The Le Creuset 5 1/2 Quart French Oven is one durable and fantastic piece of cookware! With it’s bright enameled outer covering, tight seal lid, and cast iron interior, it is one serious French Oven. As of this writing it is offered in at least 10 or more colors, from white to bright red.
Since I love slow cooked meals, using tougher, but more flavorful cuts of meat, I was getting frustrated with inferior oven to table cookware that just did not stand up to the promise of durability and even heating. My husband, who shares my love of fine cooking, discovered Le Creuset and gifted me 15 years ago, with a bright blue French oven. I am as thrilled with this piece as I was the first day I got it. It is heavy, durable, easy to clean and stands the test of time. The enamel finish is as attractive today as it was coming out of the box, despite the hundreds of meals prepared with it.
To demonstrate what this pan can do, I’ll use a beef heel roast or lamb shanks to demonstrate this pans abilities. On top of the stove, while preheating the oven to 350, I add 1/4c olive oil to a preheated French Oven. As it starts sizzling, I add 6-8 cloves of minced garlic, a cup each of finely chopped celery, onion, and carrots, along with 3 finely chopped shallots. Once the garlic browns, remove it with a slotted spoon, then add your meat. Sautee on the mirepoix of chopped vegetables until browned evenly on both sides. Add cracked black and white peppers to taste, a dash of sea salt, and 1 Tbsp. each of ginger, tarragon, and parsley. Spread evenly over the meat, add a cup of organic beef broth, cover, and place in your oven. Cook at 350 for 1 hour, then lower the heat to 250 and continue cooking 4-6 hours more.
During the last hour of cooking you can add 4-6 peeled baking potatoes to the pan, baste with juices, and finish cooking. The French Oven is attractive enough to serve directly from oven to table. The long slow cooking results in a tender flavorful meat, that melts in your mouth with literally no dryness or toughness in it. All the flavors meld beautifully in this oven, so you’re left with a subtly spiced dish that just oozes flavor.
Cleaning this pan is a breeze using hot water and dish soap alone. It rarely if ever needs heavy scrubbing or extra care. Le Creuset offers a lifetime warranty on this cookware, and it stands by what it means. Each piece is created with care, with solid handles that are part of the oven itself, eliminating worries over loosening or breakage. These are expensive pieces, but if you are looking for the perfect wedding gift, or simply want to take advantage of one pot meals that taste of love and care, these are worth every penny.
If you had to choose one basic piece of kitchen cookware that you can use for years and years with outstanding performance, I can’t recommend the Le Creuset French Ovens highly enough.