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My original Le Creuset has the smaller handles and though it's the most beloved pot I own, the handles are an issue. I have a bit of arthritis in my thumbs and I found that lifting the pot using even Silicone Mitts was a bit squirmy and I felt a bit unsure, especially when taking a heavy pot out of the oven.

This pot has bigger handles for a better grip but is the same, wonderful enamel-over-cast iron that works so well for cooking soups and roasts. The enamel is inert (like glass) and is non-stick as long as you remember not to scratch it up with abrasive cleaners and scrubbers. If something sticks, you can soak it when it's cooled down, and there is a TRICK for the sad, black patches that happen occasionally to the distracted cook. (No saving the burnt-flavored food, you're on your own if your pot roast "catches" on the bottom. I taste the sauce, and if no burnt flavor permeates, we are good to go.) To remove burnt patches, let the pot cool down, fill about 1/4 the way with water, add a handful of baking SODA and boil up. Then let sit off heat. The action of the alkaline soda on the somewhat acidic burnt food will lift it right off the bottom in big flakes. Then you can wash out the pot as usual. For stains, you can use a paste of baking soda or try some Barkeeper's Friend (which is said to be non-abrasive.) The pot will eventually stain a bit on the bottom, and that is called "patina"; in other words, don't fret.

This pot stays on my stove all the time--it's pretty and I love the cherry red, though the other colors are equally attractive. I had to choose, and red is good in many kitchens (black and white, yellow, for example.) It looks appetizing.

I will include here my pot roast recipe, which was and is our favorite dish from the dutch oven:

French Style Pot Roast

3 lb chuck roast
olive oil
1 big yellow onion
1 leek, white part cleaned and sliced
1 diced carrot
1 stalk fine diced celery
1/2 lb mushrooms (prefer brown crimini, but white mushrooms work too)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 handful parsley, chopped, optional
Salt, pepper as desired
1/3 bottle good Merlot, Cabernet, or Shiraz (any drinkable dry red wine)
1 Tbs beef stock paste (Mrs. Minors) or 1 packet beef bouillon powder

Method:
Brown meat in Le Creuset Dutch oven until all sides are browned. Take out meat and set on a platter.
Brown onion (large dice), then leek, carrot and celery until softened. Add in tomato paste, garlic, beef stock paste or powder, deglaze (bring up the cooked bits from bottom of pot with the wine. Add back the meat, season, add bay leaf. Place in 325 degree oven, cook for 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart. About 1/2 the way to this point, add in the washed, sliced mushrooms.

When the meat is cooked, remove it to a platter and keep warm. De-grease the sauce: remove bay leaf, push sauce through a sieve (to extract vegetables), pour sauce into a gravy separator and let settle. Pour off the sauce and discard the fat. Reheat gravy, season if you like with the parsley. Slice the meat and serve with the gravy.
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on September 5, 2013
There's not much that hasn't been said about this great French Oven, but one thing I'll add/emphasize is that if you're deciding between this and the 5 1/2 quart, this is the one to get.

The 5 1/2 quart pot is terrific, but it is too small for many soups, stews, etc. I can much more easily picture scenarios where people would be wishing the 5 1/2 quart had more room, while it is harder to imagine a case where this one would be too big.
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on August 2, 2014
This is my 2nd 7 1/4 French Oven. The first lasted about 10 years before the interior enamel on the bottom was worn badly enough that I felt it needed to be replaced. Ironically the interior sides and exterior were pristine and could have passed for new (too bad they can't just refinish the bottom). LC told me to send it in for evaluation, and if they agreed that it was worn but not abused they would replace it free of charge (I had to pay shipping fees to them). They did in fact replace it with a new one. My second one is now over two years old, and it is also starting to show some minor signs of the enamel wearing. You can see it if you inspect it closely, you can also feel it if you run your fingers over it. It's a slightly grainy feeling, as opposed to the perfect smoothness of the intact enamel.

I am a serious home cook and I take excellent care of my cookware, especially this french oven. It's great for so many things, as well as being attractive. But I've really grown tired of cleaning it, and I now find myself using it less and less. Whenever I sear anything (which is often) I get stains on the bottom that are a huge pain to remove. Cleaning it can be a multi-day process of soaking and scrubbing with a no-scratch sponge. I should point out that I have used and cleaned it according to LC guidelines. I don't use prohibited abrasive pads or harsh chemicals. I only use plastic or wooden utensils, just to be extra careful.

I am confused about some reviews that I see claiming that the pot will not stain, or the enamel does not wear. Maybe others simply use the pot no matter what the condition. But I guarantee you if you do anything more than boil water you will get staining and wear. If this doesn't bother you then it could in fact last a lifetime.

I have mixed feelings about this product, and although I like it very much I'll probably go with an All Clad stockpot next time. Cook's Illustrated gives it their highest recommendation as a lightweight french oven (the LC is the recommended heavy french oven). I have an All Clad steel skillet that is over 10 years old and still has a perfect cooking surface, despite heavy use.

The LC french oven is ubiquitous on cooking shows, which always gives me a laugh. They look great on TV and I'm sure this is a powerful marketing tool. Bear in mind that Ina Garten neither pays for nor cleans her french oven! Give me a break!

I love LC products, just understand what you are in for in terms of maintenance and product life.
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on June 19, 2012
I purchased the 7 1/4 qt. round french oven in Marseille. The color was even better than any pictures I had seen. The french oven is a dream to cook with. I've used it on top of the stove and in the oven. It's a breeze to clean up which has made me love it even more. I use it so much that I now keep it out on my stove top. It looks as good as it cooks. My only regret? I wish I had invested in this a long time ago.
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on October 19, 2013
just ask all the friends and family to whom I've given so much of it! This new blue color is very attractive and looks very nice just sitting on my pots and pans shelf. I must admit I cringe when I see virtually EVERY television cook using metal utensils and banging those utensils on the edge of the pan to clean off the food residue. Even Jacque Pepin does it and he of all people should have more respect for this magnificent cookware. Enameled cast iron is very rugged but sharp wraps on the porcelain will eventually cause chipping and your pan will be ruined. I have several pieces of the Le Creuset including a frying pan and two saucepans and they cook wonderfully. Do NOT use high heat to melt butter or to heat the pans more quickly; it promotes sticking and burning. Use wooden or Le Creuset's rubber utensils in these pans to stir and scrape and the lustre will remain for many years. These pans will make a much better cook of anyone who appreciates the best. Remember, buy the best and you are only disappointed once!
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on September 9, 2013
This was such a deal on Amazon Warehouse that I just couldn't resist. Now my collection is complete. I use this one for large family gatherings since normally we are just 2 in the house. Making stew or sancocho in this is a charm.

Because I got it from Amazon Warehouse, the box was damaged. At closer look, the pot itself is not perfect (the enamelled orange is a bit thin here and there), however there are no chips anywhere. And in fact, I kind of like that it's not perfect because Le Creuset used to be more concerned with quality than aesthetics years ago before they were catapulted into stardom by the movie Julie & Julia. This oven works, it looks beautiful and it has history. So for $145.00, I am good on all those fronts.
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on August 8, 2012
This is a great addition to my kitchen. One of the main reasons I purchased this product was to make the artisan bread recipe that is floating out there on the web (although i think it is a Le Creuset recipe). The Dutch oven performed beautifully and I had an amazing loaf of crusty bread when I finished and hardly any clean-up to the oven. I will be baking bread regularly and will certainly use it for stews, soups, etc. Well worth the $!
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on November 13, 2013
You truly get what you pay for with Le Creuset.

Pros:
- even heat distribution
- quick heat up
- excellent heat retention
- tight seal where the lead meets the pot
- this particular size (7.25 qt) seems perfect as an everyday pot
- one pot meals (can go from stove top to menu)

Cons:
- really heavy, wouldn't recommend if you have arthritis
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on May 28, 2013
As advertised! If you are prepared to spend this amount of money, then you know what you want and what you are going to get! TOP OF THE LINE!!! Be advised, dune is significantly darker that depicted.
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on May 12, 2014
Before buying this I'd inherited a 5-qt. Descoware dutch oven which my mom used throughout my childhood and which I still use and love. It's in superb condition considering its age (she probably got it as a wedding gift in the late'60s). It looks almost identical to Le Creuset enameled dutch ovens and its Le Creuset's predecessor.

Problem was, every time I make pot roast in it, there's never enough room to put all the veggies in there that I want to - and I have a family of 5. So since Descoware no longer exists, I went for the Le Creuset and predictable ol' me got the orange color again (seems a perfect match) just to have the feel of a set (I also have a vintage small orange Descoware pan/skillet with wooden handle). This 7 1/4-quart size is PERFECT for a family of 5 plus one more night of left-overs. It behaves just as nicely as my Descoware, cleaning up as well, not chipping, etc. I love how I can use on stovetop or in oven up to 500 degrees which is ideal for artisan bread-baking as so many others have pointed out. Great crunchy crust (I recommend letting the dough rise first in a banneton/proofing basket to give it those cool rustic lines). :)

I really wanted the sort of turquoise-blue color but it felt very spring/summer and most of the cooking I use it for is in the colder months (is that a strange reason?!). So, I also stayed with orange because orange can be great in the Fall (when so many of use get into stews, roasts, etc) as well as in the Spring. At Thanksgiving, it's great to use the french oven to display/serve mashed potatoes from at the table. It's also nice in that the color is so classic.

Bottom line, this stuff lasts forever and this perfect, versatile size is highly recommended for 4 or more people.

EDIT: it's been about 6 months and this dutch oven (french oven I guess they call it) is one of the best and most useful things in my kitchen. The best part is that no matter how awful and scorched it may look after a heavy roasting, it cleans up as if it were nonstick. Sometimes there's a hint of staining (not usually) and what I do in that case is just use some Barkeeper's Friend and a semi-abrasive sponge and it comes off with absolutely no elbow grease. I've also learned that I wouldn't want it any bigger because of the weight when it's full, but that it's still manageable (this is coming from a pre-arthritic chica with two lovely tennis elbows, ugh). Tonight I cooked for 7-8 and still didn't need to fill the pot so it's not every day one would have to in most cases I imagine. I also bought a smaller size (4 qts or 5? It's the size they recommend for bread baking) and the breads always come out SO well - so impressive - like it came out of a fancy high-end bakery. ;) ;) ;) Crunchy perfectly brown crust with nice big chewy holes on the inside, crackling away!
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