Faith's Favorite Pan: Le Creuset 3 1/2-Quart Dutch Oven

What pan do you reach for over and over in the kitchen? Which pot or pan never leaves your stove? Each of us have been taking a few minutes this week to show you our own favorite pans, and I have been seeing a common thread of surprise in our stories. Many of us have shown you pans that we didn't think at first would be all that useful. That is truly how I felt, believe it or not, about this small Le Creuset Dutch oven. When I first got it, I didn't think I would use it at all. Well, how wrong I've been.

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It might seem funny now to think that I wouldn't use or like such a beautiful pot. Le Creuset is a lovely thing to have around, of course. I received this pot directly from Le Creuset in a press mailing of the then-new color of Black Onyx. (Lucky, right?!) While I loved the color, I was dubious about the size. I loved my larger, less expensive 6-quart Dutch oven (Chefmate, $40 from Target) and I used it constantly. This smaller one seemed not as useful, and for a while it just sat on the shelf.

Then, while testing recipes for my big book on casseroles, I realized that this smaller Dutch oven was the same volume as a 9x13-inch pan. So recipes like oven risotto, gratins, and other classic casseroles fit perfectly in this 3-quart dish.

Well, I ended up using that pot over and over and over. I still use it for cooking just one or two chicken breasts, a small amount of short ribs, steel cut oats, beans, and more. I love baking vegetable gratins and oven risotto in this dish. With its lighter, more accessible size, and with my household consisting of just two people, I find that I use this Dutch oven far more now than my big 6-quart and 5-quart models. It's really the perfect pan. If I had to do it over again, I would buy this size Dutch oven before I went for the big ones; it has been infinitely useful.

Find it: Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 3-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, $194.95 at Amazon

Related: Elizabeth's Favorite Pan: Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

(Images: Faith Durand)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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