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Wanted cast iron: was given le creuset

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I asked for a cast iron skillet for Christmas and was kindly given a le creuset enameled cast iron pan. However, after reading online about bare cast iron vs. enameled, i think i would have prefered the bare. But, I know that the LC is pretty expensive. Would I be crazy to return it and get a $25 lodge skillet? I have never owned cast iron before, but I like to cook. I wanted cast iron because I don't want the chemicals of teflon. Also, i want to make delicious crusty corn bread and nicely seared beef. Can I still do this in the LC? All the reviews seem to prefer the bare cast iron, so why would anyone pay 4x as much for a not-as-good pan?

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  1. For me your corn bread alone says,exchange it.You were gifted a lovely pan that would be my second choice to cast iron.

    1. i would want to make sure the pan you desire (or were gifted) goes w/ my cooktop surface -

      also - if you can find vintage at the rummage (cast iron) - go for it - tho again, what is your cooktop?

      i have been hankering after le creuset

      how come restaurants on all those shows can use the resto supply brand?

      8 Replies
      1. re: Georgia Strait

        I agree with this. Keep the enameled pan and find a good
        used Wagner Ware or Griswold at a flea market/antique mall.
        The vintage iron is much nicer than the Lodge.

        1. re: bbqboy

          But what is the point of having both? Should I just take the enameled back? I don't like having lots of stuff, I'd rather just have the one that is better. Or is there a time for the enamaled and a time for the bare?

          1. re: Barretts08

            You can do many more things with the LeCruset, just not make cornbread. I guess I'm a cookware fanatic though, so I could never have too many.

            1. re: bbqboy

              Why wouldn't Le Creuset work for corn bread? Makes no sense to me.

              1. re: Rick

                Of course it would work. I don't get this discussion. LC is good stuff, and that was an expensive gift, The real point of cast iron is that you can use higher heat and stability of heat. Season it properly then heat it up, turn off the heat, then cook eggs in the residual heat to see what I mean.

                Enjoy.

          2. re: bbqboy

            I couldn't agree more. Love my Griswolds and my LC. I thank my MIL for introducing me to both.

            1. re: bbqboy

              >The vintage iron is much nicer than the Lodge<

              This is a matter of opinion. Just because you like it better, does not mean that it is better. Though I have vintage CI skillets, I prefer my new model Lodge skillets and use them almost daily

              1. re: dixiegal

                I just don't think the iron used in newer frying pans can match
                that of "vintage" ones from the golden age of skillets.
                Subjective, I know.
                Now I'll have to look for evidence to back this up. :)
                This guy agrees that the grain was finer in the old days,
                but again, it seems to be just his opinion.
                http://www.eattheweeds.com/cast-iron-...

          3. Enamled cast iron is like a quasi non-stick cast iron.

            Bare cast iron can give you better results but LC will give you more consistent results with less hassle.

            If you don't season and properly take care of your bare cast iron pans then you have rust in your food.

            That is much much worse than any "chemicals" from non-stick.

            BTW Restaurants generally use medium quality cookware. Stuff that works but owner need not worry about mistreatment or theft. Disposable. Cost of doing business. Most chefs cook on much nicer cookware at home than at work. Same goes for cutlery.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DeeAgeaux

              that's a really good point about the maintenance required for good ole cast iron - and how strong one has to be to use it.

              if the Lodge is "only" 25 dollars - get both and try it and let us know

            2. When I was young, I was so proud to buy a "batterie" (set; sounds much more impressive in French) of Le Creuset. The only piece I didn't use was the skillet. It is useless for crusty cornbread (which is not something I even knew about 30 years ago, in Montréal) and many other dishes.

              I'd suggest you return the pan for another Le Creuset model of about the same price- a small dutch oven, or a slightly flatter model good for braises. Nude cast iron is not really very good for things with a tomato, wine or lemon base, like a lot of braises. Le Creuset and similar lines are unequalled for long slow braises.

              Then save up for a Lodge skillet or search church and charity bazaars and garage sales. I bought a lovely, huge one, for 50 cents (Canadian - but about at par with US now) at a bazaar. It was too big for my needs but made a friend very happy.

              4 Replies
              1. re: lagatta

                I don't know how long it's been since you were young ;) but Le Creuset has just recently changed their interior enamel surface so that the release is much improved. I too don't use traditional non-stick, and have a Le Creuset skillet on my list to buy. Based on my experience with the new finish, I am unsure why there are a couple people saying this isn't a useful piece. Is there something I'm missing?

                1. re: foiegras

                  Decades. I'm a boomer. Funny, I was looking at Le Creuset at a cookware shop near my house, and didn't notice anything different about the interior surface; is that only in the skillets? (I wasn't looking for a skillet).

                  1. re: lagatta

                    Well, supposedly, the newly launched "Signature" (at least more than a year if not two) has a few improvements, including being more resistance to chipping and staining. Not sure about food release, but it may as well:

                    "Optimized for steady, even heat, Le Creuset’s improved enamel interior resists staining, dulling and wear and tear."

                    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                    Another discussion:

                    http://www.chefsresource.com/le-creus...

                    1. re: lagatta

                      It would probably be difficult to notice it visually, though I think it may be a bit shinier than before? But in practice, in my experience, the difference is night and day. Whoever worked on the new formula really earned their paychecks. There oughta be a James Beard award for this kinda thing ;)

                2. Since you say you like to cook and don't seem to want both pieces, I'd say keep the Le Creuset. You can do just about anything with it that you can in a cast iron plus a bunch of things you wouldn't do in cast iron. For example I made osso bucco in my Le Creuset last night, wouldn't have done that with my cast iron.

                  1. IMHO, the only enameled piece worth owning is a Dutch oven - it's wonderful for braised dishes & stews. And based on what you said you plan to make in your cast iron pan, I'd return the LC skillet and get what you really wanted.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Amen, Sister!

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        agree, good health, but they also have a slightly flatter pot with a lid and a shape a bit more like a "flat-bottomed wok" that is also great for braises and stews. People living alone who will probably not be entertaining more than a total of four people don't need a big one. Le Creuset calls one of these pots a "soup pot", though it is actually better for braises.

                      2. keep the LC and go buy yourself a CI skillet. If you go to a thrift store you can probably buy a good one that needs to be cleaned and reseasoned. Run it throught the cleaning cycle of your oven and then reseason using bacon fat, shortening or lard. Heat slowly wiping it out every 10-20 mins. It'll be ready to go quickly and probably better than some of the "pre-seasoned" skillets on the market.

                        1. Barretts, you seem to have your heart set on cast iron, so since you aren't interested in both skillets, go for what you want.

                          I thought you might like to know that you can get a crust on cornbread with lots of different type vessels, for example, even an aluminum bread pan. The crust is a function of heat and fat. For example, take your baking vessel and rub it down with butter (or other fat) and then put it in a hot oven for 4 or 5 minutes. Then, remove from oven and pour your wet cornbread batter into the vessel. It is the room temperature batter hitting the layer of very hot butter in the pan which creates the crust on your cornbread. It's a very easy technique, you just have to remember to do it. Merry Christmas.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pinotho

                            Agree completely. Hot melted butter (or bacon grease,) just below the smoke point will make a great crust no matter what kind of pan. I've done it in a disposable aluminum pie pan - maybe not ideal, but there was a crust. The LC shares one property with the CI, and that is the mass. If you have that hot fat in a hot pan, its not going to drop to room temperature as you pour the batter in.

                            Not sure who gave you the LC, obviously someone who thinks highly of your cooking. Might be best if it didn't disappear right away, although trading it for a dutch oven (mom had hers for years till it got knocked off the counter when it was hot and it shattered.)

                          2. You can buy a new Lodge skillet between 10 and 20 bucks in many stores, depending on size. I'd just buy whatever one you want. I'd exchange the LC one for something more useful. I own many pieces of LC but I don't see the point of their frying pan/skillet.

                            I do love my Griswold pans, but I wouldn't wait to cook in cast iron until I find the perfect one. Get the Lodge, use it and hunt for the perfect Griswold.

                            1. <Would I be crazy to return it and get a $25 lodge skillet?>

                              A bare cast iron skillet, in my opinion, is better for what you want to do -- making cornbread and searing meat. You can always return your Le Cresuet to the store and exchange for something else expensive, and get yourself a bare cast iron on your own.

                              Now, Lodge has a few cast iron lines of skillet. There is the classic Logic, which I am sure you know. There is also the Pro-Logic which has a longer handle, and curved shape.

                              http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Pro-Logic...

                              1. This is a high-class problem.

                                Every type of surface has things it's good for. Cornbread is typically made in plain cast iron. Le Creuset has other strengths--and it is good for searing, particularly the new surface that's so easy to clean.

                                Since what you want is so inexpensive, I would keep the Le Creuset and just buy the inexpensive pan, unless you're absolutely certain you won't use the LC. I probably do most of my cooking in Le Creuset ... there's not a lot it's not good for. You could check out some of the Le Creuset threads to get a better idea of how people are using it.

                                1. I agree with others...... There is just something magical to a bare ci skillet when it comes to searing meat and making cornbread. However, I own many pieces of le creuset ovens and braisers. I would exchange skillet for a different piece. I would highly recommended a braiser/ buffet casserole. I use my braisers almost every day. I can make decent cornbread in them, but I prefer bare for it. I use my braisers as skillets, casseroles, fry pans, and to make risotto. I also use the ovens but not everyday.

                                  1. What nice dilemma. : ) I have a LC dutch oven and it's nice enough but I do love my CI skillets. I sometimes feel that if an inexpensive pan will do the job as well or better than a fancier item, why not go with the cheaper one. I love how CI gets better the more you use it. There aren't too many things like that that I can think of.

                                    Also, maybe you guys can answer this but can you put a LC under the broiler if you need to? If I'm searing a steak or fish in the CI pan, I love that I can throw it under the broiler for a few minutes with no problem if I need to. I wasn't sure if the LC can be used like that and of course I don't have much occasion to put my dutch oven under the broiler.

                                    Happy Holidays everyone!
                                    JeremyEG
                                    HomeCookLocavore.com

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: JeremyEG

                                      <There aren't too many things like that that I can think of.>

                                      Agree. I believe only cast iron and carbon steel cookware get better the more you use them. Effectively, a one-week old cast iron skillet is better than a brand new cast iron skillet, and a five-years old cast iron skillet is better than a one-year old one.

                                      <can you put a LC under the broiler if you need to?>

                                      Yes, you can. The knob on the cover is not broiler-safe, but other than that, a LC should able to endure a broiler. It may discolor the LC, which I am sure many people are sensitive to this, but function-wise, there is no reason why it cannot be done.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Thank you.
                                        JeremyEG
                                        HomeCookLocavore.com

                                        1. re: JeremyEG

                                          LC sells an oven safe knob that is cheap and easy to attach,

                                    2. I have a lot of both (cast iron and LC) and if it was me I would keep the LC and then get the $25 lodge myself.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        I bought my CI stuff at Sears 40 years ago. I don't think it has a brand. It was cheap and lasts forever. No need to return the LC, just buy the Lodge yourself.

                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                          I would buy a Lodge skillet and return the LC skillet for an LC dutch oven.

                                          1. re: dixiegal

                                            I will second this suggestion. A small oval LC or Staub dutch oven is very very nice. The enameled surface lets it work with acidic foods (lemons, tomotoes, etc.) which I use mostly with large cuts of meat and stews/soups. Go to Wal-Mart of someplace similar and spend ~$25USD for a new Lodge 12" skillet and you will have the best of both worlds.

                                        2. "so why would anyone pay 4x as much for a not-as-good pan?"
                                          because it was your lucky day...
                                          because maybe they did research too...
                                          because LeCreuset is an incredible product...
                                          keep the LC and go spend $25 on exactly what "you" want.
                                          better yet walk some thrift/charity shops and get a good old big used one-already seasoned/broken in and half price of new

                                          two birds-one stone

                                          1. Anything you can cook in bare cast iron, you can cook in enameled cast iron and vice versa, including corn bread and seared beef. Some people prefer enameled cast iron because it does not require seasoning and can be scrubbed with soap and water. I use my bare cast iron even for acidic things like tomato sauce. Never had a problem.

                                            The only situations in which bare cast iron might do something that enameled cast won't do, are those requiring the pan to be placed in a very hot oven and only then if the particular enameled cast iron has components, like a knob or handle, that melt at high temperatures.

                                            1. One reason to have both pans is that the bare iron pan is reactive and the enameled pan is non reactive. If your looking for a reason