Pros: Healthy nonreactive enamel. Beautiful to look at. Holds heat well.
Cons: Expensive, can be damaged, heavy.
There is often one pot in the kitchen that never leaves the stove. In our case, the Le Creuset pots stay out, looking decorative and producing most of what we eat that isn't grilled or baked.
I've liked Le Creuset ware since grad school (for some reason, the professors in our department were gourmets and liked cooking on Le Creuset.) When I finally could afford some of this heavy ceramic-glazed iron, I bought a few essential pieces. I'm glad I did.
The dutch oven is a large 11 inch round pot with straight sides. It comes in a number of colors, the original 60's Flame orange, shaded ruby red, French blue, Dune (almond), yellow, grey, and indigo blue. I think there are other colors as well.
The pot outside has a very hard glossy enamel finish that can be dinged if you don't watch out. Inside, the pot is glazed with 2 coats of beige enamel, a non-reactive, inert and smooth cooking surface. The good thing about enamel is that acid foods do not pick up flavors from it. And it is relatively non-stick (we aren't talking Teflo(tm) non-stick, we are talking well-seasoned cast iron nonstick. The Le Creuset can be used with gas, electric on top of the stove or in the oven. It also is suitable for induction cooking. Unlike some cookware, it can go stove top to oven to table.
Durability and Cautions
The enamel surfaces can be scratched with metal, so wood or plastic utensils are needed. Likewise, avoid banging the pot on stove or sink, as the enamel can chip.
The pot should not be used on the highest heat; the enamel can discolor or damage. The pot gets VERY hot and holds heat, so you must use hot pads on the side handles. The knob gets hot, though not so hot as the handles, and it is also ovenproof.
Burning on food will permanently discolor the enamel, though not affect the cooking ability. Scouring powders or harsh sponges should be avoided. (Burnt-on food can be removed by boiling a couple of inches of water with baking soda in the pot. That will loosen most blackened, stuck-on foods.)
Supposedly this goes in the dishwasher but we don't do that. Perhaps a bath of dishwasher detergent might remove the browned patina that the inside has achieved. Sadly, ours is discolored on the inside, due to some foods sticking through inattention.
The pot is quite heavy; if you have weak wrists or arthritis, you will have trouble to lift the pot. As a warning, this is not for boiling pasta, as it is difficult to maneuver the full pot of boiling water safely.
The 5?-quart Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven is very versatile. It is our chief stew and soup pot. It can roast a small bird (fryer) or a couple of Cornish hens. It is a decent jam pot, as the enamel will not cause the jam to take on an off flavor.
I don't use any other stewpot anymore, nor make soup in anything but this pot. We love it. We just got a larger saute casserole (flat with a domed lid.) And we have the small pepper shaped pot, which we used for cooking vegetable side dishes like frozen beans and corn. They look lovely and the food always seems to taste a bit better.