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Nov 28, 2006 04:29 PM

Le Creuset: how am I supposed to cook anything?

I bought a Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart French oven. I was reading the directions, and it said not to boil anything over high heat or use it in the oven above 350C. It said the enamel can crack or chip if I do that. Now how am I supposed to cook just about anything, from getting a sear on a roast to bringing soup to a quick boil prior to simmer if I'm not supposed to use high heat? Do any owners of Le Creuset enameled cast iron cookware have anecdotal comments about their experience, and whether they've had their enamel last successfully even using high heat? If so, I'd like to hear them, because I don't want to risk chipping or cracking on such an expensive piece of cookware, and I'd like to know how safely high in temperature I can use it.

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    1. Go to --

      You can safely cook up tp 450 degrees F -- go to the recipe site, ask people who have them for recipes, soon you will be hooked --- enjoy!

      2 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          ooops - thanks for the correction -- T

      1. When I started purchasing high end cookware- AllClad and the Clad Cuisinart lines- i too was surprised to be told repeatedly not to cook over high heat.

        After a bit of practice, I came to realize it is because the pans are crafted so you never have to. The clad pans work by optimising heat conduction accross the entire cooking surface- no hot spots or cool spots- so even over medium heat, if you let the pan heat up first, you can get excellent browning. Le Crueset and other enameled cookware behave essentially like cast iron cookware- they take and hold heat- if you get your French Oven nice and hot, it will cook everything nice and evenly.

        Even when searing steaks of braising shortribs, I rarely find myself going beyond medium-high and almost never above 350 in the oven, either- there's only so high you can heat water-containing foods before you're just boiling them! Tht said, I'm treating yself toa good roasting pan and new dutchoven this holiday season- I will likely go Clad for the pan, but I can't wait for a good enameled dutch oven!

        1 Reply
        1. re: lunchbox

          All-Clad says the pans without the nonstick coating are oven-safe up to 500 degrees. I put mine under the gas broiler on the highest setting with no ill effects. Stainless steel, that's what the oven racks are made of.

        2. I just had the enamel chip on my enamel-on-steel stock pot and it really made me annoyed. We were just sauteing onions in olive oil over medium/medium high electric heat for a minute and-- pop! Maybe our electric stove is unusually hot but still. It's made me think LC is just finicky, which is a shame because I love that pot. I absolutely love my Lodge dutch oven. This has been discussed a bunch on CH, but IMO you'll never get carmelization like you do in the Lodge for a fraction of the price of LC. Of course, it's not as pretty...

          4 Replies
          1. re: Procrastibaker

            Can you deglaze a cast iron pan with wine? That's my concern with cooking with unenamelled cast iron. Also, I want to make a paella in my cast iron skillet but I'm concerned the tomato paste might be too acidic. Any thoughts?

            1. re: ctl98

              Good questions. I think that in a well-seasoned cast iron tomatoes and wine are no problem, esp. since there is usually something fatty in the pan with these items (olive oil, meats). I almost always make tomato sauces in my Griswold cast iron. I just made some fantastic chicken thighs in my Lodge dutch oven-- just sauteed some sweet potatoes and shallots, then seared the thighs, threw in some sprigs of fresh herbs, salt, pepper, about 1/2 c. of vermouth (didn't have any wine, for a change) and about 1/2 c. of stock. Cooked it in a 400 degree oven for an hour and, voila, delicious one-pot meal. That said, certain foods are probably too acidic for the cast iron-- my husband did Scandinavian red cabbage (lots of vinegar, no fat) in an under-seasoned CI pan at my in-laws and it reacted and was nasty.

              1. re: Procrastibaker

                "- my husband did Scandinavian red cabbage (lots of vinegar, no fat) in an under-seasoned CI pan at my in-laws and it reacted and was nasty."

                But would the results have been any different if the pan had a more deeply developed seasoning?

            2. re: Procrastibaker

              It's also, made in China ( Lodges enameled line)

            3. I'm just scared that paella with the tomatoes and the rice would make one big mess and I will never be able to scrape the rice off the bottom of my lodge skillet. You think I should give it a try?

              Oops, meant to reply ot procrastibaker...

              1 Reply
              1. re: ctl98

                This may be incredibly naive but isn't one beauty of cast iron that you could, if you chose, simply burn it off over a flame?