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Nov 29, 2012 10:06 PM

Le Creuset Essentials?

I recently purchased a 5-piece Le Creuset cookware set (3.5qt round, 1.25qt Precision Pour saucepan, & 10.25 skillet) as a Christmas present for my fiancée. I would also like to purchase a few more pieces, possibly bakeware, but I need some advice. My fiancée is a 30 yr French teacher with a new found interest in cooking. She enjoys cooking meals for two and making desserts for family and friends. What other pieces would you recommend? For the 5-piece set, I went with cassis since her favorite color is purple, and I'm looking for more in the same color. Thanks in advance for your help!

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    1. Their supposedly non stick skillets are often discussed here, and rarely get rave reviews, so you might avoid them. Sorry if you already have one.

      Other than that, it's all great stuff. The gratin dishes get a lot of use in our kitchen:

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robin Joy

        @Robin Joy: Le Creuset's skillets are neither non-stick nor "supposedly" non-stick. No claim made in any way for non-stick-ness.

        @KFark: If I were buying LC for someone, I would get the 5.5 qt. French Oven rather than the 3.5 qt. The smallest size I'd get would be the 4.5 qt., which I used for years without wanting something larger.

        I like the skillet more than some here do, but that's partly because it's not my only skillet (though it's the skillet I reach for 90% of the time). I use mine mainly for making grilled cheese or other grilled sandwich-y things, and sometimes for scrambled eggs. It's good to choose the right size for your burner. You don't want it to be too large. I prefer the 10" you bought to the 12".

        The LC skillet is not non-stick with the eggs (it is with the grilled cheese), but it's already on the stovetop, so I just use it and clean it out with a Dobie pad afterwards (it's not hard to clean at all). I have a huge dislike for having to season and reseason and reseason bare cast iron; I really appreciate not having to do this to my LC skillet.

        If your fiancee is a real purple fan, Williams-Sonoma's exclusive Aubergine color is a lot nicer than the Cassis, IMO anyway.

        So, in review, think about returning what you bought, and check these things out in Aubergine at W-S:

        Oh, and I like the little saucepan, too.

        I also use assorted au gratin pans and the large roaster for crisps, baked pasta dishes, and roasting a chicken. The large roaster is very heavy, however.

      2. Well, you have already bought the saucepan and the skillet, so it is too late for me to tell you not to. Personally, I just do not see a Le Cresuset saucepan being a good saucepan. I know it seems like I am pouring cold water on you which I guess I am, but I am curious if you can return these items. Nothing against Le Creseut the brand. Any enameled cast iron saucepan just seems off -- potential uneven heating, definitely slow heat response, and fragile -- all for a saucepan?

        I agree with Robin. I think Le Cresuset Dutch Ovens are always good, so feel free to get a 5-6 quart Oven, stoneware/bakeware dish like the grain dish is good. Now keep in mind that Le Cresuet stoneware may not be made in France -- if that is important to you. Another thing to keep in mind is that some of Le Cresuset bakeware are enameled cast iron, while some are pure stoneware (no cast iron).

        9 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Maybe she wants that set? She is new to cooking so I'm not sure she is up for all the minutae details between products.

          Having said that, I'm not thrilled with that set either. But then I don't see the point of the skillet and 3.5 oven is tiny unless you are only cooking single meals for 2 people. I have a 3.5 but it doesn't get nearly the use of my 7 quart oven, it's not like these pots need to be filled to be used. I have the precision pour saucepan though and I really like it. It's especially nice for side dishes that you want to stay warm due to the retained heat. I've had mine for probably 5 years and it is not delicate at all. It gets heavy use at my house. I do have clad stainless also though, for when I need the responsiveness.

          1. re: rasputina

            <Maybe she wants that set?>

            I agree. That is what I was thinking too, and it is difficult to say no to a request like this.

            I just did not think enemaled cast iron is a good design for saucepans or for skillets. There are a few compliants about the skillets on CHOWHOUND. Good to know that your LC saucepan works out for you. I guess I will say this. If the original poster already has a typical cladded (aluminum or copper based) saucepan, then having an additional enamel cast iron saucepan is fine. However, if he can only have one saucepan, then a fully cladded or disc bottom saucepan is probably more useful -- and likely to be cheaper too. Of course, there is always the question that "Do you need a 1.25 quart small saucepan (whatever material it may be)", but that is really another topic too.

            A French/Dutch Oven is good. 3.5 quart is bit small for most things, but it is possible for small dishes. Like you, I think a 5 quarts or larger is probably better.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              "Do you need a 1.25 quart small saucepan (whatever material it may be)", but that is really another topic too.

              I use mine a lot! That size really works well for breakfast. Korean noodles, veggies, and eggs is something I eat pretty often. Tasty, healthy, well balanced, fast, and easy ... Yum!

              I have some Spanish rice cooking in another one right now too!

              1. re: Sid Post

                < use mine a lot! >

                Really? I guess I don't have much use for a small pot like this, but that is really more about my typical recipes and me. It is good to know people find good usage for it. Last time I read, someone said they use his 1 quart saucepan to melt better or to boil 1 egg -- and I thought they are correct, but thoguht it has very limited usage. Anyway, the original poster and his fiancee surely know what size works for them.

                1. re: Sid Post

                  I too use my little 1 qt sauce pan a lot. I use my 1.5 qt quite a bit too. These little ones are not LC but stainless steel. But I love them for oats. Melting butter, warming up a can of soup, make a little bit of gravy, warm up a can of speghetti o's for my granddaughter, bring water to a boil for jello or something.....

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Before I bought the saucepan I asked my best friend that exact question, do I really need a 1.25 quart pan? She said she had one ( included in her cookware set wedding gift 20 years before) and that she used it a lot. I've found the same to be surprisingly true.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    I happen to have the small saucepan and use it almost daily. It is perfect if you are cooking for one or two...I create small concoctions with rice, couscous, vetetables or quinoa. It is an easy clean up and whatever I've made stays hot. If you have a family it would likely not be the best choice. I happen to love mine. My favorite pieces are the braiser, the oval 5.5 roaster and the wide round that is a newer size.

                    1. re: ellequint

                      Evidently, a small saucepan is very useful for many others. I guess I just have a very limited usage for one. When I do make a small quick meal, it is usually of noodle or instant noodle. As you can imagine, those instant noodles do not fit in a small opening pot.


                      On the other hand, I now remember I have a tiny small sand pot of 2.5 cups (0.6 quart) which I find to be helpful from time to time.

                3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Ohh, I sooooo want an LC enameled CI baking dish. With that said, I can't say enough about how much I use my 4.5 French oven. I also have a 7.5 for when the family comes over or freezing left overs. I am now saving for a 5.5 qt. I often wish I had one.

                4. If she's mostly cooking for 2 to 4 people I would get the 5.5 round oven which is their most popular all around piece. The 3.5 qt. buffet casserole in also very useful and the bottom part could also be used to make a tartin, upside down cakes as well as other baked desserts. I'm not fond of the stoneware as there are reports of it breaking in the oven for no reason. If you do want a stoneware piece I would get a rectangle that's closest to 9 X 13 which could be used for many things.

                  1. For saucepans, a multiply (not disc) saucepan is hard to argue against. I have used Tramotonia (Brazil/China), Calphalon (USA/China?), and Demeyere Atlantis (Belgium). Even heating is super nice and I really like the welded handles.

                    Next, get a small dutch oven (~4 1/2 quarts). They really get a lot of use. A 9x13 rectangular baking dish will see a lot of use in her kitchen too. From there, I would look at bakeware for cakes, breads, etc. The Paula Deen 3 piece knife set from Wal-Mart makes a great "stocking stuffer" for ~$18USD from Wal-Mart if she doesn't have good knives already.