I spent years researching Dutch Ovens… mostly because I couldn’t afford one. At first I believed that Le Creuset was simply an over priced, overly colorful French brand with an over inflated ego. But as searched for cheaper alternatives, reading the countless reviews on Amazon and around the web, I came to realize the old saying still rings true, “You get what you pay for.” I found more negative reviews of other Dutch Ovens than I found on Le Creuset and most revolved around inconsistent heating, staining, chipped enamel and less than adequate customer service.
At long last we got our Dutch Oven and the best part is, we paid nothing! Yes, it was an extremely generous 함 (Ham) gift from my sister-in-laws fiance. You see, in Korean culture it is still customary, in some families, that the soon-to-be son-in-law brings a big bag of gifts for the family. I never expected such a luxurious present. I guess my wife did, she was the one who suggested the gift idea to Suna and her fiance!
So now begins Les Journals des Le Creuset, French for what I hope equates to ‘The Journals of Le Creuset’. My intention is to document every meal we cook in this wonderful dish. The benefits are three fold, 1: we preserve a beautiful memory our meals. 2: we create a dutch oven / Le Creuset cookbook of sorts for future reference. 3: anyone reading this can share in and learn from our cooking experience.
Without further adieu, let me introduce the meal that stole our trademark orange Le Creuset’s virginity:
Normandy Pork Casserole with Apple Brandy
Oven: 170ºC / 325ºF / Gas Mark 3, pre-heated
Fan Oven: 150ºC
(Unless otherwise stated, these modifications were made because I lacked the required ingredients. In my small Korean town, many are impossible to find.)
- substituted regular bacon for smoked bacon
- substituted onions for shallots
- substituted soju + apple juice for calvados (apple brandy)
- omitted celery
- substituted red apples for green
- substituted dried marjoram for fresh sage
- substituted dried thyme for fresh thyme (rule of thumb is 1/3 the amount when using dried spices)
- substituted whipping cream for crème fraîche
- cooked a day in advance as it takes about 3 hours from start to finish
4.5/5 Stars – The meal was absolutely wonderful. And the Le Creuset Dutch Oven was a dream to cook in. I noticed how evenly it cooked at low temperature and loved that nothing stuck to it. The cheap pork shoulder I bought softened up perfectly to the point where it just broke apart into pieces in our mouth, and that’s before we even tried chewing it. Of course, the bacon and pork yielded a fair bit of fat but that’s what makes these dishes so yummy. My wife, baby and I gobbled everything up in less than two days. I cooked it a day in advance and it tasted the best on day three.
- loads more vegetables – thin out all that yummy meat with some chunky potatoes, carrots, onions and anything else that would seem yummy stewed