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Newly married with lots of le Creuset - Which pieces should I keep?

I'm newly married and received a number of le creuset pieces as wedding gifts. The problem is I'm not sure what to use them all for. I've seen a lot of suggestions to use the dutch ovens for cooking roasts, or meat. However, I'm a vegetarian. Are the french oven pieces even going to be useful to me considering I do not cook meat? Please help! Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

French Oven Pieces: I have the 3.5, 5.5 and 7.25 round french oven pieces. Do I need them all? And if so, for what? Maybe I should just keep the 3.5 and 5.5 size pieces?

Every Day Pans: I have the 1.25 qt which I love. I also have the 3.5 qt. Will this piece be more practical than the french oven?

Skillet: I want to like this piece, as I tend to do a lot in a frying pan. Is this piece worth it?

Thanks a lot. I'm a novice in the kitchen and am excited to experiment but don't want to be stuck with tons of things I'll never use.

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  1. Well... personally I would only keep the 5.5 and 7.25 round dutch ovens and the skillet. The 5.5 is a good every day size, and the 7.25 is perfect when you cook for a crowd.

    The other pieces are perfectly fine, but the knock on Le Creuset is that they are heavy (cast iron) and you have to treat the enamal coating as like a non-stick surface. I think you'd be happier with a tri-ply stainless steel pans -- they're lighter, can take more abuse and you can stick them in the dishwasher.

    With that said, Le Creuset make a terrific product so if the weight isn't an issue and you treat the enamal coating like a non-stick surface, you should have many years of enjoyment with the pans.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wanker

      Thanks!

    2. The ovens are good for soups and stews and pots of beans. If it was me I'd keep the 5.5 and the 7.25 I find the 7.25 to be my most used piece.

      Every Day pans? Is that what they are calling the brasier? I don't find them to be a substitute to the ovens at all. I have 3.5 and 5 qt.

      I wouldn't bother with the Le Creuset skillet. I'd get clad stainless, bare cast iron or copper instead.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rasputina

        I think that you are right, that the EveryDay pans are what they're calling the brasier. They certainly wouldn't be a substitute for the ovens, but they'd be a great substitute for the skillets, since they have the regular enameled surface and not that weird black nonstick-type surface that the skillets do.

        1. re: rasputina

          The ovens are wonderful and useful in various sizes. I'd forget about the skillets and perhaps get some De Buyer mineral pans if you're up for caring for them properly. The braiser pans are excellent though. Not only for braising, but they're nice for roasting and are perfect pans for large potato gratins that can be served at the table.

        2. I am also a vegetarian, and I use Le Creuset all the time. I use it for rice - plain and things like risotto, beans - we eat no canned, so I make lots of beans from dried, chili, Indian dishes like chana masala and soups. I use Le Creuset for almost anything. It's great when you need to have things cooking for a time and you don't want it to scorch.

          I do likely use my Le Creuset in the oven less than meat eaters. In the oven I use it for bread and for bean dishes. There's an awesome bean dish in a Jack Bishop cookbook that is cannellini beans with garlic and rosemary cooked in the oven for 90 minutes. So good.

          As for sizes, I have similar sizes to what you got except I have the 4.5 instead of the 5.5. I use the 4.5 the most, but the big size is good for bread and crowds. The smaller size is good for smaller dishes and things like oatmeal. It depends on what you cook.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Ranier

            Thank you so much for the advice! I'll look for that recipe in the Jack Bishop Cookbook. Would you say that the 7.25 qt isn't really necessary? I don't cook a ton and it's just me and my husband.

            1. re: Willhelmina5

              I would keep the 7 quart because they are really expensive and you may not want to pay for it at a later time. It is great for the popular and easy no knead bread as well as cooking other artisan type loaves like the Tartine loaf. You can also make a giant batch of something like chili and freeze portions for quick dinners.

              The Jack Bishop (I really like his cookbooks) recipe I mentioned is in his book called "The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook."

              1. re: Ranier

                Thanks a lot. So can all the french oven pieces be used in the oven for casseroles and on the stove top as well to cook soup, rice, pasta, etc?

                Clearly I'm clueless but am so grateful for the advice as I start to learn.

                1. re: Willhelmina5

                  All the french oven pieces can be used in the oven and are good for things like braising. That's why so many like them for meat.

                  For the no knead bread, you may need to change out the knob. Some are okay for higher temps, and some are not. You can either use a different metal one from the hardware store, or get a high temp one from Le Creuset.

                  I wouldn't cook pasta in a LC because it would be SO heavy with all the water in it. But, yes, you can use it for everything you mentioned.

                2. re: Ranier

                  I agree. I'm also a vegetarian, and have a 3.5, 4.5, and 7.25 french ovens. I use the two smaller ones far more than the 7.25--to the extent I don't even keep it in my tiny kitchen. I find the 4.5 big enough to cook chili, curry, stews, soups, etc for the two of us plus leftovers. (I also mostly use them on the stovetop.) I only use the 7.25 when cooking for a big group. But like Ranier said, it's an expensive piece and if you have room for it, my guess is that you'll be glad you have it.

                  I also have a 3.5 braiser, which I don't use that often, but probably would if it fit on my stove better. And since you already love the 1.5, you'll probably find uses for the 3.5. You probably don't NEED it, but it's nice when you're cooking something that doesn't need the high sides of a french oven ... like shakshuka (eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce) or even just carmelizing onions in the oven. And, of course, braising.

                  It may seem like an overwhelming array, but other than the skillet, which I can't get too excited about, you have a nice set of pieces that I suspect you'll use regularly, even if some pieces less frequently.

            2. Keep them all. As your cooking experience grows you will eventually use them, and you don't want to have to go buy them later.

              10 Replies
              1. re: TroyTempest

                I'd second that recommendation; if you're new to cooking you don't yet know which pans will be the most useful. As long as you have space to store them, hang on to all of 'em, and start cooking!

                1. re: kcshigekawa

                  I'll third that. Le Creuset is beautiful cookware and expensive cookware. If you have the space, keep it all. Nothing worse than giving it away and then needing it later.

                  1. re: jjbourgeois

                    Very true. Of all the pieces you mentioned the only one I don't think is very good is the skillet, as others have said. For one thing if it's like the ones I've seen it can't go into the oven, unlike all the other pieces, which makes it less useful than a steel or bare cast iron skillet. But even with that, you should just use it for a while and see how you like it.
                    As far as the larger size pieces go, I predict that you are sooner or later want to be cooking large amounts with the idea of refrigerating or freezing for later. And braising isn't just for meat! You're going to be braising beans and legumes even more than an omnivore would, and Le Creuset is great for that.

                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                      <Of all the pieces you mentioned the only one I don't think is very good is the skillet>

                      I agree. The Ovens are good, but the original poster will need to decide if three are too many.

                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                        <the only one I don't think is very good is the skillet... For one thing if it's like the ones I've seen it can't go into the oven>

                        Mine goes in the oven fine. In fact, that's about all I use it for: cornbread and roasting chicken. Are you thinking of the ones with wooden handles, ratgirl? Mine is just cast iron and enamel--no wood.

                        Mind you, OP, I'm not trying to make the case for you to keep the skillet, just that it goes in the oven safely and effectively.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          I have I one too which I never use. It can in fact go it the oven.

                          I only use uncoated regualr CA skillets.

                          1. re: Jay F

                            Hi, Jay:

                            Even the wooden handled ones *can* go in the oven--you just have to take a minute to remove the pommel/loop, handle and interior rod.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: Jay F

                              Yes, I was mostly thinking of the wooden handled ones. Kind of stupid since I'm not sure they even make them anymore.

                      2. re: TroyTempest

                        Ditto.

                        1. re: TroyTempest

                          This is that I think too. Keep them and learn to use them. At a later date, you might decide to get rid of some. If you get rid of some of them now, you might regret it later.

                        2. Hi, Wilhelmina:

                          Long ago and far away, I also received a large number of LC pieces as wedding gifts (and also added some pieces). It took me about a year to realize the saucepans were bad, borderline terrible. It took another couple to realize the skillets were also mediocre, the largest ones being terrible for stovetop use. IMO, of the common pieces, only the ovens perform well, and then only *in* the oven.

                          Now, the only pieces I use any longer are: the 5.5Q round oven, the pate terrine, and the fondue pot. The only (but frequent) use of the oven is for no-knead bread, and the terrine and fondue are used only a few times a year.

                          The thing about the better ECI is that it's expensive to acquire, loses its value like a cheap car, and is not very versatile. The best that can be said for it, IMO, is that it's pretty, popular, and has an inert cooking surface.

                          If I were you, I would keep the 5.5, and exchange everything else to fund better stuff--unless you think a generous family member would have their feelings hurt if their gift wasn't front and center.

                          Aloha,
                          Kaleo

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            Thanks for the advice. At this point, I don't cook much, but am anxious to start. I've heard the skillets aren't very good and think I'll exchange those.

                            1. re: Willhelmina5

                              I like my LC saucepans, but then I actually like cast iron cookware.

                          2. Here's an idea: Send whatever you don't want to me. In fact, don't stress over it. Send it ALL to me! I loves my Le Creuset.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                              Or to me!! I'd keep them all.

                            2. If you registered for them, can store them easily, and plan to use them, keep them all. You'll be doing yourself and the givers a service, and you'll find that good, complete sets last for years. No reason to give/sell anything if you wanted it in the first place.

                              If some of the sizes showed up without request, sell, trade, re-gift, whatever you choose.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Rigmaster

                                Dude, your jammin' my groove.

                              2. <Are the french oven pieces even going to be useful to me considering I do not cook meat? >

                                Yes, still very useful, especially for slow cooking ingredients like beans.

                                <French Oven Pieces: I have the 3.5, 5.5 and 7.25 round french oven pieces. Do I need them all? >

                                Depends what you like to cook, the 5.5 quarts is the most useful size for most people. If you like to cook regularly, then 3.5 quarts is good. If you like to cook with a lot of left over, a 7.25 quart is good.

                                I am not a big fan of Le Cresuset skillet. It will take paragraphs to explain. In short, a regular stainless steel cladded fry pan will work better in term of easy-of-care and heat distribution and a regular bare cast iron skillet will work better in term of being nonstick and taking on high heat.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Le Creuset is cast iron that doesn't rust. The results are superb. I love it.

                                  1. re: flavrmeistr

                                    <Le Creuset is cast iron that doesn't rust.>

                                    Bare cast iron cookware after seasoning should not rust neither. As a matter of fact, it is much easier to fix a rusted bare cast iron cookware than to fix a chipped enameled cast iron cookware. Meanwhile, a seasoned cast iron cookware is more nonstick than enameled cast iron. Bare cast iron can also take on higher heat, higher thermal shock and physical abuse.

                                    If we have to pick a strong point compare to bare cast iron cookware, then I would say that enameled cast iron cookware can handle very acidic food, and without iron (metal) taste. On the other hand, there are many other cookware design which can get around this -- like the stainless steel cladded fry pan.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      "As a matter of fact, it is much easier to fix a rusted bare cast iron cookware than to fix a chipped enameled cast iron cookware."

                                      I have a chip (With a small amount of rust) on the top of a lid of an enameled CI pot, how would I fix that?

                                      I'm asking this because I'm worried the lid is going to rust/deteriorate over the years and you seem to have some sense of how it can be fixed.

                                      Thank you in advance.

                                2. I'm curious. Did you register for all this LC? What did you have in mind if you did? If so, then you'll figure it out over time. Maybe. I pretty much use my LC-equivalent DO only.

                                  1. If you're able to do an even exchange where the LC was bought, keep the ovens, or at least the 5.5 qt., and get a credit for the rest.

                                    With the credit, I'd buy:

                                    - a 3 qt. saucepan made of tin-lined copper or All Clad stainless (tri-ply)

                                    - a skillet that's the right size for your cooking habits and your burner (I like my All Clad 10" rather than the 12"); again, I'd choose the tin-lined copper or All Clad.

                                    I have to run right now, but I'll probably think of some other stuff later.

                                    1. First of all, best wishes for a long and happy marriage. There are two points of view: One, you can't have too much ECI, which can do just about everything. Two, you really need only one or two pieces, and are better off with copper, tri-ply, blue steel and plain cast iron for other types of cooking. If you cook stews, braises and soup in quantity and freeze, I would keep the 7.25, which can also double as a stock pot, deep fryer and pasta pot (scoop the pasta out, don't try to turn it out into the colander).

                                      1. I use my LC all the time, except for the frying pan. Not sure what advantage it has. I don't have anything bigger than a 6 quart and use the small sizes quite a bit. I also have a set of All Clad Copper Core and basically don't use it in favor of the LC. Is everything in a color you like?

                                        1. I'd DEFINITELY keep the 5 and 7 French ovens. You'll use them a lot and give them to your children

                                          I might also keep the smaller French oven.

                                          I'd absolutely trade the everyday pans and skillet in for some quality stainless steel.

                                          1. We have Staub, a different brand and slightly different sizes, but the concept is the same. We have small (2.5 qt.) medium (5.5 qt.) and large (8.75 qt.) cocotts and they all get used. I like to make large batches of soup and freeze it for latter, the 8.75 qt. holds a double recipe of Julia Childes French Onion Soup. I can brown the oniions in it and cook the entire recipe all in one pot. I use the braiser we have quite a bit, I cook a lot of fish in it, some of those dishes go in the oven after the stove top. Frying pans are pbobably not the best for enameled cast iron. The small oven is great for baked beans and other small dishes. The 5.5 is the work horse.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: mikie

                                              <Frying pans are pbobably not the best for enameled cast iron. The small oven is great for baked beans and other small dishes. The 5.5 is the work horse.>

                                              It is amazing that these points have been reiterated by many posters.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                "It is amazing that these points have been reiterated by many posters."

                                                Well, I supose the facts are the facts.

                                                However, I did use the Staub braiser the other day to sear some tuna. It has the hex pattern in the bottom and I used it rather than a grilpan. I needed to brown the tuna, then saute shalots, garlic, and capers and reduce with white wine and lemon juice, then the tuna goes back in for a couple of minutes. It's a great cooking impliment for such work.

                                                1. re: mikie

                                                  Hi mikie,

                                                  If you have a chance, please stop by this post about PVC pipe and cheese.

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/901901

                                                  Much appreciated.

                                            2. I see that nobody has yet mentioned using LC for bread (no knead or artisan types).

                                              Also - I have 2 (older) LC saucepans and I use them all the time and have for years. I really like them.

                                              I recently bought an 8 X 10 (or so) rectangular baking dish that was an outlet clearance piece; very nice.

                                              I have some vintage small au gratin dishes; they make a very nice presentation for various items like au gratin potatoes, mac/cheese, etc.

                                              I'm with the person who said to send anything you don't want to me. :-) I'm old and my LC has really stood the test of the years.

                                              The only negative I have to say is that the larger pieces are quite heavy.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: eliz553

                                                Hi, Liz: "I see that nobody has yet mentioned using LC for bread..."

                                                Well, I did. See my May 9th post above. It's a good use for the mid-size ovens.

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                1. re: eliz553

                                                  I use my 3.5 qt for no knead bread.