With its more than two dozen models, ranging from 1 to 13 quarts in capacity, France-based Le Creuset is almost synonymous with Dutch ovens -- large, heavy lidded saucepans. The company specializes in cast-iron cookware coated with porcelain enamel, and its original "flame" color -- bright orange -- ovens have been joined by a rainbow of other shades. You can make a Le Creuset Dutch oven your go-to cookware, given its versatility for both searing and steady low heat, and everything in between.
Wash your Dutch oven with hot, soapy water, and then rinse and dry. You don't need to season the interior as you would with regular cast iron, because the porcelain enamel glaze makes this unnecessary.
You can use your Dutch oven on any kind of heat source: electric, gas, induction, wood stove, you name it. Match the base of the oven to the closest burner in size, so the oven sidewalls don't absorb heat.
- Set your heat to Low or Medium, and give the Dutch oven time to warm up gradually, even if you plan to sear the menu items, because cast iron retains heat and may burn food if you aren't careful.
- Add liquids or oils sufficient to cover the base of the Dutch oven, and monitor the food while cooking so the oven doesn't boil dry. For deep-fat frying, fill the oven no more than one-third up the sides with oil.
- Stick to silicone, wooden or heat-resistant plastic tools, and keep metal utensils and knives away from the enamel surface.
You can marinate foods and refrigerate them safely in the Dutch oven, since the enamel coating is impermeable.
What to Cook
If you want to simplify your kitchen, you can work your Dutch oven hard, using it for virtually everything from stews and beans to baking bread and deep-frying. A Dutch oven excels at slow cooking stews such as cassoulet and soups, and you can also brown foods on the stovetop, put on the lid and transfer the pot to the oven. Roasts, paella and almost anything you can't do in a skillet should work in a Dutch oven.
Cleaning and Care
Allow the Dutch oven to cool after use, and then soak food particles in warm water for 20 minutes. You can remove stubborn food with a nylon cleaning brush or pad, but avoid abrasive products.
If you scorch sugary items in the Dutch oven, remove the carbonized material by soaking the base of the oven with a mixture of baking soda and hot water, and then scraping the base after a few minutes with a wooden spoon.