Favorite Cookware - Le Creuset?
- Suburban Chowhound Mar 31, 2005 07:49 PM
Hi fellow chowhounders!
I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with Le Crueset cookware -- I see a lot of chefs on the food network using this brand. It is so expensive! Is it worth the cost - do people like it, what are the pros and cons? I have all-clad cookware, and sometimes it is so heavy, I don't like to pull it out, and use whatever cheap lightweight cookware I have on hand!
Thanks for your inputs!
We have two Le Creuset pieces, one is the dutch oven and the other is a large oval pan with no cover. We use them all the time. They are very versatile--you can cook with them on top of the stove and also roast, broil or bake inside the stove. We make soup, casseroles, roast potatoes, fish--almost anything. They are very durable and last a long time. I think its good to pick out a few pieces you might use the most--you don't need that many different pieces.
I have a 12" Le Creuset skillet I bought new sixteen years ago, and a 5" skillet I bought used maybe fourteen or fifteen years ago. Both are going strong, with no chips, and I love them. I suppose that skillets are not the sort of thing that enamelled cast-iron is most noted for, but I love how even the heat is, how easy they are to clean (or deglaze), and how they look. They are my first choice for cooking bacon, toasting nuts or wheat germ, and reducing smallish batches of sauce.
The weight is part of the point. It evens out the heat, and makes them sit solidly on the burner. You just pull it out of the drawer and put it on the stove - worry about weight when it comes to things you are handling a lot, like knives.
Is LC worth the cost? Well, if I had to do it all again, I would get some vintage Copco or Descoware versus new or vintage Le Creuset. (I have several LC/Cousances round ovens). And I wouldnt buy a full set, just select pieces.
You might have the feeling that the AC is heavy because of the sharp angle and positioning of the very skinny, highly polished handle. Other tri-ply fully clad up the sides cookware have different handles (chunkier), set at different angles (flatter or curved, and mounted lower on the body of the pot), which may alleviate the feeling of the heaviness
Here is my rather long discourse on AC Alternatives
If you are looking for something lighter weight than All Clad, Le Creuset is definitely not the brand for you, nor any of the enamel cast iron cookware lines, for that matter (Staub, Copco, Descoware, Cousances, Innova, etc.).
You might want to check out the copper disk bottom, single ply up the sides cookware, like the Sitram Retro copper bottom line
Or the Linens N Things Home Pro line.
Good thing about both these lines is not only are they lighter in physical weight, they are also lighter on the pocket book.
Good luck with your search, and happy cooking!
Re: price of LC I just ordered a round 5.5 quart white dutch oven from Caplan-Duval which costs $99.00 plus $16 for shipping to New York. There is no tax. So if you want a LC, be aware that there is a vast price differential depending on where you buy.
I'm too poor to pay the kind of money they charge for Le Creuset, but I love to cook with that stuff. I've found lots of Dutch and Belgian knockoffs at antique malls - typically around $18 for each piece I've bought to date. That's also what I paid for one of my favorite pieces, an oval pot (roughly 3 qt.) made in China, that I got from Cost Plus several years ago. I did have to glue the knob onto the lid with JB Weld, because it was knurled brass stuck down into iron and it came loose whenever the iron got hot enough.
I even found a white Copco skillet at the mall on Foothill near the boundary of Monrovia and Arcadia (CA) for $8, and didn't get it just because I'm 'way overstocked.
re: Will Owen
One note to Will:
You might want to stop into Home Depot and get yourself a lead tester. An amazing amount of dishware that's not made in tne US--things people pick up in Asia, South America, and even Europe--has large amounts of lead in it. I'm not usually a stickler for these things, and I hate to sound like an alarmist.
But if you're cooking or microwaving it for long periods of time, I'd be careful. It's such a little thing to do to make sure you're not cooking with lead (esp. if you have children around). Then again, perhaps you've already done all this and I'm just being a nag.
Could the Berndes line fit this person's needs? Berndes mimics cast iron cooking but without the weight. They are not enameled but I believe they have a non-stick coating. They used to be sold by Williams Sonoma years ago, but I admit I have very little personal experience with the brand, but perhaps another chowhounder can speak upon it. Not a particularly cheap line, but if you want iron-like performance without the weight, it may be worth investigating.
Le Creuset is my favorite, for a couple of reasons. They have a great range of sizes. Now, I'm cooking for two and I know that as my family grows, I'll still be able to use the smaller pots (dutch oven) for smaller meals. Someone gave us a multi-function LC--with a handle and a saucepan that doubles as a lid--and we use it all the time. I have never had better luck frying an egg than with the saucepan, plus, as another poster mentioned, deglazing a LC is a beautiful thing to watch. You can see your sauce get a gorgeous velvet texture. We use them so frequently that because of limited counter space, we put them back on the stove to dry after washing, and then use them again the next day! This eliminates hauling them from the closet to the stove, plus, they look so good!
I recommend them, and you can get great deals at the LC outlet stores. I believe you can find one in your area on the LC website. They also have discontinued colors and many more sizes at the outlets than your local retailer can carry.
I LOVE my LC dutch oven...I use it almost everyday it seems. I don't put it away...it stays on our stove because ...well...what's the point? We'll just have to take it out tomorrow.
If the weight of your cookware is an important issue for you, then Le Creuset may not be the one for you to buy. It is heavy.
I do love the stuff though. I have quite a few pieces, and use it practically everyday. Over the years, I have gotten used to the weight. I will say that there have been times when I have used my very large frying pan, which is 12", and am scraping the food onto a plate and have to hold the pan up while doing this, it has been too heavy for me to manage by myself. I have had to call my husband into the room and have him hold it for me.
But, even though this cookware is heavy, I love it and would not want to use anything else. I think it's the best.
My Copco 5 and 7 qt dutch ovens and Le Creuset Lasagna pan and 2 qt dutch oven are some of my favorite pots for over 30 years for stove and oven braises. (Along with my Magnalite oval and baking/lasagna pan and cast iron skillets; Corningware for the microwave, Farber for boiling stuff, heavy non-stick aluminum like Club for small skillets). I'm a big man and don't mind the weight. When I sold housewares at Macy's back in the 60's,. the top we carried were leCreuset, Copco, Magnalite, and Farberware. Farber for ease of care and saucepans, enameled cast iron if you didn't mind the weight.