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Le Creuset 11 3/4" Skillet - questions

kscooley Oct 21, 2011 08:17 AM

I searched here and tried to find the answers to my questions, but have yet to find them despite the many threads related to LC. Hoping that people who own this piece will be able to help me out.

I have the skillet & my beloved 7 1/4 Qt round French oven. The FO is a workhorse in my kitchen - I use it a few times every week. The skillet, though... I reach for my All-Clad SS first. Here are the questions:

1. Patina - mine only seems to have one in the middle, despite cooking food throughout the pan. How long did it take yours to develop a patina throughout?

2. If I don't have a good patina build up, I assume it will not be "non-stick". I use oil in the pan, but food still sticks. What to do?

3. Temp - Gas stove here and I feel like the skillet gets a center hot spot. The heat doesn't seem to disperse evenly throughout the bottom of the pan, despite the claim on LC's website that it has even heat distribution. Have you found a particular setting works better to get a more even heat? Low? Med-low? etc.?

4. I tried to go through all of the talk of seasoning vs not and read all of the differing opinions. I'm just wondering if attempting to season it a bit would work and perhaps help build the patina. I realize that it has the enameled surface, so that bit of knowledge is a moot point.

I would really like to get more use out of this skillet. I honestly thought I would and that it would build up a lovely "non-stick" coating. (I don't assume it would ever be as non-stick as a Teflon pan or the like, however, some degree of non-stick is assumed.)

Can anyone help me love my pan more? :-)

  1. kscooley Oct 21, 2011 08:21 AM

    Just wanted to add that yes, I've read the care & use instructions on the LC site. :-)

    1. kaleokahu Oct 21, 2011 09:17 AM

      Hi, kscooley:

      I have this skillet, and I feel your pain.

      1. I'm not 100% sure of your meaning of "patina". Perhaps you mean the limited level of "seasoning" that can be attained on the LC black enamel. If you have a modicum of this seasoning at the pan's center and nowhere else, it probably corresponds with your hot spot area. Unless you "season" your pan in the oven, this is probably the best you can do.

      2. This black enamel is not non-stick, seasoned or not. The best you can hope for is to patiently pre-heat the pan, add your fat, and then be sure it's all reached equilibrium before introducing your food.

      3. Yes, this is what cast iron pans do at all temperatures. Higher gas settings sometimes spread the flame out horizontally, "enlarging" the hob. Short of getting a new stove (no assurances there, either) or Jiffy-Poppng your pan all over, there's not much to be done on the stovetop. Marvelous fritattas are posible; expect mediocre omelettes. Even heat and CI on the stovetop are not related concepts. LC is borderline fraudulent in suggesting CI attains even heat; their fig leaf, if you read their literature carefully, is that CI attains even heat in the *oven* (Duh, what doesn't?).

      4. You can try "seasoning" it in the oven. It may help a bit.

      These large skillets make decent shallow roasters, if you don't mind having only one handle.

      Aloha,

      Kaleo

      1. Jay F Oct 21, 2011 10:05 AM

        I have one, and as a skillet/fry pan, it doesn't get useful much outside the center. I use my 12" All-Clad stainless to saute shrimp, scallops, fish meuniere, and chicken. I reserve the Le Creuset for making grilled cheese and frittatas.

        Oh, and it's not meant to develop a patina like bare cast iron, because it's not bare cast iron. It's black enamel.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jay F
          kscooley Oct 21, 2011 10:55 AM

          I have the 12" All Clad and am crazy in love with that skillet. It is my go-to pan and gets used pretty much every day. I was hoping that I could have two go-to's, but, well, I suppose we'll see.

          As far as patina, that's what they say on the LC site -

          "Satin Black enamel will keep its good looks and allow a patina to build on its surface with continued use. A patina is the result of the natural oils and fats from foods baking on to the hot surface. The patina should not be cleaned off, as it enhances the cooking performance and the release of foods. It also reduces the need for surface oiling."

          So, yes, I was expecting more of a patina build-up, but I suppose it will only build up over the hot spot area. Bummer, as the patina area is getting smooth & doesn't stick as much as the rest.

          Thanks so much for the feedback on a subject that has been well discussed here already. I appreciate the help you all have given! :-)

          - Karen

        2. b
          blondelle Oct 21, 2011 10:10 AM

          In this video from Le Creuset you can watch a chef make cornbread, bean salad and catfish in a tiny LC enameled cast iron skillet. Nothing seems to stick. I wouldn't think a pan this size had much use, but I would never go through all that for only one serving.

          http://www.youtube.com/lecreusetUS#p/...

          1 Reply
          1. re: blondelle
            Jay F Oct 21, 2011 11:16 AM

            This video addresses the size issue nicely. One of the reasons my 12" LC skillet doesn't get hot except in the center is that my burner isn't as big as the one in the video. Someone mentioned in an earlier thread on the subject the importance of matching skillet size to burner size, and this video illustrates that nicely. I'm tempted to buy a small Le Creuset skillet now.

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