Readers’ questions: Le Creuset Braiser 3.5 vs 5 qt – What should I choose?

Le Creuset Braiser 3.5 vs 5 qt?

Le Creuset Braiser
Le Creuset Braiser 3.5 vs 5 qt

I’m definitely in the market for a braiser but undecided about what to get. It is definitely a decision between the Le Creuset braiser 3.5 vs 5 qt. I’m not quite sure about which one to get.

I’m minded to get the larger 5 quarts one but I’m concerned that the burners on my stove are too close together. Should I just err on the side of caution and get the 3.5 qt Le Creuset braiser?

Question from Alison Webber


Jayne: Firstly, congratulations on the decision to buy a braiser. You did not mention whether you already owned one but suffice to say, they are amazing cookware and you will enjoy every minute of using it. The results are incredible and I’m sure you will be very happy with it.

Before you make your choice, there are a few things I recommend that you consider.

How many people do you regularly cook for?

Firstly, decide how many people you regularly cook for. This is probably the biggest factor that will affect your decision.

Generally speaking, the 3.5 qt braiser is designed to provide for 2 – 4 people. The 5 quart braiser is designed for between 4 – 6 people. These numbers are recommended by Le Creuset.

In my experience though, it is better to be cautious because from my personal experience, I always need more! I work on the basis of 1.5 quarts per person minimum…as this accounts for second helpings and leftovers…who doesn’t like them.

Do you regularly cook for guests?

In an ideal world, I would have several size braisers that I can pick and choose from. The reality is that most people have one which means it needs to be as versatile as possible.

Factor in the fact that a braiser does something quite unique, it is difficult to be creative and replicate the braising effect.

The problem comes when you cook for guests…and I mean this in the nicest possible way!

If you do, you need to account for them…how many…2…3? This on top of your regular cooking numbers.

What do you cook?

Do you need more room for larger cuts of meat? Do you like to add in extra vegetables? these are all questions you need to ask yourself. Your cooking style and recipe list will influence what braiser you will need. The larger the food items, the bigger the braiser.

How big is your stove and oven?

This is actually quite important and people often do not take it into consideration. One of the aspects of braisers is the consistent heat they provide, which eliminates hot spots. This results in more even cooking.

To do this, the burner has to be central underneath the braiser otherwise the heat is focused on one side.

Some stove tops have very limited room on them which means that you have to move the cookware to one side to fit it on. This is not an ideal situation. Obviously, the bigger the braiser, the less room for maneuver you have.

Can you carry the weight?

One of the drawbacks of cast iron is the weight. They can be heavy…much heavier than you think.

The question is whether you can handle the weight of the braiser safely, baring in mind that they get very hot in the oven? Also consider that this is just the weight of the pan…the food within it will add extra weight.

Handling a hot Braiser is the central issue here, its important to recognize what you can manage safely.

Do you have the storage space…cupboard?

Something that is often forgotten in the excitement…where will I store it when I’m not using my braiser?

Where will you store it…is the cupboard wide enough? Questions you need to think about. Ideally you need to place them out of the way to prevent accidental damage. A chip to the enamel can ruin what is a relatively expensive piece of cookware.

Verdict

Alison, I hope that this gives you some guidance on what you need to consider. I’m afraid it is not as simple as me saying get this or that one. The best thing you can do is to sit down for 5 minutes and write a list based on my criteria.

Only then will you know what braiser really suits your needs.




Official Le Creuset Braiser sizes

3 .5 Quart 5 Quart
Size 12.3 x 14.5 x 5.3 inches 13.4 x 15.9 x 5.8 inches
Weight 11.8 pounds 14.7 pounds
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le creuset braiser
Le Creuset Braiser

Since you are here…Can i ask a favor?

It would be really nice if you could pin this image on Pinterest…It’s just a couple of clicks for you…but it means the world to me.

Thank you so much,


Benefits of a Braiser

Historically, a braiser was designed to cook meat. The word ‘braising’ means to steam and that is exactly how the meat was cooked. This method was so popular as it could deliver the most tender meat from the toughest cuts of meat.

The steam effectively breaking down the collagen in the meat.

The number of tasks that a braiser can handle are relentless. Whether you are sauteing or searing meat, baking or simmering, slow cooking a stew or poaching fish…it does them all with a ruthless efficiency.

What makes Le Creuset braisers so special?

There are some that will argue that cast iron is cast iron…they all do the same thing. However, as an experienced chef and reviewer of cookware, there are levels to this game.

Le Creuset are at a level that not many can reach.

Each one is handcrafted and finished to perfection. Le Creuset claim that each one is unique as the sand molds are destroyed after each casting.

The enamel applied to the braisers is the highest quality anywhere. It is designed to be chip and crack resistant and three layers are applied to each piece. You can physically see the care and attention they put into even layers of enameling. Not many companies can reproduce this level of quality.

The cast iron is special too. Their mix is made specifically for their products. It is pure in that respect. Some companies use meted down automotive parts for their cast iron…not Le Creuset. As a result, Le Creuset cookware consistently performs the best when tested for heat spots.

What really makes them so special is the feeling they evoke. It is a desirable premium product that people absolutely want in their kitchens. It is a statement piece. A work of art.

Braiser vs Dutch oven

In some ways they are very similar. They are both cast iron, heavy vessels with tight fitting lids. However, it is the shape that really differentiates them.

Dutch ovens are taller with steep sides and are mainly designed to stew food.

Braisers have a heavy base with shorter sides that have a large slope on them. The shorter sides mean that the steam within the pan cooks the food, hence the name braiser. It is a method of cooking.

You can use both for most recipes but for certain things you need to have the appropriate pan. For example, it is difficult to braise in a Le Creuset Dutch oven as the higher sides make it difficult. You can do it but it will take much longer to complete.

Braiser vs Buffet casserole

Although they sound a little different, they are essentially the same thing. A Braiser is constructed with cast iron and also has a tight-fitting cast iron lid.

There is more flexibility of definition when it comes to a buffet casserole. Le Creuset Buffet casseroles have cast iron base but a glass lid. Other companies construct theirs from stainless steel. There is no one definition for a buffet casserole and is more an over arching definition of a braiser type pan with a lid.


Citations

Wikipedia


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