Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Love: Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Any foodie who watches Food Network will recognize these dutch ovens. (All-Clad pots and pans, KitchenAid mixers, Wüsthof knives, Le Creuset dutch ovens... these are the things that make a home chef whimper and drool.)

I never thought I'd own one of these, until one day I happened upon one at a flea market. It was old, beaten up, and red (my favorite color). The white enamel had become well-worn and even had a couple spots of cast-iron showing through. After contacting a friend-of-a-friend who is a food scientist to make sure this old pot was too legit to quit, for $30 I took it home and figured I would give it as much love as it obviously once had.

I used that old thing for almost every meal. It became one of the most cherished pieces in my kitchen. There is nothing—and I mean nothing—like drizzling some oil in the Le Creuset and throwing in some onions/garlic/carrots/etc. The sound. The smell. The feel of moving around those ingredients with a simple wooden spatula. The way the food looks against the creamy enamel... It's pure heaven to me. (Right up there with the sound my dog makes when she's crunching her food.)

Sadly, that old dutch oven bit the dust one day when I accidently left it on to heat up without putting any oil in it. There was a horrible burnt smell and the enamel had blackened and starting popping off. I cried. It was as if I had killed something that I loved.

That was almost a year ago, and I didn't think I'd own another one unless I happened upon one at a yard sale or antique store. I wasn't about to pay full price for a new one.

Then, a couple of days ago I had a birthday, and my wonderful boyfriend bought me a big-mamba-jamba dijon Le Creuset dutch oven. Isn't he fantastic? I think he knows that when I am happy in the kitchen, his belly is happy.

Good things:
  1. The heat retention on these things is incredible. It will truly be unlike any other pot in your kitchen. You can cook on a low or medium heat most of the time once it's heated up.
  2. You will feel like Giada, Ina, Tyler, or [insert name of your fave Food Network chef here]. Like me, you may find yourself talking out loud while you're cooking.
  3. It's so pretty that you can leave it on the stove when you're not using it. 
  4. If you're a busy person and don't have time to make a complicated meal every night, there are some amazing dutch oven recipes out there. They require that you layer some ingredients for an entire meal in the pot, throw it in your oven, and wait for the smell to tell you that it's done. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for recipes to try. It's a nice alternative to crockpot cooking.
Bad things:
  1. The price. It's pretty steep for a single tool in your kitchen. But if you can splurge, I don't think you'll regret it.
*image via batmansmells


Details said...

Hey, did you throw your old one out yet? They're great planters for succulents, you can put ice in it at a party (you can put wine bottles in there), and...I saw a post about how to make a wind chime out of one.

I have some blaze orange Le Creusets that were my grandmothers. She found them UNDER her house when she moved in. Being an awesome country cook, she knew they were kitchen jewels...

cmykdorothy said...

I put it out with the trash because the smell was just awful. It was a few weeks later when I saw (I think you showed me) on a blog that you could use them as planters. I kicked myself repeatedly.

micala said...

I have a blue one of these I got years ago. There's nothing like it. I *adore* it.

graphite.rack said...

beyond *thrilled* that you have a new "baby" in your life. i closed my eyes and imagined the feel of it under your new bamboo spatula and could almost smell the onions and garlic sizzling in it. when i grow up i am gonna get me one-a-dem too... jus' like my big sister. *insatiable grin*

Elizabeth Yarnell said...

I'm right with you in your love of Le Creuset Dutch ovens! I own at least 6 of them in various sizes and am always using one or another to whip up dinner. I was thrilled to learn you have and enjoy my Dutch oven cookbook -- thanks for mentioning it.
Happy cooking!
Elizabeth Yarnell, author