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Le Creuset grill pan - anyone use theirs?

I've had one for a few years that just sits there. It works really well, but i've found the black satin finish inside almost impossible to clean. Does anyone have one that they use on a regular basis? Is there a trick to this I don't know? I don't have any problem with the older, regular Le Creuset enamel, but this black satin finish is the bane of my kitchen existence.

I'm right on the edge of getting one of those inexpensive nonstick Calphalon grill pans that America's Test Kitchen seems to love so much.

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  1. I find all grill pans hard to clean. I regularly use my Le Creuset, as well as my Tim Love Collection model. This is in addition to my double-size cast iron model that flips to a griddle. I only use the grill side on the cast iron, and never the griddle side because I have another griddle I prefer to use.

    The LC is a bit hard to clean, but I found if you soak it for a short time in hot, soapy water (not too long, as the pan itself is cast iron), and then use a stiff plastic brush, it gets decently clean. I also have a press with this pan, so as of late, I am using it mostly for paninis, and they are never hard to clean. The Tim Love pan and press is something I purchase from HSN in a moment of weakness, and it has a similar finish. I tend to use this one for grilling thicker items because the sides are a little higher, and when you use the press, meats tend to cook through a bit better. I clean this with a short soak to start too. The cast iron one gets no soaking and a wire grill brush treatment. I even flipped it over on top of my outdoor grill to burn some of the crud off one day (I wouldn't do this with the LC or TLC), and then scrubbed it to remove a lot of baked-on gunk. I had to re-season, but it did the trick.

    I think you just need to get used to the fact that it just will never be perfect, and just enjoy your pan. Try to avoid things with sugar, such as marinades with honey or sauces -- they are the the worst to remove.

    2 Replies
    1. re: RGC1982

      The problem is my favorite marinade recipe includes honey. BBQ sauce would have the same problem if you wanted to do burgers (haven't tried this before).

      1. re: RGC1982

        Just got the LC reversible double grill/griddle (satin finish), haven't cooked on it yet, trying to figure it all out....

        I've read elsewhere not to wash with soap & water but many here say that's what they do - ???

        If you're not supposed to use soap & water, how to I avoid pancakes that taste like hamburger grease?

        The surface is sort of rough/bumpy. Wiping with paper towel or dish towel leaves behind lint or fuzz. Dry in the oven only?

        I started to season it according to what I've read on other chowhound boards & elsewhere ....it now has a cloudy, slightly sticky film (I used lard). Is this normal? Is it ready to cook on?

      2. I quit using mine. It's the only pan in my kitchen that's difficult to clean. I bought it thinking it would be nice to be able to grill some fruit after dinner without lighting the big gas grill outside but it's not worth it...a 2 minute cooking job shouldn't be a difficult clean up effort.

        Haven't used any other grill pans to recommend one as an alternative.

        1. i rarely use it -- and never (Never!) with ground meat (burgers). only steaks, chicken or grilled sandwiches. i use oil rubbed on it with a paper towel -- or misted with my trusty "misto" sprayer (love it!). http://www.misto.com/store/merchant.m...

          to clean, i let it soak in the dry sink with warm soapy water -- added while pan is still warm. non-stick scrubby, lightly applied, cleans it fine and works around the ridges easily.

          1. I love my LC grill pan! I use it for steaks, pork chops, fish AND burgers. After cooking I sprinkle in some baking soda followed by hot water, let it soak overnight, turn the heat on for a bit then scrub with just a green scrubby pad and really haven't had too much difficulty getting it clean. I don't worry much about how the outside of it looks.
            When using it I let it preheat gradually to blazing hot, quickly oil with a paper towel and in goes the food!

            6 Replies
            1. re: OCEllen

              I love mine too - though I'm not sure that mine has this "satin finish". I use it for fish, meat (steaks just tonight), grilled vegetables, and then just clean with paper towels and kosher salt.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Mine has sort of a semi-gloss finish. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that, in fact, the cast iron was coated with a thin layer of temperature resistant glass which explains why it doesn't show signs of rust or wear.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  After you clean it, does it have any residue or staining at all? Does your pan look like the ones pictured below? If not, could you post a picture? When/where did you get yours?

                  I'm really bummed by this pan because it's the only piece of Le Creuset I have that I don't use - and hate.

                  1. re: sobriquet

                    I got my ages ago - it doesn't look like either photo - it's round, I think the handle is different, and doesn't have those things on the sides to pour out liquid. I think mine is just plan, unenameled, uncoated cast iron. I don't notice any staining, and treat it like a regular cast iron pan. In terms of residue, I like to refer to it as seasoning! I'll take a photo later and post.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Actually - mine does have those "spouts" on either side.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        I'd still be interested to see your pan if you wouldn't mind taking a picture, please, Ruth. Especially to see what the seasoning looks like.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Mine looks like this, too, but I have an older round model. It still has the handle and sides - it's not one of the flat skinny ones.

                  The finish is the same on mine as in that pic. The finish feels slightly rough to the touch rather than the smooth enamel of my other LC pieces.

                  [EDIT FOLLOWS]

                  Like this, only with ridges. http://www.amazon.com/Creuset-9-Inch-...

                  1. re: sobriquet

                    i thought it was a version of non-stick, because the satin texture finish on the inside of the pan (in contrast to the very smooth bottom) is so different from other cast iron -- and my le creuset enamel over cast iron skillet and dutch ovens.

                    the amazon descriptions say this satin-texture doesn't need seasoning -- yet also states the patina will build over time (season further).

                    many years ago i bought the deep chicken fryer skillet with the non-stick coating they used back then. it has however eroded in quality -- despite using wooden utensils. i don't even know if lc makes the chicken fryer skillet with lid anymore, otherwise i'd think about "returning it" for a new one (with whatever surface is on it). i did like the depth -- i'd say about 3 1/2-4 inches sides....it resides quietly in the back of the cabinet. lonely. back with the seldom-used condiments.

                2. I had a Le Creuset grill pan, and yes it did stick badly. I replaced it will a Staub grill pan at someone's suggestion. And while it does still stick a little bit it's a vast improvement from the LC pan. It's made the same with the matte black enamel, but for some reason it seasons better and is easier to clean too. I got the rectangular 9 X 13 ones with the fold down handle. Staub Basix on QVC used to sell the same pan there for about $32.

                  1. I have an LC reversible double burner grill/griddle. Love it especially when it is too windy to light the gas grill or we are out of gas. I've never had an issue with cleaning it. A stiff scrubbing brush and detergent and it is ready to go again. It is not enameled or coated. Just cast iron.

                    1. I have two enamelled le creuset grill pans and I use them a lot for all kinds of things. I have found that the more I use them, the more a patina has built up on the surface that is very easy to clean. I just soak them for a few minutes in hot soapy water and wash them clean with a sponge. They aren't beautiful to look at (the yellow enamel coating has also developed a patina around the edges that will not come off) but I don't care about that. They're for cooking not looking and they work great.

                      1. I have 2 Le Creuset rectangular skinny grill pans. I have a small wall oven & I can get two side by side in my oven depending on how much I have to grill. I LOVE these pans. I put them in a cold oven & preheat to 450'. Let them get HOT! Then before I put what I'm grilling on them, I paint them with extra-virgin olive oil then immediately put my food on the grill. When I cook chicken which I just sprinkle with some sort of dry seasoning (I like Penzey's Bold Taco Seasoning, Penzey's Salt Free Mural of Flavor, & Penzey's Jerk Seasoning). I set the timer for 8 minutes. Turn the chicken & reset the timer for 5 minutes & remove from oven after that. You would think that the chicken would be dry from cooking it so hot but it is fabulously juicy on the inside & nicely browned with grill marks on the outside. I have cooked shrimp the same way except you don't cook as long & don't even have to turn them.
                        To clean the pans allow them to cool. Put them in the bottom of the sink with some Dawn dishwashing liquid & water & soak for about 30 minutes. I have a stiff scrub brush on a stick that I then scrub them with then just rinse & dry. They clean SOO EASILY! Also I store them standing up beside my pots because they take up less room. I especially like it that they do not have a handle it saves space & you certainly don't need one for inside the oven.
                        I have a recipe for marinated grilled zucchini and I promise you that it tastes better grilled in the oven on these pans than when I tried it on my Big Green Egg outside using real wood charcoal. I was very surprised.
                        I have purchased 2 of these pans for my married daughter, 2 for my daughter in law, and 1 for my daughter in college.
                        No, I do not work for Le Creuset or Penzey's Spices. Ha,ha.

                        1. You realise it's supposed to develop a patina right? I don't have the black satin on my frying pan (it doesn't say it is, though it's black), but mine gets clean fine with a little elbow grease.

                          1. i use mine all the time and just burn off whatever is left after cooking on the stove top or by running it through my oven's self clean cycle.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ScubaSteve

                              One thing I should add. Since this is not pure cast iron, but coated, I do soak mine by filling it with soapy water for about ten minutes. Then I scrub with dishwashing liquid and a plastic brush until the brown goo (oil and food residue) stops running with the rinse. I dry it carefully and put it away. By the next use, usually a couple of days later, you can see additional blackened bits of food or grime coming loose from the pan. Apparently, once dried, they peel off voluntarily. I simply use my plastic brush -- without wetting it -- to scrape off the black bits into the sink and just cook with it as usual with a little oil rubbed on. I think this is the patina effect -- it seems like it is indeed seasoned, and I do recall some early disappointments with the pan, so it may very well be this patina that is doing its job.

                              Frankly, this same thing happens with my Lodge cast iron double grill/griddle. The pan is so seasoned that it seems to release the black residue after it has dried for a few days.

                            2. I, too, have a Le Creuset grill pan that has been sitting at the back of the cupboard because it seemed impossible to clean. Recently, however, I bought a copy of Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" and stumbled across his recipe for grilled chicken fajitas. He begins with putting the grill pan on high (I have a gas stove top) while you prepare the ingredients. Both times I tried the recipe, the pan was a bear to clean afterward. I thought to myself that there has to be a solution to the cleaning. This is what I tried:

                              1. The Le Creuset website says never to heat the pan to high since the cast iron will get hot enough at medium and retain the heat. (I'll try this in the future.)
                              2. I added hot water to the cool pan then heated it to boiling on the stove top.
                              3. I used a brass grill brush to clean the pan, then seasoned it it the oven just like my Lodge cast iron skillet.
                              4. I plan to treat it just like my cast iron skillet and have high hopes that it will become thoroughly seasoned and easy to clean with just hot water and a stiff brush. No soap.

                              I'm becoming convinced that it's a matter of learning how to use, treat, and clean the LC grill pan. We'll see...

                              1. Slightly off topic, but: I wonder why our USA options are so oriented to these coated grill pans? Years ago visiting some friends in Italy, I saw them using a rectangular cast iron grill pan (about 9"x14"), and I loved the simplicity of it. It has very low sides, like a griddle. I liked it so much that I bought one out there and schlepped it home--one of the only things I bought in Italy to bring home. It has a foldover heavy steel-wire handle, so it stores very compactly. Just treat it like cast iron. Season it. Make it blazing hot. Clean and dry like cast iron.

                                On Googling cast iron grill pan, I don't see anything like it on the market here. What a shame.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                  Know what you mean. I've had a small, round LC pan (#16, about 1 qt.) for over 40 years. The inner enamel is badly worn and I would like to replace it. Think I can find it in the US--think again. If I go to the French website for LC, the pan is there but not to be found in the US site. This pan has been one of the most versatile pieces of cookware I've own--hence the wear--but I'm probably not going to be able to replace it unless I go to France. But then that's a thought, isn't it!

                                  1. re: sundaycook

                                    Amazon sells a 1 qt.LC enameled iron French oven in several colors. It's just like the larger ones but mini sized. Was that what you wanted?

                                2. I'm very happy with mine, but I'm a vegetarian and I don't have easy access to a grill. When I bought mine a few months ago from a Le Creuset outlet, I asked the manager outright about all the problems I had heard about cleaning the pan. He said that he often has people come in and complain about the pan and it is attributable to 3 very important points that he says people overlook when reading the care and use:
                                  1- Don't use it at high heat, Medium is as high as the Grill Pan needs to be used. Do the water droplet test, if it sizzles up right away, it's too hot.
                                  2-Don't use it with Olive Oil!! Olive Oil's smoke point is too low and it will be a mess. I use grapeseed oil instead, and don't over oil it or it will be sticky.
                                  3-Don't wash it with a grease cutting soap like Dawn. He says at the stores they are instructed to tell customers to specifically use Ivory dish soap. Apparently, even though it is enameled, a little bit of residual oil is necessary for keeping foods from sticking.

                                  That's what I do, except, I don't use Ivory because I already use more natural, gentle dishwashing soap like Seventh Generation. I don't wash mine every time, only when it's crusty or very greasy. Usually I just towel it off or rinse it off, occasionally I wash it with a little bit of soapy water and I scrub it with a nylon bristle dish brush (oxo). I dry it by hand right away with my flour sack towel. I haven't had to soak it really.

                                  1. I wonder which one of you donated your LC grillpan to Goodwill? I recently bought one for $5. While it has been used, it appears to have been used very little.