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Customer Review

75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for slow roasting roasts until the meat falls off the bone, August 20, 2006
This review is from: Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 6-3/4-Quart Oval French Oven, Flame (Kitchen)
Le Creuset manufactures porcelain enameled cast iron cooking vessels as well as other quality products. These cooking vessels are cast from molten iron poured in sand moulds which are used only once. For this reason, one pan may look like another, but each is unique in its own way.

Cast iron is a highly efficient material which absorbs and distributes heat. Due to this efficiency, it is recommended that cooking with cast iron is done on low to medium heat. Over heating may cause foods to stick to the pan, or worse burn and can cause the enamel to appear stained. Remove cast iron from the heat and it does not cool off quickly. This helps your food stay warm while serving. The opposite holds true as well, chill the pan and it will retain its chill for a surprisingly long time. Beware; iron tends to be heavy so these cooking vessels tend to be heavier than other pans made from alternate materials.

Cast iron is an effective material for cooking so why cover it with enamel? Iron tends to rust; iron oxide (rust) doesn't add any complimentary flavors to your food. If your cast iron cooking vessel was not enameled, you would have to season and maintain its cooking surface. Adding the porcelain enamel not only looks good, but has multiple benefits. The enamel, being a solid coating, is one of the most hygienic surfaces to cook on, does not stain, absorb odors, retain flavors, and is easy to clean. The enamel can be damaged, so limit contact to heat resistant plastic or wood utensils to eliminate the scratching and scoring the porcelain.

The benefits of cooking with Le Creuset cast iron are many, but lets get down to the French oven, Cocotte or as it's also referred to, the Dutch oven specifically. French ovens have been manufactured by Le Creuset for over 75 years, and were developed well before then. In all this time the design has stayed constant, affirming the relevance of its cooking qualities. These ovens come in either oval or round shapes. The oval shape works well for roasting whole chickens and porkloin roasts, otherwise the differences are minimal.

This pan holds 6 3/4 quarts of food, measures 9 1/2 x 12 inches or 24 x 30 cm internal diameter, 4 3/4 inch or 11 1/2 cm deep, and weighs 13 pounds. The domed lid provides a tight seal, trapping in moisture to roll back into the dish. The lid may alternatively be used as a holding plate for chopped vegetables or meat during initial preparations. Be sure to lift the pan off of cooking surfaces to reduce damaging either the pan or the surface. French oven tends to do best if at least 3/4 full. Any less and you may overwhelm your food with heat evenly dispersed in the pot.

French ovens were developed for slow cooking by stewing, braising or boiling. Some typical dishes include roasts, and stews. Other possibilities include gumbos, chili, dirty rice, baked beans, Swedish meatballs, osso bucco, or curing ice cream to name a few.

One feature that people tend to complain about is the cost. The cost does seem steep compared to other pans made from other materials. Heck, cast iron doesn't seem like it should be expensive when comparing to the old cast iron pans past generations have used for cornbread and camping. However the manufacturing process requires making a mould for each and every pan produced. They then go through the enameling process before shipping these heavy pans. If you take what goes into making and distributing these high quality cast iron products, the cost tends to make sense. Then consider that this pan will easily last a lifetime when taken care of.

PROS:

Efficient absorption and distribution of heat

Hygienic enamel cooking surface

Does not stain, absorb odors, or retain flavors

Cleans easily when not abused or misused

Can be transferred from stove top to the oven to the table

Easily lasts a lifetime

CONS:

Its heavy, as cast iron tends to be weighing in at about 13 pounds
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Location: Dallas, TX

Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,532