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Le Creuset: which shape and size?

bombaybeauty Apr 14, 2008 04:56 AM

I have been reading past threads on getting a good set of kitchenware, and have gathered the bottom line is not to go with one-brand sets but to put together a mixed set of essentials.

To wit, two questions about Le Creuset.

Other than shape, is there a difference between the "soup pot" and different sized "ovens". I ask because I often make soup, but thought it could useful to have something bigger than the 2.75 quart size I found in the soup pot. Is it appropriate to use one of the oven sizes/shapes to make soup? Basically I am asking whether only the size and shape varies, and how seriously to take the named designation.

Related questions: the Le Creuset skillets have an enamel cooking surface, rather than cast iron? So they would not be the same as a cast iron skillet? How does a LC skillet compare to a well-seasoned cast iron?

Thanks for your time and suggestions.

BB

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  1. Robin Joy RE: bombaybeauty Apr 14, 2008 05:59 AM

    My LC skillets have had a non-stick rather than enamel interior and never lasted very well, so I gave up on them some years ago. Now mainly use Tefal/supermarket products and replace as needed.

    As for the casserole pots, all you need to know is that you will never, never have the right size for the dish you are preparing! I covet the 34cm. round casserole (down from £200 to £140 in one place) but my wife's having none of it. Ho hum.

    1. g
      grant.cook RE: bombaybeauty Apr 14, 2008 07:32 AM

      I have a LC 5.5 qt oven, and have made soup for larger parties - 4 to 12 - in it well. I also use it for braising a lot for smaller group dinner or personal stuff. I think I'd have a hard time making due with a 2.75 as a "single" oven to own - seems a bit small - you'd be limited to cooking only for 1-2 and having no leftovers. They might call the 2.75 a soup pot because you aren't going to be able to cook much else inside it.

      No difference that I know of, other than capacity. The oval ones might be a bit better for things like chickens, which could fit a bit more easily inside.

      1. h
        heypielady RE: bombaybeauty Apr 14, 2008 07:46 AM

        I don't know what style my Creuset is but the capacity is 7 qt and I make soup, stews, and braise short ribs in it. I have a tiny city apartment kitchen but I would never trade down for a smaller creuset. I love it.

        I also have Creuset's version of a cast iron. Loads of CHers will tell you do just use a regular cast iron and season it yourself because its so much cheaper than getting LC's version. That's true.

        But mine was a present so I don't really care that a cast iron is cheaper. You can use LC's just like a cast iron. The interior is not enamel but I wouldn't consider it "non-stick" I just made rib-eye steaks in it this weekend and they came out awesome. Sear it on the stovetop for five minutes flip it and finish it off in the oven.

        I agree that you don't need the whole LC line. But those two items are great.

        2 Replies
        1. re: heypielady
          bombaybeauty RE: heypielady Apr 14, 2008 08:01 AM

          Thanks all - very helpful - then I'll pick based on the size and price and not the label of oven versus soup pot.

          Given that this is a present to myself, I think I'll go with a regular cast iron and season.

          I'll be finalizing my list and posting for critiquing soon!

          Thanks,

          BB

          1. re: bombaybeauty
            h
            Hungry Celeste RE: bombaybeauty Apr 14, 2008 08:13 AM

            I don't like the bottom style of the soup pot....and the french ovens are good, but my absolute favorite LC style is called the risotto pot. Extra-wide bottom with lower sides makes it perfect for my native style of pot cooking--practically everything starts with a roux, and the dimensions of this pot are great for roux-making. No need to make a roux in a separate skillet then transfer it to the pot, so it saves one dirty dish. I also dig the buffet casseroles--I treat them like lidded skillets, for the most part. The buffet casseroles (also sometimes called bistro pans) are great for braised/southern-style slow cooked veggies.

            The satin-enamel skillets are pretty good, though the surface does need a little seasoning before it is really great to cook on. It is an improvement over uncoated cast iron, to me, because it is easier to clean & won't rust.

        2. j
          jzerocsk RE: bombaybeauty Apr 14, 2008 08:02 AM

          The names are purely decorative as far as the actual usage (that is to say, there is no technical reason you can't make soup in the french oven or braise something in the soup pot).

          The actual difference is that the french oven has a large bottom (the bottom is about the same size as the the lid and relatively straight sides. The soup pot has a small bottom and curved, flaring sides sort of like a wok. Their marketing materials claim that the design of the soup pot is intended to minimize the corner between the bottom and side where ingredients can get trapped.

          I have a 4.5 qt soup pot and I really love it. Until I got a 2.25 qt "Buffet Casserole," it was probably the most oft-used pot I have. The soup pot does have some limitations, though. For example, the small bottom doesn't give you much surface area to work with if you want to brown something - I once had a bright idea to brown my meatballs right in the soup pot and then make the sauce in the soup pot as well. Except I could only fit 3 or 4 meatballs at a time on the bottom of the soup pot! I also would have some reservations about doing a braise or a pot roast in the soup pot because the shape would would impact the amount of liquid vs. the depth (at a depth of 2", the soup pot would have less liquid than a french oven of the same capacity).

          Based on my experience with a 4.5qt soup pot, I think the 2.75 would not be all that useful and if you can't get a larger soup pot, you would probably be happier with a larger oven. For some reason the mid-sized 4.5qt is not listed on the LC website so perhaps they only make the 2.75 and the massive 7+qt bouillabaise.

          Regarding the skillet surface, it's not as non-stick as well-seasoned cast iron. It will take on a seasoning of sorts over time (and you can help the process along in much the same way you can cast iron), and with practice you can do pretty well with it, but I don't think it ever gets as non-stick as cast iron with good seasoning. I do like my LC skillet, but I still have to keep a non-stick skillet for some things. I don't have a plain cast iron skillet....yet.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jzerocsk
            bombaybeauty RE: jzerocsk Apr 14, 2008 11:02 AM

            Brilliant thanks. This really helps! BB

          2. r
            RGC1982 RE: bombaybeauty Apr 14, 2008 06:10 PM

            I use the 5 quart round Dutch oven for soup all the time (may be 5.5) , and it is enough for at least two meals for 3-4 people. I'd go a little bigger, but not smaller. I have a 3.5 quart and rarely use it, so 2.75 is really small for that purpose. I also use it for meatballs and sauce, osso bucco, and stews and other braises.

            1. s
              sobriquet RE: bombaybeauty Apr 15, 2008 03:17 PM

              You seem like a nice person, so I'll give you the best advice I can. Avoid Le Creuset skillets. Avoid them like the plague. They're strictly for masochists who enjoy scrubbing. They have a satin black finish inside that is vastly inferior to their original enamel coating.

              The Le Creuset pots and brasiers have the older enamel that actually cleans up easily and is a joy to use. You can't really go wrong with any of them, but some are more useful than others. If you were only to get a few pieces, I'd recommend a buffet casserole (aka brasier) in your desired size and a dutch oven. I have a few and usually reach for either the original 5.5qt round or a 6.75qt oval. I'd probably recommend the oval over the round for its increased bottom surface area for searing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sobriquet
                Robin Joy RE: sobriquet Apr 16, 2008 01:15 AM

                Glad I'm not the only one to dislike LC non-stick. This must be the same skillet finish as I was referring to in my earlier reply. Mine went wooly/crumbly pretty quickly and I'll not bother again.

              2. c
                chioggia RE: bombaybeauty Apr 15, 2008 05:50 PM

                I love my 7qt round dutch oven. I like to have lots of extra room so I can make big batches of soup and stews, and freeze half. It's great for baking bread in, too.

                3 Replies
                1. re: chioggia
                  bombaybeauty RE: chioggia Apr 16, 2008 12:54 AM

                  Thanks, both. This is very helpful! Indeed I'm going to avoid the skillet and instead buy a cast iron skillet (which I don't have yet) and keep a non-stick (Swiss Diamond, which I bought a while back and is going strong). I'm concluding that I'll go only for 2 LC pieces, both with a goodish size to cover most situations.... BB

                  1. re: bombaybeauty
                    Robin Joy RE: bombaybeauty Apr 16, 2008 01:10 AM

                    This may help BB. Train arrives 100 yards away (Portsmouth Harbour Station) and you could easily save the fare if you are buying a few bits, but they may well courier if you ask. I visited last month which is when I saw the big pots I mentioned in my earlier reply. They had four in stock from Germany and they're not normally available in the UK.

                    http://www.gunwharf-quays.com/Shop_De...

                    1. re: Robin Joy
                      bombaybeauty RE: Robin Joy Apr 16, 2008 03:33 AM

                      Great tip - thanks! BB

                2. s
                  sobriquet RE: bombaybeauty Apr 17, 2008 10:58 PM

                  May I ask why you want a cast iron skillet? The only time I ever reach for a cast iron skillet is when I want to sear meat. I see that you're a vegetarian, so that's not a concern.

                  Maybe you should consider All-Clad for your skillet needs? Cookware & More has amazing prices on irregular All-Clad pieces that have the most minor of cosmetic flaws. I'd recommend both the brand and that merchant.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: sobriquet
                    bombaybeauty RE: sobriquet Apr 17, 2008 11:56 PM

                    Interesting and good question! I have so many friends that wax eloquent about their decade(s) old beautifully seasoned cast-iron skillets that I thought it was time for me to have one too! For vegetarian food I have seen them used to roast vegetables and they work great for any recipes that call for a stove top to oven transition, which I've seen done with some vegetables (e.g., I can think of some Indian eggplant dishes that would be wonderful) and rice dishes. Of course you can also do this with the LC cast iron I'm planning to get, so I suppose it is an issue of size/shape (back to that!) and the fact that the cooking surface eventually becomes nearly-non-stick without the teflon... Just my thoughts, but delighted to hear other thoughts on why/if a vegetarian needs a cast iron skillet. Cheers, BB

                    1. re: bombaybeauty
                      h
                      Hungry Celeste RE: bombaybeauty Apr 18, 2008 12:43 PM

                      Why does a vegetarian need a cast iron skillet? To make excellent cornbread, or a good roux, or pineapple-upside down cake. Considering that a pre-seasoned Lodge 10" costs all of $12-15, why not buy one?

                      1. re: Hungry Celeste
                        s
                        sobriquet RE: Hungry Celeste Apr 18, 2008 02:32 PM

                        I stand corrected. Just to note, though, that my All-Clad goes from the stove top to oven all the time for pan roasting.

                        I think it just boils down to the fact that I'm too cleaning obsessive not to scrub off the seasoning that makes regular cast iron pans work. I know better... but I just can't help myself. lol

                        I actually have a Le Creuset grill pan that I hardly use because I can't ever seem to clean it properly.

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste
                          MMRuth RE: Hungry Celeste Apr 18, 2008 02:33 PM

                          Also to make Tarte Tatin!

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