This post is part of our 'This Is Fire' series, where our editors and writers tell you about the products they can't live without in the kitchen.
I have a shelf in my kitchen where I put all my favorite cookware. Sitting next to the Emile Henry ceramic pie dish that I won at a pie contest, and the cake stand that I use for every birthday cake, is a Le Creuset 5.5-quart Dutch oven. This deep blue Dutch oven holds the top spot in my heart and reminds me of the joy it brought me during the dark days of spring 2020.
This wasn’t my first Dutch oven. I bought a low-end one for myself years ago and though I wanted a Le Creuset, I didn’t allow myself to buy one. I didn’t think it mattered if the tools I surrounded myself with inspired or helped tap into the passionate part of myself.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron 5.5-Quart Round Dutch Oven
Impeccable design and heat retention
Perfect for a family of four
Perfect to serve from
In 2020, when life was completely upended by the spread of COVID-19, all joy was stripped from my everyday life and replaced with fear and uncertainty. School for my two sons had moved fully remote and my husband was working from home for the foreseeable future. Our spring trip had been canceled. Life felt out of control and difficult, and the regular joys of life inaccessible. It was clear that life was not going back to what it was anytime soon and I struggled with adjusting to all the changes.
On Mother’s Day 2020, my husband and kids handed me a large, square present, and I tore off the paper to reveal the Le Creuset 5.5-quart Dutch Oven in Marseille, a beautiful deep shade of blue. I felt the spark of joy and hope I hadn’t felt in months. I swooned over its impeccable design, felt excitement about the incredible heat retention and enamel coating that I knew would be easy to clean and was chip resistant. Plus, it weighed less than my other Dutch oven. I knew the 5.5 quarts would be a great size for our four person family.
I felt the spark of joy and hope I hadn’t felt in months.
As spring turned to summer, we did our best, adjusted, and cooked. Every weekend, my husband and I made comfort foods. He’d smoke chicken thighs on his Green Egg and I’d pull out my exquisite Dutch oven and fry hush puppies to go with it. Other days, I’d use it to braise pork shoulder for shredded pork tacos and serve alongside warm corn tortillas, or make a big pot of cheesy pasta on the stovetop and then brown it in the oven before serving it with a crunchy salad. I love using it! The wide handles are comfortable to hold and the knob on the lid is just the right size for gripping. Water seems to take less time to come to a boil because it retains heat so efficiently. But mostly, I love the sound of the lid as it thunks against the pot when I lift it to take a quick taste.
Who knows, maybe next year I’ll add a new size, color, or shaped Le Creuset pot to my kitchen. I’m sure the Deep Dutch Oven, Oval, and Round Wide would be a great companion to my Classic Round. But no matter what other pots join the collection, the Le Creuset 5.5-quart Dutch Oven in Marseille will remain on my shelf where I can see it every time I come into the kitchen. At a time of canceled vacations and fear, this gift reminded me to pick my head up and tap into the part of myself that does more than endure, but truly lives.
Material: Enameled Cast Iron | Capacity: 5.5 quarts | Dimensions: 13.75 inches wide with handles, 7 inches tall with lid, 10.25 inches in diameter | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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Rachel Knecht is a recipe developer, food writer, and recipe tester based in Seattle. Her recipes and writing have appeared on Simply Recipes and she began writing for Spruce Eats in 2022.