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May 15, 2011 09:06 AM

Is it just me? (Le Creuset v. Calphalon: performance question)

As most of you are well aware, I love Le Creuset. Nowadays I love the colors, true, but I have always loved the way it cooks, or the way I cook when I use it. But you kind of wonder sometimes, hey, it's just a pot to cook in. It can't really make food taste better, can it?

I'm asking because recently, I made a couple of pots of chili (simple, w/ground turkey) at a friend's house, a friend who has all Calphalon. We made one batch (less hot) in a 5-qt. dutch oven and another (the hot batch) in a 7-qt. stockpot. The chilis we ended up with were good, but for some reason, I'm convinced I like mine better when I make it in one of my Le Creuset French ovens.

This has nothing to do, incidentally, with my not liking the dark Calphalon cooking surface.

I felt I made both batches the same way I always make them at home, but they weren't as good as the chili I make at home using this recipe.

I sweat onions in olive oil, add cumin, ground dried ancho, cayenne, stirring them in the onions and olive oil to get rid of the dry taste, and then add the meat and break it into chunks. When the meat is cooked through, I add canned tomatoes. I cook that for about an hour, then add drained canned kidney beans, chopped green pepper, and seeded fresh red chili, and cook another 20-30 minutes. This isn't the only kind of chili I make, just the easiest.

I can't think of why it should be any better when I make it at home, other than that I use Le Creuset. But it is better. Or at least it's been much better lately than the two batches I made in Calphalon at a friend's house.

Can this be true? Does anyone believe they cook better in __________ (your favorite cookware)?

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  1. This has a lot more to do with enameled cast iron (Le Creuset) vs presumably anodized aluminum (Calphalon), no? I think it has to do with the fact that you have already optimized your recipe based on your enameled cast iron French Oven. Had you optimized your recipe based the Calphalon anodized aluminum stock pot, then you may very well feel the other way. This is similar to people perfecting their baking recipes in one oven and have troubles transfer the recipes to a new oven.

    Now, I do believe my stir fried dishes are better from a carbon steel wok than a nonstick frying pan, but that is kind of obvious to anyone.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      True. Until fairly recently, I'd hardly used anything except LC, bare cast iron, or plain aluminum.

      But it's been mostly LC, so, yes, I think in general my cooking is optimized for its use. I have one Calphalon saute pan, but I never liked using it, so I only pulled it out when I needed to make a lot of something (it nearly covers two burners). Now I have some larger LC that pretty much obviates the need for a 14" Calphalon saute pan.

    2. I moved from Farberware to Calphalon years ago and it took some time to adjust. But that was a big jump. and did not effect flavor, just technique. I have a hard tome that the flavors were different based on the cookware. From what I can see there are many variables in the recipe that could have affected the end product in addition to the surface.

      1. I've read so many reviews in which the person says they have been making the exact same recipe for years and then made it in LC. Invariably, they say they have changed nothing in the recipe but when cooked in LC it came out so much better than before with more depth of flavor.

        1 Reply
        1. re: blondelle

          You know, Blondelle, I think I use the two brands differently. Because the Calphalon is so light, I handle it more gingerly so as not to push it around when I stir things. I once ordered an 8-qt. Calphalon Dutch oven because it had a blowout price on Amazon, but even as cheap as it was, I knew I wouldn't like it before I even opened the box. I think they've changed the weight of things over the years, though. I don't push my 7 qt. saute pan around on the stovetop when I stir something in it.