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Oct 11, 2010 07:00 PM

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.

      12 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

          ┬źNEVER 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.

                1. re: toitoi

                  Toitoi, to that I'd like to add that you can also remove the dark color by adding a little clorox and leaving it for a few hours or overnight. This is perfectly safe and has been promoted by America's Test Kitchen.

              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. re: misslinnea

                    Hi Misslinnea, your comment above is not clear, you do use a low to medium heat, or you don't? Could you pls clarify? Thanks!

          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

            5 Replies
            1. re: mikie

              Hi Mikie, the issue w/LC is that they have enamel coating...which is a bitch to clean, and for sticking. I also have an enamel oven top, and thus have the same issue. Staub is not superior, they just don't have the coating on top of the cast iron! I don't like Staub as much and often find the pots/pans heavier, and that is also something to consider!

              1. re: bellamora

                Staub most definitely does have an enamel coating on the inside as well as the outside. It is just black instead of off-white.

                1. re: Sirrith

                  It's also a little rougher than the LC. I think it makes a better fond

                  1. re: BouquiGarnet

                    Yes, that too. Although I've found that the roughness varies; I have 4 staub cocottes, and 2 of the big ones have very smooth enamel, whereas the smaller two are rougher

                    1. re: Sirrith

                      I stand corrected the, Sirrith, I have not noticed the black enamel. I almost bought the square grill a few yrs ago and I noticed it didn't have enamel. I was not aware of the black enamel. One time, we were at Sur La Table all of the sudden the top to a pan fell from the top shelf -- that was scary! I will admit that I have 5 LC pots/pans and use them constantly! So regardless, I am not giving them up! Nothing compares to them. America's Test Kitchen has done numerous tests on the new "lightweight" cast iron pans, and as I had imagined, they are not the same. I will also admit that at times my searing in the LC pans is ok, and sometimes it's not. Yesterday I seared 7 thighs in a brassier, the pan I use the least, and several of them stuck. I had to fight them off the pan, and that's to say I kissed the pan before I started to cook in it. I love all my LC pans! So I will try heating the pan, then adding the oil at a med temp and report back.

            2. 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.