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Jun 5, 2009 07:50 AM

Questions re: Le Creuset Stoneware

Hello all, first post here.

I was wondering what people had to say about the stoneware line of Le Creuset. Much less expensive than the cast iron, and I know it can't go on the stovetop. Are there any major drawbacks? I realize there are things I'd need the cast iron for, but would it be worth it to add a stoneware piece to my collection?

The item in mind is the 5.75 qt oval casserole seen here:

The reason I'm considering it is because I like the round cast iron dutch ovens, and the only time I've thought about getting an oval one was for roasted chicken in the oven. Could I use this for that purpose and not have to worry about the cast iron?

Any other stoneware pieces I should look into?

Sorry for the long winded post and thanks for any help.

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  1. stoneware won't have the same heat retention qualities as cast iron

    1. I'd look for the Emile Henry Flame ceramic instead. Pricey but sooooo worth it!

      It works equally well on a high stove top flame or your hottest oven or broiler temps or a gentle simmer. And it holds heat so well I bring the liquid for rice or steel-cut oatmeal to a boil and turn the flame off.

      1. I like the Le Creuset stoneware. I bought my first piece because I just needed a stoneware casserole dish and liked that it would match my LC dutch ovens, but I really do feel like it was a good purchase. Now I have a covered casserole, a loaf pan, an oval baking dish, the mixing bowl set, and a ramekin set.

        Roasting a chicken is really no problem in stoneware - I used to do it in a pyrex dish before. However, stoneware really cannot be used in place of cast iron, generally speaking. Everyone else's responses are right on the mark. Stoneware is really for baking.

        I've never tried the Emile Henry stuff, so I can't compare. However, I will say that the LC loafpan makes a great quickbread, the casserole makes a great casserole, and I've dropped the ramekins from counter height onto a ceramic tile floor several times without so much as a scratch.

        They are a bit overpriced, though - I'd watch for a sale.

        1 Reply
        1. re: paraque

          They're *completely* different materials.

          The EH is built to the meet the same standards of metal but still has all the advantages of ceramic. It's about twice as thick with barely more weight and made in baking and stovetop shapes.

          Check it out! I highly recommend it. I've been cooking for 45 years or so and it's the most revolutionary material I can think of since Teflon.

        2. I don't know why everyone thinks oval when it comes to a chicken. A good chicken to me is more square with a nice, full, broad breast. They breed them now with much larger breasts. I call them Dolly Parton chickens ;-). Scrawny ones and ducks are more oval. I think you're much better off with their cast iron ovens. Does much more and is more versatile, and does just fine with a chicken. Also gives you some room for veggies on either side of it while roasting.

          1. Please could someone give a brief overview on the benefits of stoneware over cast iron?

            3 Replies
            1. re: pass

              Both great.

              Cast iron won't break. It will do great pancakes. It can take higher heat than most ceramics.

              Ceramic won't rust. That means it can go in the dishwasher and your teen who just doesn't care won't wreck the seasoning. Ceramic is also probably lighter -- but not necessarily by much. It's also a better choice for tomato or heavily acid foods -- tho a moderate amount of tomato would do fine in iron too.

              1. re: pass

                People keep asking why someone would pick stoneware OVER cast iron. Personally, I think if one can only buy one piece of cookware, there would be no reason to pick stoneware over cast iron. Cast iron is the more versatile choice. That said, there are many reasons I like having a few stoneware pieces in addition to my cast iron.

                I'm sure there are some who would disagree with my preferences, but there are certain dishes where I would prefer that the edges not get crispy. For example, casseroles and quickbreads. I think stoneware does a better job of leaving a nice soft edge. Cast iron leaves a great crispy edge when you want that (think cornbread...).

                Also, you can stick stoneware in the microwave to reheat.

                Since the OP was asking about roasting, I really don't think either one does better at roasting chickens. Really the shape is most important I think for roasting birds - you want deep enough sides that splatters don't escape but shallow enough that the sides of the meat are well exposed to the oven (I find my DO sides a bit too deep, actually). For roasting chickens, I often wish I hadn't gotten rid of my old pyrex brownie pan.

                1. re: paraque

                  Thanks for your reply, I too think they ever so slightly better at gentler, slower cooking although there isn't really much in it. This might be because the stoneware radiates less direct heat or has less thermal mass.

                  I've heard very good things about unglazed stoneware for roast chicken - the so called chicken brick but I think the unglazed nature and close fitting size is what makes the difference.