a while and not chip as easily. So I am baffled as to why it won't even withstand the lightest use. I am not a baker. I only switched to Le Creuset because I am tired of replacing my non-stick stir fry pan every other year, and the toxic chemicals they purported release. Never did I use any metal on the enamel. Only wooden or bamboo, for an average of 5 uses per week. Usually soak overnight and wash with hands. I haven't put it in the oven yet and the side enamel had a noticeable chip out of the blue. I was much rougher with my nonsticks and yet they lasted longer. Having read the horrid after sale experiences of some folks here, that one had to haggle with Le Creuset in order for them to honor their warranty i am leaning towards not shipping back while praying for their exchange, and be glad that I didn't buy it with *real* money.
on October 7, 2012
I splurged and bought this pot a few years ago to bake The New York Times no-knead bread in. I also figured I could use it for soups and stews and chilis. What I didn't realize at the time was how prevalent this pot would become in my cookware rotation. It's second only to my iron skillet in frequency of use. I love to braise pork tenderloin in this with some chicken stock, water and herbs, I love it for tortilla soup, huge vats of oatmeal, and yes, for baking bread.
I have damaged the pot a few times. It's not difficult to hurt the interior enamel lining, which I've done by accidentally letting liquid boil down to almost nothing (very, very bad). It chipped and more than once I thought I'd have to throw the pot away. I could never bring myself to because of how much I paid for it. Subsequently, the inside of my Le Creuset is not very pretty or as non-stick as it once was.
The pot continues to get a lot of use in my household, though. It's just so all-purpose and despite the damage heats foods evenly.
Since I loved a previous reviewer's idea of posting a recipe in her review, here's mine for Cioppino:
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb chopped (or substitute 1 chopped green bell pepper)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, or canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme or a large pinch of fresh
1/8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes or tabasco sauce to taste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in juice
2 cups water or fish stock
1 cup red wine
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
1 pound skinless fillets of thick white-fleshed fish such as halibut, hake, or pollack, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound cultivated mussels (Here's some info on the difference between cultivated and wild mussels). (Can substitute little neck clams or oysters.)
Fresh parsley for garnish
In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add fennel, onion, garlic, and shallot and cook until just tender.
Add red pepper flakes, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, tomatoes (with juice), wine, water, and clam juice and bring to a boil. Let boil uncovered for about 20 minutes. Stir in seafood and simmer, uncovered, just until fish is cooked through. Be careful not to overcook your cioppino.
Serve with sourdough (perfect for sopping up broth).
on April 19, 2015
Beware when buying Creuset that the company uses excuses to get out of honouring their lifetime warranty. My mother, who is a very typical home cook, bought a Creuset frying pan and when it started to have chips in the enamel, she tried to claim the warranty. The company tried to blame my mother. This is what the company wrote:
Thank you for your patience.
Le Creuset’s warranty does not cover damage from abuse, commercial use or other non-consumer use, neglect, normal wear and tear, overheating, or any use not in accordance with the cookware instructions provided with the utensil.
With that said, our assessment department regretfully declines this warranty request due to damage caused by overheating. The black satin enamel has been compromised in a way that is instantly recognisable. Medium and low heats will provide the best results for the majority of cooking, including frying and searing. High heats should never be used to pre-heat a pan before lowering the heat for cooking. Cast iron retains heat so well that if a pan/pot is overheated in this way it will contribute to poor cooking results, sticking and discolouration of cooking surfaces that can lead to chipping.
While our guarantee does not cover accidental misuse, we would still like to offer you a 40% discount off of the purchase of a new pan. If this offer is of interest to you, please let me know and I will send you the information and a return authorization form.
on February 10, 2014
I was SO excited for my sister to get her new Le Creuset 5 1/2 Quart Round French Oven as her WEDDING PRESENT. I LOVE Le Creuset items. I own several pieces handed down by my grandmother to my mother and then to me. After 3 generations, each piece sees regular use and is in impeccable condition.
My experience with AMAZON is getting my 1 Star review. I purchased this "new" item last week. The pot arrived today. My sister opened it and sent me photos of an extremely chipped and broken, obviously USED, pot. The book accompanying was covered in grease stains. There is food residue in the lid. There are burn marks on the bottom of the pot. The entire inside bottom of the pot is COVERED in spider-web cracks.
I have NEVER been more embarrassed. I am so incredibly disappointed.
I am currently printing out the return label and am not sure whether to trust an exchange option, or simply require a full refund and get them something else. I am in SHOCK that Amazon would try an pass off this item as a "new" item available for purchase. I would not spend $10 on something in this condition, let alone the $300 I just spent.
on August 26, 2012
...it would, hands down, be this enameled cast-iron french oven. I found a Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart oven at a discounted price last year when the colors were being changed from solid to the ombre-like coloring they currently have.
Needless to say, I love it.
It browns, sears, develops fond, deglazes, fries, bakes, sautes; it does everything. In it, I have made soup, stew, red sauces, enchilada sauces, macaroni and cheese, as well as any dish that requires sauteing onions first. I have seared and cooked all kinds of meat, fried donuts, onion rings and french fries. I love using it. It does Everything it is supposed to do Perfectly. It cleans up terribly easily; you'd think it would be super hard considering the things I've made it in, but you'd be wrong. It is heavy and durable and will last forever. I love it and would never give it up.
It is, without a doubt, the single best thing I have ever bought to use in my kitchen, for cooking or otherwise.
on February 23, 2014
I've head this cookware for years in all sizes and use it all the time for stews, pasta sauces - you name it! Got is also for my daughter. Over the years a couple of pots had their enamel chipped. I thought of throwing these two pots away and buying new but then decided to check what a life-time warrrantee really means. I called them, they gave me the address. I packed the two pots (one dutch oven and a small one with a handle that I had picked up on sale some thirty years ago) send them to that address in Florida and voila -- a month later I got a replacement! They no longer made the model of the little old one, so they replaced it with a newer model. So I now have two new pieces. Good job, le creuset!
on November 13, 2013
The high regard Le Creuset cookware has is well deserved. This 5 1/2 quart size holds a 5# chicken with ease. Plenty of room left over to add broth, veggies, other edibles.
Le Creuset says to not use metal when cooking. Good advice. The porcelain enameled on the cast iron is harder than metal, stainless steel anyway, and you will leave minute metal particles in the enameled porcelain. Don't use metal and the piece stays pristine forever. Low heat is key.
Clean up is a snap. Soap and water.
A kitchen using a Le Creuset piece, is a happy kitchen.