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Searing in Le Creuset

Help me... we just invested in 2 new Le Creuset pans (Dutch Oven 5.5 QT & Braiser 3.5QT)and we cannot figure out how to sear meat in them. Everything seems to stick and not properly brown.

Can anyone offer suggestions? Thank you!

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  1. I think that's exactly what Le Creuset cookware is supposed to do. When you first sear the meat, it will stick and form a brown "fond" on the bottom of the pan. You then lower the heat, add the liquid for braising, and cover. As it cooks, all the stuck-on bits will be released from the bottom and add delicious flavor to the dish.

    PS. For simply searing meat, I'd suggest using a plain (not enameled) cast iron skillet.

    1. It's tough and rarely satisfactory. I usually sear the meat in cast iron and then transfer it to my dutch oven.

      Three tips:
      - Try heating the pan before adding the fat and the meat.
      - Use a greater than usual amount of fat for the browning stage. You can discard the excess fat after browning and before adding the other ingredients.
      - After you put the meat in, spend the next few minutes shifting it around the pan. After a while, a crust forms and it doesn't stick as readily.

      9 Replies
      1. re: carswell

        ALWAYS heat the pan before you put the oil in.

        NEVER move the meat around as carswell suggests, leave it be, or a crust won't form, it will only get a tan color. After a few minutes, gently try to lift the meat - if is doesn't move, give some more time. Once you can jiggle the piece, turn it over to the other side, and repeat.

        When it moves, take it out, and pour off most of the fat, but don't let any of the brown bits or juices go down the drain.

        1. re: toitoi

          «NEVER move the meat around as carswell suggests, leave it be. After a few minutes, gently try to lift the meat - if is doesn't move, give some more time. Once you can jiggle the piece, turn it over to the other side, and repeat.»

          This works in my stainless steel pans and pots but NEVER in my Le Creuset. Not in 30 years of use. YMMV but, after years of seeing fowl and meat shredded by leaving it be in my Le Creuset, I've switched to browning it in cast iron or, when that's not a possibility, to moving it around for the first few minutes in the Le Creuset. As a result, I have much more intact fowl and meat.

          1. re: carswell

            carswell, I just edited my post.

            Perhaps, in those 30 years, you've (1) had the pan too hot (2) not enough oil (3) too much movement. My humble opinion is too hot.

            1. re: toitoi

              I doubt my pan is too hot. Over the years I've experimented with various temperatures but have never put the pan on high (let alone max) out of fear of damaging the finish. Insufficient oil is also out of the question, since I long ago learned to err on the generous side and then discard the excess. As we're discussing not moving the meat, (3) isn't a factor. And, as I mention, I long ago mastered the "leave it be" approach with my stainless pots and pans.

              I'd also contend that, since I only move the meat for the first few minutes, the browning is not inferior to that achieved with the "leave it be" method. And since the "leave it be" method usually leaves some -- and sometimes lots -- of the browned parts firmly attached to the bottom of the pan, it can't really be considered preferable.

              In any case, cookiejanet now has two approaches to try. A little experimentation, and she can decide which works best for her.

              1. re: carswell

                Highly recommend hobbybaker's suggestion of thoroughly drying the meat before putting in the pan. I had forgotten to write that.

                How you clean the pot after you use it might be a problem. No abrasives or harsh detergents; treat it like a cast iron skillet.

                I'd merely fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil - that will remove anything that's caked on. Then just, wipe dry.

              2. re: toitoi

                I have to agree, I am seering boneless skinless chicken thighs right now. On a low to medium flame with some olive oil, it takes a while for them. They stick, where you cant pry them off, but as they cook on low to medium they begin to lift and have this fantastic brown crust, even skinless. I am seering in a 7.25 qt. Le Creuset Dutch Oven

                1. re: misslinnea

                  I really learned the importance of drying the meat when I cooked recipes from "All About Braising". Molley puts strong emphasis on that. Even if the meat luckily does not stick, without drying, the meat almost cooked into white, not seard but almost steamed, and no good brown searing, which makes the same recipe so fravorless and dull. Happy cooking, misslinnea. what are you cooking?

                  1. re: hobbybaker

                    I made enchiladas today. I seered the boneless chicken thighs, added a homemade canned sofrito and put in the oven at 300 in my dutch oven for 2 hours. The meat just fell apart and was so juicy. The veggies carmelized and I just mixed the meat and the tomato mixture together. I filled the tortillas with the meat and cheese and topped with a homemade enchilada sauce I found on Chow. I then made a fresh guacamole. I have lots of cilantro on hand right now, lol.

                    1. re: misslinnea

                      Thanks for your responce. Mmmmmmm sounds so Yum!

        2. I hope I'm not going to ignite a fire storm. We recently bought some Staub Cocottes, and have not had issues with poor browning or sticking. We have seared pot roasts without issue, I've browned potatos and chicken breasts with no sticking. This is the only experience we have with enameled cast iron, we have never used LC, so I don't know if it is tecnique or if there is actually something to the claim that the Staub interior surface is better for browning and release. We typically use medium heat and I typically preheat the pot on medium/low for a while because I know it takes awhle for the cast iron to distrubute the heat. Other than that I reall can't say we do anything special to promote browning

          1. Another suggestion might be to pat the meat dry with paper towels so it can brown easily with minimum sticking.

            I use my LC DOs mostly for braising. As tanuki mentioned, a bit of sticking/browning to form a fond is necessary for braising. I, too, use a lodge bare cast iron skillet just to sear meat. It is so much easier with bare cast iron if recipes require searing only.

            Mikie, you make me feel I want to try Staub... well I thought I am done with collecting DOs :)

            1. Not sure how high a temperature you're using to sear, but be very careful about using high heat on the stovetop with your enamelled cast iron. I found out the hard way that exposure to high heat contributes to problems with the enamel chipping.

              1. I haven't had an issue with searing, and a couple of thoughts occurred as I read your post and the rest of the comments.

                -> Make sure you have enough oil in the dutch oven or braiser. You don't need a higher than medium heat. Make sure the pot and oil have had enough time to warm up, before placing the meat in and don't move the piece(s) around for at least 4-5 minutes; some larger cuts may need even more time before turning them over. I made short ribs last week and I left them in place for more like 8-10 minutes before turning to another side. I ended up with the lovely browned bits on the bottom of the interior of the braiser, but the short ribs didn't stick and were very easy to turn.

                It's interesting that the UK and USA care and use suggestions give slightly different details. I always understood that one shouldn't heat LC enameled cast iron dry, as opposed to other kinds of materials like SS. The UK instructions detail this and other good bits of info that the US instructions don't include:
                )MEDIUM AND LOW HEATS will provide the best results for the majority of cooking, including frying and searing. Allow the pan to heat gradually and thoroughly, as this will give the most even and efficient cooking results. Once the pan is hot almost all cooking can be continued on lower settings.

                • HIGH HEATS should only be used for boiling water for vegetables or pasta, or for reducing the consistency of stocks and sauces. High heats should never be used to pre-heat a pan before lowering the heat for cooking. Cast iron retains heat so well that if a pan is overheated in this way it will contribute to poor cooking results, sticking and discolouration of cooking surfaces. Non-stick surfaces are permanently damaged by this mis-use.

                • MATCH THE PAN BASE TO THE HEAT ZONE to maximise efficiency and prevent overheating of pan sides or damage to handles. Long handles should be positioned safely so that they do not overhang the front of your stovetop, or over other heat zones.

                • DO NOT HEAT AN EMPTY PAN or allow a pan to boil dry. Either may cause permanent damage to the enamel and pan.

                See the URL above for more details.

                I hope this helps! -sou

                1 Reply
                1. re: souvenir

                  Thank you! I wish I'd known these tips prior to heating the enamel right out of my pot! I think I erred on the side of going too crazy with the stovetop heat with mine. Impatience in the kitchen = my Achilles heel. ;)

                2. take a lesson from ROUXBE they rec a three step method and it has never failed-- pan on medium wait until water does the mercury bounce THEN add oil wait until it runs side to side like fingers THEN add the food My DH watched and he has tried this with all our enamel ( over steel with Chantal and over cast iron with LC and STaub) and no sticking It is a thing of the past We are in shock something so easy could be all about technique Look into the online classes worth every penny !!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gulfcoastgal

                    I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to do that with ECI. It could do damage to a very expensive piece of equipment!

                  2. Are these pieces Signature?