Is it a Dutch oven, or a French oven? Some say they are basically the same, while others disagree saying the meal actually has a different taste when prepared in one or another. So, let us see what the French oven really is, what it is made of, and for what dishes you should use it.
How it all began?
A casting specialist Armand Desaegher and an enameling specialist Octave Aubecq founded Le Crueset in the French town of Fresnoy-le-Grand in 1925. The first cocotte i.e. French Oven was produced the same year, and the revolution of cookware had begun. Desaegher and Aubecq were first to glaze enamel, so they modeled the first color after the intense orange hue of molten cast iron inside a cauldron, in French “creuset” . Le Creuset is now the leading manufacturer of these ovens.
When it comes to the shape, the French and Dutch oven are practically the same. Tall, round pots with lids, nevertheless their construction usually differs. Unlike Dutch ovens, which are made of metal, French ovens often have a metal core coated in enamel and operate exceptionally in an oven. Le Creuset’s cast iron core soaks up heat lightly and spreads it equally over the cooking surface.
Having an enameled surface means, Le Creuset will require no scrubbing, but it will be a delight to clean it. Moreover, it does not absorb flavors so any dish you prepare in it will not have the aftertaste of a previous one. Furthermore, French oven is energy efficient; it requires low to medium heat. Its heavy lid seals in heat and flavor, and you can also put it in a freezer without worrying whether it will be damaged, because it will not. It is suitable for all cooktops, including induction, and it is best to use wooden or plastic utensils when cooking in it. You should hand wash it for better maintenance.
A French oven is precisely what you need for preparing stews and long braises. Considering it has the cast-iron, the pot will hold heat perfectly, thus creating the equal and steady temperature inside the dish. This is very important if you want to make the meat and tough vegetables completely tender. Moreover, the French oven is splendid for simmering a pot of beans, making a quick pasta sauce, or incubating a batch of yogurt.
When you hold it, the oven should feel heavy, and have equally thick walls and bottom. You should make sure you would be able to grip the handles and the knob on the lid, with the oven gloves on your hands. A 6-quart oven would be perfect for braising a chicken or making enough chili to a bigger family. Peters of Kensington offer a great choice of pots, in various sizes, shapes, and colors, so make sure to check it out for a perfect pot. These ovens can be expensive, the lowest price can be $50, and it can go up to $300 or more for one Le Creuset pot. Nevertheless, when it comes to cookware, in the majority of cases the price cost is a good indicator of quality.
The main material for coating these pots is enamel; however, in 1995 Le Creuset began exploring new product categories such as, stainless steel, stoneware, silicone, enamel on steel, textiles and forged hard-anodized aluminum. It turns out that porcelain enameled cast iron adjusts to almost all heat sources, including gas, electric, induction, and ceramic top ranges. Phenolic knobs and handles are oven safe to 450°F/232°C, which makes a high quality pot.
French oven is an exquisite piece of cookware, so if you do not already have one, buy it and watch how a delicious meal can be prepared in it. Remember, you might pay a little extra money for it, but you will have a pot that will last for many years.