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Should I convert from Crockpot to Le Creuset?

Thanks4Food Jan 28, 2012 07:24 AM

I suppose I'm asking the wrong people: most of you guys like the high end stuff and are real chefs. I'm just a lowly housewife and have done most of my cooking in a Crockpot. Never even heard of Le Creuset till I joined Chowhound. A Le Creuset outlet opened up nearby and on a complete impulse, my husband bought me 2 pots for my birthday next month. (Although he claims he was considering buying me one anyway--I guess he reads Chowhound now I'm a member. :-)

What bothers me are that I hate impulse buys and--worse--I can only return the pots "in unused condition," as it says on the receipt.

The two pots are the oval 6.75 dutch oven and the other is a 3.5 oval. One was a second and the other was clearance, so I'm sure they were a steal--BUT I've lived all my life without these and wonder if I should stick with my Crockpots which have been adequate until now. Oh, and we've got a complete set of Anolon pots and pans which are very nice--but the non-stick surface doesn't give me any sticky bits when I try to make gravy (but I only make gravy once a year at the most).

P.S. My husband thinks I should keep them.

P.P.S. I still hate that I can't try one out to see what I think.

  1. e
    escondido123 Jan 28, 2012 07:52 AM

    I don't think of a crockpot or LC as an either/or proposition. I thought people used crockpots because they wanted to be able to leave something cooking low and slow for a very long time--often when they weren't home. LC is for regular cooking on the stove that may also include braising in the oven low and slow. Do you want to brown things and then stew them? Then LC. Are you comfortable with the weight, which can be considerable when full.

    1 Reply
    1. re: escondido123
      Lotsofscots Jan 28, 2012 08:41 AM

      I'm going to second escondido - I have both and use both. I have two crockpots which I use for some recipes and I find them helpful when I'm going to be gone or busy, busy, busy for several hours. I have 3 LC pieces which get used when I want something that can move from stovetop to oven - braises or stews or chicken pot pies or casseroles. I like having the flexibility of both. The weight of the pots is a consideration, though. My LC dutch oven is the next size smaller and is quite heavy when full. You can carry it to the table and serve out of it because it is pretty. I have two LC braisers one is smaller than the other and gets more use because it is not quite so heavy!

    2. o
      olympia Jan 28, 2012 08:36 AM

      I'm going to be slightly evil and suggest getting one from a retailer that you'd be able to return to test it out. Also, it might be worth looking into the benefits of the credit card you used to purchase it. Some American Express cards have return protection where you can return to them directly if a retailer won't take a return.

      2 Replies
      1. re: olympia
        Thanks4Food Jan 28, 2012 08:42 AM

        You know, that's a good idea. I told my husband that if I had gotten one from Ross (or whatever discount store it is that I see them now and then), I'm sure they wouldn't question whether I had tried it or not.

        I did call the LC store to verify that I'm not allowed to try it out and was told yes, that's true. "But you have 45 days to decide!" Wow, that's helpful: I get to stare at them for 45 days and not know how they work.

        1. re: Thanks4Food
          olympia Jan 28, 2012 09:09 AM

          Williams-Sonoma, Sur la Table as well as the department store have good return policies too. There are great sales at Bloomingdale's sometimes - just earlier in the week there was a 4.5 qt oval for $99!

      2. o
        ORtastytravels Jan 28, 2012 08:50 AM

        I think the purchase would depend on your purpose. I would agree with escondido123 in saying it's not an either/or. I have both but they serve different purposes. I think if you normally cook with a crockpot, you'd have to ask yourself if you're willing to sacrific the convenience for more tending to with the LC (since with LC, you'd be cooking on the stove or oven). Good luck with your decision!

        1. Terrie H. Jan 28, 2012 09:18 AM

          I have the LC 7.5 qt oval and use it constantly. I admit to having an old-fashion cooking style and like to brown then braise or roast in the same pot. If this is the type of cooking you like to do, by all means keep your gift. I am able to be home to cook like this, so the crockpot might be your only way to braise. I almost never use my crockpot in cool weather anymore, but use it in the summer when I don't want to use the oven heating the kitchen. I agree that having both is nice.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Terrie H.
            Thanks4Food Jan 28, 2012 10:42 AM

            That's a good point about summer for the Crockpot and winter for the dutch oven. I have a half ham I'm planning to cook for dinner tonight and actually if I don't use the LC dutch oven, I'm not sure what I'd use--probably a 9x13 glass dish. The only roasting pan I own is a big turkey roaster that I've only used once for a turkey (I'm lousy at turkey and prefer chicken anyway) and mostly now use for roasted potatoes. So you've all got me leaning towards keeping the big oval for roast chicken, pot roast...half hams. I'll have my husband take back the smaller one for now--till I see how much I love this big guy.

            1. re: Thanks4Food
              Terrie H. Jan 28, 2012 10:55 AM

              Sounds like the perfect opportunity to break your LC in. I think you will be happy you kept it.

          2. Chemicalkinetics Jan 28, 2012 09:39 AM

            "I suppose I'm asking the wrong people"

            And yet you pressed the post buttom? :)

            "I've lived all my life without these and wonder if I should stick with my Crockpots which have been adequate until now."

            The truth is that you won't know until you try once. I would try one the 6.75 quart one because that is the more useful size.

            Slow cooker and enameled cast iron cookware (Le Creuset) have some similarity and some difference. They are both for slow cooking, but you have more flexibility with an enameled cast iron cookware. You have a much wider range of heat setting and you can add ingredient. Of course, you can do some light searing and pan frying on it. On the other, it is not like you have to have one. Many great cooks do not use or need one.

            1. Jay F Jan 28, 2012 10:16 AM

              The oval is good if you like to braise things that are longish (pork tenderloin) or roughly oval (whole chicken). The 6.5 qt. is nice and large, for a family-sized quantity of food. However, the long dimension may keep it from heating evenly in a timely manner on your hob (thanks, K).

              I would exchange the 3.5 qt. round French oven for a 5.5 qt. round. I use either the 5.5 qt. or the 4.5 qt. most frequently, and I'm single. Cooking for more than one, you'd probably get more use out of the 5.5 qt. size.

              1. dcrb Jan 28, 2012 10:34 AM

                Here is my take for what it is worth. We have crock pots and one LC dutch oven. Both get used although the crockpot rarely these days. For unattended, leave the house type cooking, the crockpot rules. If you're a stay at home cook, in other words, if something is on the stove and you give it attention, the dutch oven is hands down the way to go. You're home and get to peak, taste, adjust, season, etc. which you can also do with the crock pot. Crockpots are convenient, no doubt about it and they free up cooktop space. I would think that it pretty much depends how you cook. I feel there is room for both if your life style dictates a need for both. Get 'em and enjoy 'em.

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                  rasputina Jan 28, 2012 11:29 AM

                  I use both. I don't think they are either or. It's more a question of letting something cook unattended without the risk of burning it or your house down vs active cooking. I have 3 slow cookers and a variety of Le Creuset enameled cast iron. My 7 1/4 round gets the most usage though.

                  1. Thanks4Food Jan 28, 2012 12:30 PM

                    I'm committed now: washed the 6.75 dutch oven and put a half ham in it. The ham only takes up half the pot--what I need is a nice fat roasting chicken...

                    1. paulj Jan 28, 2012 12:57 PM

                      Have you never braised meat one the stove top or oven? By that I mean cook it for several hours covered (or partially covered) with some liquid. People have been making pot roast and stewed chicken long before Regal came out with their crockpot in the 1970s (or there abouts).

                      What kind of things do you make in the crockpot?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: paulj
                        Thanks4Food Jan 28, 2012 02:06 PM

                        I understand that people have made food on the stove and in the oven since before the crockpot; the crockpot was simply my tool of choice when we married 20 years ago. Before that, cereal and canned soup were okay by me. I've made everything in my crockpot from soups to desserts (I have a cake insert I use to make a great little carrot cake). Chicken dishes are the usual fare but I also will make a small roast, or lamb stew, or chili. Right now I've got the ham in the LC but also have going my favorite side dish of sweet potatoes, cranberries, and apples in the crockpot. It's my favorite with turkey, ham, chicken.

                        It's from reading Chowhound that I learned that beef was better on the stove or in the oven and it's only in the last couple years I've started making pot roast for my hubby. I think he was dreaming of more meat dishes on the menu if he gave me LC...

                      2. kaleokahu Jan 28, 2012 01:21 PM

                        Hi, Thanks4Food:

                        I really like your screen name--very cool. "...just a lowly housewife..." This is a site about *collective* knowledge and wisdom; I'm sure you have as much to teach as you have to learn.

                        Sounds like you are keeping the ovals, and I think (even though I'm not the greatest fan of LC) you've made a good choice. Compared to the Anolon, they will not be quite as even on the stovetop, but you will get fond, and you will like them a lot in oven cooking. Would your half ham not fit in the 3.5Q?

                        I can only counsel you that--if you like them--you and DH resist the temptation to venture into other pan configurations for which LC and other ECI isn't well-suited--dedicated stovetop pieces like saucepans, sautes, frypans, etc. For those pieces, IMO your money is best spent elsewhere.

                        Finally, be not ashamed of your crockpot. It's a good tool, and I bet you turn out great food from it.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kaleokahu
                          Thanks4Food Jan 28, 2012 02:14 PM

                          You've got me ready to change my screen name to "WishIWereInHI" :-)

                          The ham may have fit all right in the 3.5, but if I were only going to keep one, I'd rather have the larger so I can make a nice roast chicken with veggies. Since I don't particulary love cooking, I like to cook in large batches.

                          I probably wouldn't have been questioning the LC at all if my husband hadn't bought TWO items. I'd rather try one and see what I think before adding more. But as you say, I'm sure that I don't need to be buying all those specialized items they have.


                        2. g
                          GH1618 Jan 28, 2012 03:45 PM

                          It isn't true that most people here like only high-end stuff. Although I have a few expensive pans, I also have a low-end slow cooker and like it for certain things. I expect there are many people here who appreciate that good food can be made with modest equipment.

                          If you like the le Creuset, but think it was extravagant, you might consider returning one, and keeping one. I would probably keep the large one, and I would also keep the Crock-Pot.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: GH1618
                            Chemicalkinetics Jan 28, 2012 04:19 PM

                            "I would probably keep the large one"

                            Same here.

                            1. re: GH1618
                              Terrie H. Jan 28, 2012 04:52 PM

                              +1 - I love mine.

                            2. m
                              mikie Jan 29, 2012 05:59 AM

                              My wife and I made it for 40 years without an enameled cast iron cocotte and after purchasing one, we now find that they are as well used as any pot we have. We also made it 40 years without a crockpot, well at least a large one. As many have already stated, it's a different cooking style. We were so impressed with the first, we now have 4 pieces, a 2.5 qt round, 5.5 qt round, 8.75 qt round and a 9.5 inch braiser. And we use all of them and find them to be quite versital.

                              1. m
                                MangaLisa Jan 30, 2012 08:53 AM

                                I am hooked on my LC or enameled cast iron equivalents... . Soups, stews, meat sauces, curries, braises. So it depends on what I'm doing. Good for weight lifting also as others have said ;). I would not give one to my older momma due to that. However, nothing beats a crock pot when you want to leave it alone while you are working or busy all day. I use them for different functions as others have said.

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