Help with Le Creuset and eggs
I made the decision to replace my Analon cookware. We make eggs in some shape or form at least twice a day every day. And my Analon cookware is 10 years old. And it is in need of it's second replacement. And Analon has replaced it under the warranty.
I wanted to get something to replace my omelette pan. I finally found my way to the Le Creuset shop at the outlet mall near my house. After some talking with the help there, they directed me to this pan.
The help at the store told me that after use it would develop a patina that would increase it's non-stick abilities. My usual routine with the Analon pan was to wipe it down with olive oil. Put it on the stove. Pour my egg whites into it. Turn the heat on. Watch it cook soo evenly. Flip it over and finish up.
Now, my first opinion was that something is wrong with the Le Creuset pan. It does not cook evenly. If I reproduce that cooking routine, the egg whites will be burnt to the pan in the center and not cooked on the outer edge. I emailed Le Creuset and they recommended heating the pan before applying any oil. So I tried this and it was better. I even checked temperatures of the pan with an infrared thermometer when Le Creuset recommended that I send it back and have it replaced. If I let the pan heat up and stabilize, the temperatures are fairly consistent across the pan. So I figured I would carry on. If I heat the pan up, then apply a liberal coat of butter, and then put the eggs in, it does much better.
Still not happy with this I bought a pan similar to this.
Now, it's not that dish, but you can't find what I have on any website, only the Le Creuset store. I have a 9" skillet that they call their omelette pan, but it has the sandy brown interior just like the dish in the link above.
I have tried the same techniques in this pan with not so happy results. If I heat the pan for about 5 minutes and then put a liberal coating of butter in it. Then pour regular scrambled eggs in it, they come out browned in the center, and less cooked then the outer edges. This is the only way I can cook them so that they don't stick.
Now, I have always used olive oil in my old pans, but wanted to get away from aluminum pans and the PTFE based non-stick. Now here I am slathering butter in the pans to cook, and I would really prefer to not have to cook that way. Does anyone have any recommendations on a better way for me to approach cooking the eggs? Any ideas would be appreciated. I have tried scrambling one egg in a dish and then putting egg whites in with it, and the pans don't seem to like that as much. And when I talk about egg whites I but the carton from the grocery store that is already made up for you.
Thanks in advance for any ideas.
While I am a devoted user of much LC and cast iron, in general, I reach for either a lighter weight non-stick or a Calphalon anodized skillet when making eggs. Cast iron needs a long time to heat up, and that is because it is not a great conductor of heat, actually one of the worst. It also takes a long time to cool off for this reason. It takes a long time to become heated evenly, and your problems seem like they might be caused by uneven heating. These pans are very different in nature from the anodized aluminum that you are used to using, which is far more responsive. Aluminum heats up quickly, heats more evenly across the bottom by dispersing heat from the burner better, and then cools down more quickly because it is a far better conductor of heat.
My guess is that you have not been allowing the pans to heat up "low and slow" -- which is the only way that you can be assured that they are heated somewhat evenly. I actually have your first pan in my collection, and rarely use it for something like eggs because it takes a long time to heat up. You need to realize that many cooks with the most expensive cookware are reconciled to the fact that their egg pans are somewhat disposable by comparison. If you can get one to last as long as you say -- two in ten years under heavy use -- you are doing quite well. I would save the first LC for cooking the sides -- sausage, ham and bacon, and use the tartin pan for a fritatta (just be sure to grease the insides), and go back to non-stick or anodized aluminum for your egg dishes.
No, that's exactly what I was doing, the "low and slow" method of heating the pan. I used the matte black pan this morning with a liberal coat of butter and real scrambled eggs. I heated the pan until the butter sizzled when it went in. The eggs cooked quickly and did not stick.
But, back to my dilemma. I eat egg whites, and I use olive oil. So, having to switch to whole eggs and butter is not exactly the health choice my cholesterol was looking for. I was making everyone's lunch for tomorrow and decided to give it another shot. I used the smaller sand brown finished pan and Pam cooking spray this time. I heated the pan using low to med low heat. Once the pan was warm I sprayed some Pam in there and poured my egg whites in. And I must say, it was probably 99% stick free. But realistically it was as good as I could expect. I had never thought to use Pam since I was so conditioned to not use it on non-stick cookware. I'll have to thank MikeB for that one. And Pam is mostly Canola oil, so at least I have the health benefits there. I think I may have succeeded. Thanks for all the tips. I'm hoping the pans just get better with use.
there are a couple issues with enameled cast iron. 1) they're cast iron, so they're not the most even distributors of heat and they take a while to heat up; rule of thumb: hot pan, cold oil (or butter) will produce better results. 2) enameled cast iron is not as non-stick as seasoned, unenameled cast iron. Try the hot pan, cold oil technique, and if you're not happy, get a cheap unenameled cast iron frying pan and season it. We use a plain, seasoned cast iron pan for eggs all the time with pretty good results. Failing that, a non-stick surface like Analon might be your best bet.
Deep breath...OK, the good news is that you were sold a fantastic pan. Don't throw it away, don't give it away, don't hide it in your basement. Now the bad news. It probably will never be a great "egg pan". With a little adjustment in technique, it can still be a very good "egg pan".
An enameled cast iron pan just is not going to season like plain cast iron, so you will always need to give it a good spritz of Pam to keep things from sticking. Of course, regular cast iron has it's own maintenance routine, which is not for everyone. By the way, a spritz of Pam is not abad idea in well-seasoned cast iron, too.
Key to working with any cast iron is to keep the heat under control... medium flame is a good start. Cast iron does not distribute heat well, but all that iron mass will absorb a tremendous amount of heat. Hot spots are overcome by allowing the pan some time to get good and hot all over. Trying to short-cut by setting on a high-output burner cranked all the way up will cause grief.
Once the pan is hot (dancing water drops), spritz with oil and crack the eggs in. If you have the heat just right, you probably can shut the heat off right then... there should be enough heat left in the pan to finish an over-easy egg or scrambles.
By the way, a nice heavy aluminum pan with a good quality Teflon finish is really not a bad choice, as long as you can accept that the Teflon, no matter how good, wears off.
Do please use and enjoy that LC fry pan as often as you can -- I think you will learn to love it.
I don't plan on getting rid of them. I'll love them no matter how much it hurts. I never use high heat, the thing that is crazy is that if you use low heat, your guaranteed to be scraping eggs from the pan. The magic touch seems to be a warm pan that has water drops dancing. I was then using a liberal coating of butter and dropping the eggs in the pan. And viola! Good eggs.
I had not thought to use Pam, since you read so much about NOT using it on traditional non-stick like Teflon since it has such a low burning point.
The Analon cookware has been a decent product. The omelette pan gets eggs made in it on average twice a day, every day of the week. And we have had the set for 10 years. Now, that being said, the Teflon has come off of every piece in the set, at least once. The omelette pan is due for sending back again.
My thoughts were, I don't want to keep eating the stuff. And, I would like to get to a set of cookware that doesn't have any kind of chemical originated coating. I'm am in no way knocking Teflon, I just had a goal to replace it in my cookware.
I think I'll be making some eggs with Pam today and see how that works.
See, that is the part that really stinks. Here is an excerpt from the Le Creuset site describing the first pan I bought. "The uniform heating of cast iron ensures completely even cooking across the pan surface."
I switched back to my first pan today. The matte black finish pan. I heated it first, then but a coating of butter in it. I used just scrambled eggs this time. Poured them in while the pan was hot. They sizzled up a bit, but they did not stick at all. I think I could deal with that, I would just like to find an alternative to butter.
I was using olive oil, which didn't seem to work so well with this cookware at first try. Maybe now that this pan has had a bit of use I'll have to try it again.
It definitely does seem to not heat as evenly as the aluminum Analon cookware.
I will say, it is definitely nice cookware. I have cooked some stuff that left some horrible residues, and with little effort the pans always clean up nice.
I am just trying to get past that learning curve. And if I can get away from the butter and find an oil alternative that leans towards the healthy side, then this will be my perfect pan.
Why do you want an alternative to butter? The idea that butter and other saturated fats are bad for you came from a time when trans fats were almost unknown, and the oil industry had just gotten its eyes set on hundreds of millions of customers for what used to be known as "high quality machine lubricant" (aka vegetable oils). The oil industry used the money they acquired from selling the new, cheaper oils (cheaper than animal fats) to embark on a gigantic marketing campaign to make everyone believe they were healthier. You can read more about all this at http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your....
Basically, saturated fats are NOT bad for you, trans fats are (though they can falsely test as saturated fat to the unaware). Unsaturated fats go rancid through oxygenation just sitting on the shelf before you even buy them! Heating unsaturated fats creates more carcinogens than saturated fats for the precise reason that they are unsaturated and lack hydrogen atoms at double bonds, allowing those double bonds to change chemically during cooking. There is also some evidence that heating unsaturated fats creates trans fats and that saturated fats have this problem to a lesser degree.
Butter is full of nutrients. The less processed it is, the better. It's truly good for you. Most polyunsaturated vegetable oils are not. And all unsaturated vegetable oils can denature very quickly when exposed to light, heat, oxygen, or too much time.
P.S. See https://www.westonaprice.org/abcs-of-... for more. Here's an excerpt:
Polyunsaturates in more than small amounts contribute to cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, learning disabilities, intestinal problems and premature aging. Large amounts of polyunsaturated fats are new to the human diet, due to the modern use of commercial liquid vegetable oils.