French Ovens: What They Are And Why You Need to Own One

If I were banned to a deserted island tomorrow, and could only take one piece of cookware with me, it would have to be my Le Creuset French Oven.

Sometimes called a Dutch Oven, a French Oven is a large round or oval cast iron pot with a tight fitting lid (that’s the Dutch Oven part) that has been dipped in enamel and baked at super high heat. The result is an incredibly long lasting piece of cookware (like, lifetime guarantee long) that’s naturally non-stick, and serves quadruple duty in any kitchen. Want to bake a cake? Do it in your French Oven. Deep fry latkes? French Oven again. French Ovens are safe to use on the stove top and in the oven, making it the pot you will find yourself reaching for whether you are braising meat, roasting a chicken, making stock or stirring a risotto. Fantastic for parties, French Ovens when covered will keep your creations warm for far longer than any other pan you own. They are also incredibly easy to clean, come in an array of designer colors and the tight fitting lid allows it to go straight into the fridge until it’s time for leftovers. I mean, is there anything a French Oven can’t do? Mine is busy right now balancing my checkbook, and it appears to be doing a better job than my husband.

French Ovens aren’t cheap. The most famous brands, Le Creuset and Staub, will retail at around $200 for a basic 5.5 quart, due to each piece’s creation from a unique mold. A serious Kitchen Essential investment, but so worth it. Lucky shoppers may find one lining the housewares shelves of discount stores like Marshall’s or TJ Maxx. Caplan Duval is a great online site to find them, but wait for an advertised sale. Amazon has great prices on them year round as well. Never ones to miss a party, celebrity chef’s have gotten in on the French Oven game, with Mario Batali and Rachael Ray recently releasing their own lines, at much more reasonable prices.

My advice? Pick the color that will match your kitchen, assess which size and shape suits your needs (many cooks swear by the oval shape, as it can more easily accommodate long cuts of meat) and invest in one of the top-of-the-line brands. The mileage you will get out of one of these babies will have it paying for itself in no time.

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