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Sell me on Le Creuset

There have been quite a few posts recently on Le Creuset dutch ovens and cookware in general. I'd love to know what it is about this particular line that is so appealing (other than the label and the colors-- I do love the colors). I use a fairly inexpensive Lodge dutch oven and it's great-- the dark surface browns food like nothing else. I'm not down on pricey pots and pans-- I do love my All-Clad saucepans. I'm just not sure what the benefits of enamel cookware are--it doesn't seem to wear that well (or maybe my mother just didn't care for hers properly). Do tell...

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  1. The only benefits of enamelled cast iron over cast iron is that it never rusts and doesn't have to be seasoned. If you have a well-seasoned cast iron pot, it won't rust and it'll be just as good as an enamelled pot. Some will claim that the enamel surface releases better so for frying eggs, say, it is as good as teflon. Again, if you have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet I don't see any reason to get an expensive LC pan.

    1. I agree with the previous post. The only thing that I can add is that certain high acid food might react with cast iron but that doesn't seem to be a problem with you. Like you, I find cast iron brown food better than enamel. I have a few pieces of LC but only use the casserole and the oval for braising. I find the other pieces a bit clunky. LC are beautifully made and with all those colors but some of the popularity is dued their great marketing.

      1. I have both Le Creuset and Lodge cast iron cookware, and have used both for 30 odd years. The LC is nice to bring to the table. I never could understand why my Mother got rid of her cast iron in her later years, but am beginning to catch on now, as arthritis begins to set in and the large dutch oven gets harder to shift when full . . .

        1. I'd add that LC is (in my experience) a lot easier to clean and care for. As cheryl h says, it doesn't have to be seasoned--or re-seasoned--and when you're finished washing it (usually very easy with a nylon scrubber) you don't have to dry it to guard against rust.

          1. I think I'm a bit lazy, but I find my LC to be really easy to cook with & clean. I have a cast iron pan, and I don't know if I've never seasoned it right or what, but it bugs the heck out of me. What I really like is looking at discount stores for LC stuff--sometimes scratched/chipped, but who cares when it's half off?

            We have Marshall's out here (Seattle), but I'd bet places like SteinMart, TJ Maxx, etc would also have housewares. I have an LC dutch oven that I got at Marshall's for about $30--it has a scratch in the enamel, but I've used it for 2 years, and I figure I've more than gotten my money's worth!

            1. If you like cast iron, use it. If it bothers you that you can't clean it with soap or dobies then that can be a problem. If the seasoning comes off, or if your cast iron starts to rust, that's another problem. If none of these things happen, then continue to use your cast iron. If making tomatoes or somethign with wine, acidic stuff, is a problem, then cast iron can't be used. It all depends on what you want to do and what your tolerance level is. Le Creuset is expensive compared to cast iron, the pans with the black enamel in the center work very well for most things. My experience has been that Le Creuset (and all the other painted baked enamel pans) work wonderfully for stews that you can simmer for hours on top of the stove or for hours in the stove; they will blacken steaks and produce crispy fish surface, nice and browned, and you can cook tomato sauces and wine sauces in them to your heart's content. So they're both good; it depends on what you want. Both will last a long long time. The cast iron does rerquire more care, that's all.

              1. I think the reactive properties of cast iron do interfere with many cooking needs. I think cast iron is good as a skillet for browning, but for a dutch oven, enamel glaze is the way to go.
                They are expensive though, but I think you only need a dutch oven. I don't have one yet, but it is on my wish list. In flame.
                They are heavy, so you probably won't be using them in your old age.

                1. There was a recent thread about purchasing LC on EBay. There is also Copco which is outstanding and there are many pieces on EBay. I use both types, regular cast iron (mainly skillets) and enameled. I find they have different uses and both work for what they are designed to do.

                  1. Hi everyone. Thanks for the input. I agree about reactivity and cleaning, but I still think I get basically the same results with my large round bottomed All-Clad which also does double-duty as a sauce pan. Maybe I'll troll for one on E-bay and do some experimenting myself...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Procrastibaker

                      See this caked-on mess from braising short ribs for 3 hours?

                      It came off in 5 seconds w/ minimal elbow grease thanks to Le Creuset. Cooks beautifully, fries beautifully, and very importantly...cleans beautifully. I use it more than any other pan/pot these days.

                    2. Funny, I'm still using some rather old enameled ironware from primo manufacturer Iwachu(makers of those exquisite cast-iron Japanese teapots)who collaborated with Copco to make a line that sold mainly in Japan 10+ years ago. Heavier than the usual Copco and closer to Descoware and Creuset, these came in paintbox colours(fun actually)and proved to be tough as nails. Creuset I have has discoloured slightly inside(natural)but still looks good, cooks great, and has virtuially no hot spots--the great advantage of heavy cast-iron in my view. I'm not into utensils-as-decor as many friends are, so discoloured interiors in my Creuset simply mean I cook more than they do.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Kagemusha

                        I agree with Kagemusha - LC can discolor with time both inside and the bottom. It also chips. However, like others have stated it is easy to clean. If your bigger Dutch oven pots are Lodge - keep them instead of buying the larger LC ones. I find I use my smaller LC more. However, if you are looking they are on sale at this time of year everywhere. I have also seen them at Tuesday Morning and Marshalls. Check out Amazon.com. They are always having sales on LC of one color or size. They don't charge postage for things over $25 and there is no tax when shipping to California either.

                      2. Here's a question regarding Le Creuset (if this should be posted elsewhere, please let me know) -- I was given a 2.5 quart la marmite, which is sort of a small sloped-side shape. It's blue (although I really wanted flame) and I want to use it more.

                        Mom gave it to me since I live on my own and really have no use for a huge 5 quart round. But I find I don't use it often because it's on the small side. If anyone out there has a marmite, I'd love to hear what you like cooking in it.

                        1. I purchased a set last summer and one of the items started to fall apart. I heard some cracking while I was melting some butter and the pot was completely disintegrating. I sent it back for warranty and now 5 MONTHS LATER I have still not received a replacement. I am told that my blue color is on backorder and I will just have to wait. I am very disappointed with the company.

                          1. Expensive.
                            Le Creuset.
                            Have had a few pieces for over thirty years.
                            My wife just bought the $200 deep 12" saute pan 4.5 quart with a cover, very heavy, from Williams Sonoma exclusively and is inspired to cook many dishes now from Bittman's How To Cook Everything.
                            The best for starting a dish on top of the stove,. putting it in the oven and finishing it, putting it in the refrigerator, and re-heating it the next day.
                            Not to say that an All Clad pan, which we've also had for thirty-odd years, isn't great also.

                            1. If you want an enameled dutch oven, I would go with the Mario Batali. It should be well under $100. New Le Creuset is way overpriced. Looking on Ebay is another good suggestion, but the shipping could be expensive.

                              1. I love my Le Creuset dutch oven for all the reasons enumerated above, but I only buy the seconds from our local Le Creuset outlet. Otherwise, I too think it is over priced.

                                1. I bought an entire set in 1982 and every piece is still going strong. By the way, I cook three meals a day. They may be more expensive, but they last an eternity. And, as Eclectic Eater said, they are marvelous to start cooking in (say browning meat), finish in the oven, transfer to the frig when cool, and then re-heat stove top the next day. I love the colors too.

                                  1. I bought a Staub 5.5 qt. and saved a boatload. To date, I have been VERY happy with the quality.

                                    1. I have a very old le Creuset oval skillet . I have used it alot on an electric coil stove and a gas range. Now I have a new smooth top range and am wondering if others out there use their le Creuset on a smooth top. I am not sure if it would be suitable with the ridge on the outer bottom edge of the skillet. What do you think?