Ideal for casseroles, stews, roasting and perfect for preparing soups and rice dishes, even for baking cakes. The Cast Iron Doufeu is the essential kitchen classic from Le Creuset,
Designed specifically for slow cooking, the lid holds ice to create condensation on spikes underneath the lid, continuously and evenly basting food and intensifying the flavours.
Originally introduced in 1934 by Le Creuset, the Doufeu is a cooking vessel featuring a recessed lid designed to hold ice. The Doufeu revolutionised slow cooking by the use of simmering. By placing ice cubes or cold water on top of the lid during cooking, the heat rises from inside the casserole to hit the cold surface, which produces steam and condensation. Droplets of water then fall back into the dish to retain moisture, vitamins and nutrients within your cooking. Alternatively, it can also be used as a normal casserole in the oven.
As moisture begins to evaporate inside the cooking vessel during the slow cooking process, the cool ice-filled lid causes this moisture to condense. Specially designed dimples on the flat interior of the lid direct the moisture back down onto the food in liquid form. This self-basting effect minimizes the need to add additional water and ensures that food remains moist, nutrients are not lost, and flavours intensify.
Cast iron is renowned for its cooking qualities. It absorbs heat efficiently and distributes that heat evenly throughout the piece. Like all Le Creuset products the Doufeu can be used on all heat sources and is energy efficient, requiring only the lowest of heats to maintain the correct cooking temperature.
The name of the Doufeu is taken from two French words "doux" and "feu" meaning gentle fire or gentle heat. Long before modern ovens were invented the original Doufeu would have been embedded in the deep coals of an open fire and the recessed lid filled with embers as well. The food inside was therefore surrounded by heat. This method was not controlled and often considerable evaporation took place, therefore requiring more liquid to be added to the food at the outset of cooking.
Today's Doufeu is refined to use the heat from the hob for cooking, and the embers in the lid are replaced by ice. This refinement of use means that being cast iron the Doufeu requires only the lowest of heats from below and the minimum of liquid to moisten the food before cooking begins.
Once the contents are hot the steam produced rises until it meets the cooled recessed lid. Here the steam is cooled and converted back to liquid. The projections on the underside of the lid guide the liquid directly on the food so that it is bathed in a mist of tiny droplets. This continual circulating system means that there is no evaporation or loss of liquid during cooking, foods remain moist and flavours develop to an intense degree.
To start the circulating system of moisture just a small amount of liquid is added at the beginning, this can be wine, stock, or simply water. This small amount increases during cooking. Once you become an accomplished Doufeu cook you may find that some recipes require no starting liquid at all.
The Doufeu method of cooking is suited to all meats and poultry and particularly to those meats where the moist gentle heat will completely soften otherwise tough fibres. However, it can also be used for tender poultry, vegetable dishes, fish or fruits where only short cooking times are required.
The Doufeu is intended for use on the hob and this is where it will be most effective, but it can also be used in the oven. Here, of course, the water lid needs replenishing far more often with warm water to maintain the water system inside. It should be checked every 30 - 45 minutes and refilled with warm water, not ice.
Alternatively the Doufeu can double as a conventional casserole dish in the oven, giving wide appeal to those cooks who enjoy a variety of cooking methods.