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Jan 10, 2008 01:27 PM

Le Creuset for Xmas

I know it has its fans who have already posted on the topic, but wanted to share my experience with a new Le Creuset, and let anyone who has doubted its advantages that this is one great Dutch oven...

A little background. I've always been a fan of the slow cooked...whether is is short ribs, lamb shanks, osso buco, etc. For years, I've used a perfectly adequate, fairly heavy 8 quart Calphalon pot, and been happy with it, but have heard here and in other places about the revelation that is enameled cast iron, so for Xmas, asked my wife for yet another kitchen toy (along with a Thermapen, but I'll save that for another post.) I told her not to make a big deal about it, just a simple Tarmontia (sp?) or a Lodge for $40-50 bucks, not a $200+ top-of-the-line deal.

So my wife goes a-looking, and notices that every inexpensive enameled cast iron pot is <*gasp*> made in China (isn't everything?), and she, being a bit neurotic, is convinced that instead of iron, it must be made of lead, since clearly they are trying to kill us all, so she pops for the 9-quart Le Creuset (Ouch, $264 at, but at least shipping was free! Given the weight of this thing, I could see where that's a big plus...its probably going to have to come on a flat-bed semi, strapped down, all by it self.)

Now already I've got a bit of a bad taste in my mouth due to the cost, not to mention my Italian heritage...many Italians think the French are kinda like Italians, but in a genetically determined and permanent bad mood, so here I am with a horribly expensive frenchie pot!?!?

So I now own it (no way I'm goona be able to afford the truck it's gonna take to send it back, anyway) so I might as well try this thing out. Holy c**p, it it amazing! First, it browns like nothing I've ever seen before, and at lower temps on the stove. Get this baby warmed up, and look out! And, it seems like less splatter too, maybe because it's pumping heat into the meat so efficiently...I don't know.

All the other stuff goes in, and the whole shebang goes into the oven. The lamb shank recipe calls for 400 degrees for 4 hours!?!? . I'm thinking this is way too hot, and way to long, and I'm gonna have either a hot lamb slurppie, or meat (or rather, what is left of it) with the texture of a Wheatabix. (As an aside, the nob on the lid is only rated to 375, but can be unscrewed and replaced, so I'm going for it, but with a wad of aluminum foil wrapped over it for psychological security)

The result? Juicy, succulent...perfect.

But the pot is all kinds of splattered, inside above the liquid line , and down the outsides where it bubbled over and ran much for the looks of this pot that cost as much as the monthly payment on my first car.

And the sucker wipes clean, no problem!

So, bottom line, I love this pot. And I'm glad my wife is neurotic. If you are considering whether it's worth the price, I'd say yes. And I was a serious doubter.


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  1. It's a good thing you love it! That's great :) I got the 7.5qt dutch oven for Christmas but haven't put it in the oven yet. I tend to use mine on the stovetop.

    Loved your review.

    1. Ah Chef Boy...

      You have now been inducted into the club.

      The only downside is... betcha can't stop at one ; )

      4 Replies
      1. re: Jennalynn

        I know what you mean - I just got my first one for Christmas (the 5.5 qt) and I'm hooked. I went looking for more yesterday!

        1. re: ms. clicquot

          Welcome to the cult. I, too, was a terrible doubter, sticking resolutely to old-fashioned, uncoated cast iron and limping along with crappy hard anodized. My sister had a couple of pieces and sang their praises, but I jeered at her consumerist need to own the most expensive pots on the market. Then, I found a couple of small pieces on sale for 75% off at a department store. Now I'm hooked. I had to go out and buy a new multi-shelf wire rack for my kitchen to store it all. I bought two pieces for my college-kid nephew for Christmas--I figure they'l outlast any other gift I ever give him, and he'll think of me in 50 years whenever he makes a roast.

          You simply MUST go online and find the nearest LC outlet store, call it and get on the preferred mailing list. You'll get killer sale coupons in the mail 3-4x a year, usually including free shipping. The Christmas sale was 30% everything in the store, on top of the already reduced outlet prices. Don't forget to troll the housewares aisles at TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, and Marshall's, where you will find the occasional piece at deep, deep discounts. I picked up a cute apple-shaped tarte tatin pan and a big, dual-handled bistro pan for less than $150 recently.

          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            It's my go to wedding gift... whether they registered for one or not ; )

            A 7qt round.

        2. re: Jennalynn

          Consider me a LC addict too. I now have 4 in different sizes, and the one that I get the most use out of is the 5.5 qt. round. On the stove or in the oven, it gives me such pleasure to use these things.

          Worth every penny (especially if you ask for them for birthday gifts!).

          Another suggestion, check Ebay. There are often good deals to be found.

        3. I'm going to add longevity to the string of praises. I am currently using a round and an oval dutch oven that my father bought for my mother almost 50 years ago as well as a frying pan and a saucepan that came as part of a set I received as a wedding gift in 1967. When I was divorced and we were dividing housewares one bone of contention was who would get the Le Cruset so we ended up splitting up the set.

          1. Oh Boy, your post prompted me to head into the kitchen and make a count. Uh-Oh. First disclaimer: I've been collecting LC for a long time; #2, I have given away more than I personally own at this moment.
            Nevertheless .... I counted 27 pieces (actual cooking vessels, NOT including lids) and feel a serious need for a local meeting of LCAnon.

            Of course I wouldn't have so much if LC wasn't seriously wonderful cookware. There are a couple of pieces more than 40 years old and going strong. FWIT, I no longer remember which pieces were seconds and it is impossible to tell. All have been used extensively and are still on the line, some on a daily basis.

            I lament the passing of their "chicken fryer". It was useless for frying chicken but the wide, shallow shape with long handle mimics a LC rondeau and rocks!

            Welcome to the club!

            11 Replies
            1. re: Sherri

              whew...i feel a lot better about my 9 pieces now! LOL

              I"ve been trying to convince my sister to let me get her some for years....she kept resisting and resisting. For Christmas my mom got both her and myself the 8qt piece that Costco was selling....sister has used it so many times already and has been asking me about a smaller one now. I think she's converted.

              Definitely great stuff. Definitely check out the outlet if you have one near you...most of my pieces are seconds from the outlets...I saved a ton of money.

              1. re: ziggylu

                "FWIT, I no longer remember which pieces were seconds and it is impossible to tell. All have been used extensively and are still on the line, some on a daily basis."
                Ziggylu, you & I are both in the Phx area; my car knows the way to the outlet at Anthem. Their discount coupons are terrific; the before Christmas 30% off the already reduced prices prompted a buy-a-thon. My husband joked that they would be sending a limo for my next trip.

                1. re: Sherri

                  I didn't buy anything when the last card came. I wanted to but can't justify another piece right now! If only sister had decided before Christmas she loved this stuff!

                  I work at one of the local kitchen shops...even with my generous discount I do better picking up seconds combined with the promotional sales at the outlet. I sell a lot of this stuff at work of course...and I always feel guilty not pointing customers toward the outlet.

                  27 pieces! Do you have multiples of sizes in different colors or all they all different sizes?!

                  1. re: ziggylu

                    I have six of those wonderful small gratin dishes, individual bakers that work so well for small supper parties so I don't have to cut portions at serving time. The rest run the gamut from pate terrine to fry pan to the aforementioned chicken fryer to multiple oval gratins to roasting pan to doufeus to a braiser lots of round and oval dutch ovens.

                    I'm not shot with the fry pan and rarely use it; got talked into it by a zealous salesperson and this would be my single disappointment. I prefer plain cast iron or some of my French copper beauties to the LC. I'll save this for one of the kids.

                    1. re: Sherri

                      I'm not a fan of the skillet either. I have a grill pan too I bought last year and don't like it much. I've been considering putting it in the good will pile...

                      What do you do with your pate terrine? I've been trying to justify this and a tart tatin piece...

                      I haven't tried any of the do you compare it to Emile Henry?

                      (hope I wasn't the overzealous salesperson!)

                      1. re: ziggylu

                        my sister was who got me into the LC addiction! We went to the outlet around thanksgiving time and she was buying herself a new pot. I said "why don't we buy one for each other for Christmas?" as this was a good rationalization for getting myself one and who was she to complain since she was already shelling out the money.

                        The more I looked around, the more I realized what a fabulous deal it was (30%off seconds pricing) and convinced dh to get me 3 more as my Christmas present. I have 2.5 and 3.5 buffet casseroles which can second as frying pans, and then 3.5 and 7.5 qt round ovens. I'm wishing for the 5.5qt round next because I think that is the size I would actually use most for spaghetti sauces and pots of curries.

                        1. re: ziggylu

                          I don't have any LC stoneware, only Emile Henry -- and some of that is so old that it required milk pre-soaking before first use! It's still great, though.

                          My son has a piece of the LC enameled steel that has disappointed him. It's developing a hot spot on the bottom. Saleswoman at SLT told him the "lifetime" LC warranty doesn't apply to this product.

                          The pate terrine is used for small loaves of bread, baked pasta & meatloaf for two, which isn't very far from its intended use, as well as a variety of hot & cold pates and terrines. I think I remember a thread on this not long ago ......... wish I knew how to capture it for you.

                          Oops - just realized that I missed a piece. There's a fluted baking dish that I use for tartes & quiche. Makes the count 28. Ouch.

                          (Ziggylu, you couldn't have been the overzealous salesperson unless you lived in the Washington DC area about twenty years ago.)

                          1. re: Sherri

                            "Ziggylu, you couldn't have been the overzealous salesperson unless you lived in the Washington DC area about twenty years ago.)"

                            whew! wipes brow in relief! :-)

                            mmm...I think I need to get the pate terrine...must remember when the next sale rolls around.

                            I love my Emile Henri too...a lot! most of mine is honey colored which they dont' make anymore. I'm thinking about adding some of the new fig color though. I just bought the flame top tagine which does require soaking like the old stuff...

                            warneral my 3.5 buffet is my most favorite piece. I use it all the time!

                            1. re: Sherri

                              In my opinion, enameled steel is a whole different animal than enameled cast iron. I honestly don't know why they (le creuset) even *make* enameled steel. It seems so chinsy (sp?)

                  2. re: Sherri

                    They still make a 3.75qt Covered Deep Skillet that they call the "Chicken Fryer". It is available through one of their new flagship stores in Nashville or Charleston. The flagship stores actually carry a better selection than the outlets; colors, shapes, and sizes you won't find elsewhere. The BIG plus is that the flagship stores honor the same sales as the outlets and have free shipping year round if you spend over $100.

                    1. re: SellerKiP

                      The BIG plus of the outlet stores is that they carry "seconds"... which have some small thing that is cosmetic but does not affect the cook-ability. Those are at a very very steep discount and usually are included in any sales as well.