Le Creuset grill pans - are any of them worth it?
I have read a lot of reviews, some here and some other places, that the Le Creuset grill pans are not worth the price tag. Tough to clean, food sticks to them, can't season them etc. Is this all of their grill pans? Is it the skinny long one without a handle, or the 10 inch square one with a handle and deeper sides? Good/bad experiences with either of them?
I'm happy with mine! I have the square one with a handle in Carribean Blue. I got it new, but it's a second from the Outlet Store at the Citadel in Los Angeles. I got it for a steal, half off retail. I'm a vegetarian so your needs may be different than mine. When I bought mine a few months ago, I asked the manager outright about all the problems I had heard about cleaning the pan. He said that he often has customers complain about the pan cleaning 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. (there's info about this on the website)
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 when it cools.
3-Don't wash it with a grease cutting soap like Dawn. The manager said 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, so it does kind of have to be seasoned.
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.
I haven't had any trouble with the quality of this pan as far as the enamel goes, but I haven't had it that long. I haven't had any experience with grill pans from other manufacturer's, I do own one other le Creuset frying pan and the paint on the bottom of it has flecked off the circular base but I think it's from my naive handling when I first got it and my electric burner stove (I probably used it at too high a temp). I've been much more careful with this new one. I honestly love the colors of these pans which is why I went with le Creuset again.
America's Test Kitchen recommended aluminum grill pans over cast iron, but there is no way I'm going to cook in aluminum if I don't have to, particularly at a high heat, there's just too much uncertainty around the safety of aluminum at high temperatures.
My sister bought me LC square grill pan for my birthday a few years ago....I HATE IT. I've read elsewhere on the web that others share my sentiments about this particular LC product. LC is normally a quality product. They dropped the ball on this one. This grill pan is the pits. Its outside enamel discolored permanently within the first week; it never could be cleaned properly and everything stuck to it. I finally called LC in frustration and they gave me instructions on how to clean it and further explained that it had to be seasoned in a particular way. I admit that their instructions did work. I finally got it clean; and once it was seasoned, it did sort of grill things, but it was such a pain to use, I put it away permanently.
I bought a Lodge cast-iron grill pan earlier this year and the difference is like night and day. No trouble at all. Compared to the $100 plus for the LC, the Lodge costs about $30, comes pre-seasoned and is a joy to use. The more it's used, the slicker it becomes. I love it!
I have the square one with the handle. It does take a seasoning of a sort. I have not found it hard to clean, and it gets better as I use it and the seasoning builds.
Never had a problem with sticking.
That said like everything else Le Creuset, you're mostly paying for the brand name, the color, the high quality enamel, etc.
If I had not received it as a gift, I'd probably never have bought the Le Creuset when I could get Lodge for less than half the cost.