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Le Creuset - First Timer

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Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 06:58 PM

Hi All,

I like to dabble in cooking and have had LC on my wishlist for quite some time. I'm not interested in having a big collection of ECI because I don't have the storage space. So, I was trying to determine which pieces I really need, whether they should be oval or round, what sizes, etc. This past week I visited the LC Outlet. I purchased the 5.5 round french oven, the 7.25 round french oven, and the 3.5 braiser at the LC outlet The color I liked was on sale for 40% off at the outlet. (Which is why I purchased more than just one piece.) These were all first quality, and I paid a total of $494.00. I think I got a good deal. But, I've heard that the best deals are at TJ Maxx and Homegoods, etc. In any event, I know LC lasts a lifetime, and I would like your input as to whether or not I should consider different pieces than the one I chose. (I've got 45 days to return the items if I need to :)). This is a pretty expensive purchase for me (Christmas and Birthday Gift!), so I'm not interested in starting a vast collection of LC. I just want a few good pieces. Please give me your opinions.

In case the below is helpful:

I like to cook soups, stews, beans, etc. I've never braised meat, but there's a first time for everything! I currently cook meals enough for two, but I can see in the future having to make meals for 3-4 people (shout out to my future kids! LOL). Also, when I cook now, I usually make enough for leftovers for the next day. Also, I currently have the Emerilware stainless steel cookware set.

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  1. m
    mikie RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 07:03 PM

    I've Staub, but approximately the same pieces, I believe you have chosen well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mikie
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      Chilidogs RE: mikie Oct 22, 2013 08:37 PM

      Thank you so much!

      1. re: Chilidogs
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        mikie RE: Chilidogs Oct 24, 2013 09:57 AM

        I'm compelled to elaborate a bit more on the size of the pieces I have and how and how often they are used. My pieces are Staub, just what I happend to prefer, so the sizes are not exactly the same as the LC sizes. Also I would like to add that I strongly believe these two brands to be superior quality to the lower cost brands. A conversation with a store owner convinced me of this when she explained that she wouldn't handle the low cost brands as she didn't want to deal with customers who were unhappy with the performance (chipping mostly) of the lower cost brands.

        I have a 2.75 qt. round cocotte, a 5.5 qt. round cocotte, a 8.75 roudn cocotte, and a 2.75 qt. braiser. The small 2.75 round gets the least use, it's a great cocotte, but only for side dishes, it's just too small for what I consider to be "regular" french oven use. The 5.5 round gets the most use, it's just a great size and has a lot of flexability with what will fit in it. The 8.75 round is all the cocotte you want to handle, it gets used more than one might think, it's great for making large recipes of stews and soups, and for things like shrimp creole. The 2.75 qt. braiser gets used quite a bit, but sometimes I wish I had the larger 4 qt. model. The one I have is great for a fratata though.

        Good luck with your new cookware and enjoy!

    2. greygarious RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 08:12 PM

      I see that this is your first CH post so I don't know if you've searched this board for any of the scores of threads on LC and cast iron cookware in general.

      LC keeps putting out new colors as a way to induce people to buy more pieces than they need. Handled with care, cheaper brands (the ones I have) will last more than a lifetime, so I consider buying LC to be frivolous and spendthrift. Unless you have a family of 8 or more, you'll never need more than one 4qt and one 6+ qt Dutch oven.
      Period. Either the smaller one should be naked cast iron, or you should also have a 10-12" naked frying pan.

      15 Replies
      1. re: greygarious
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        Chilidogs RE: greygarious Oct 22, 2013 08:38 PM

        Thanks for responding. Yes, I am new to the CH community. I've lurked this site over the last two weeks and have read a few threads on dutch ovens. This is how I came to the three items I bought. While my family is small and the 4qt would work if I cooked every day or so, I'd rather cook only once or twice a week. Also, I have four siblings and plenty of nieces and nephews! So, whenever the Thanksgiving rotation comes to me, I figured I could use the three pieces in conjunction. However, I don't host often enough to justify the price/storage space of a larger piece (of any brand) - nor do I want to bench press my cookware!

        I completely agree that a LC brand dutch oven is not a "need." I bought this brand because it was what I wanted. :)

        I'm going to look into getting a naked frying pan. That's a good idea! Here's a beginner's question - what do you mean when you say naked frying pan? I'm assuming you mean no enamel, right?

        1. re: Chilidogs
          Sid Post RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 08:50 PM

          Naked -> Lodge cast iron from your favorite big box store

          Or De Buyer Mineral cookware ... I know it's a sickness really ..... :-D

          1. re: Sid Post
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            Chilidogs RE: Sid Post Oct 22, 2013 09:18 PM

            Ok. Thanks for explaining to me! I'll check into that.

          2. re: Chilidogs
            Chemicalkinetics RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 08:58 PM

            I agree most of what greygarious has said. You have bought the most useful pieces from Le Creuset. Among the 3 pieces, most people will find the 5.5 Quart to be the more useful one.

            Le Creuset enameled cookware, in many ways, are as much cookware as they are art pieces. This is both a praise and a criticism. It is a praise because the cookware are well made and are beautiful. It is a criticism because a major attribute has nothing to do with cooking, but has to do with fashion, and much of the extra price tag has to do with that.

            Greygarious probably meant non-enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, like bare cast iron Dutch Oven:

            http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I...

            Or cast iron or carbon steel fry pan. Good examples are Lodge cast iron and DeBuyer carbon steel. Though, they are far from the only choices.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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              Chilidogs RE: Chemicalkinetics Oct 22, 2013 09:19 PM

              Thanks! This was a really helpful explanation!

              1. re: Chilidogs
                Chemicalkinetics RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 09:30 PM

                When it comes to Le Creuset, the best cookware to get are the Dutch Ovens (or they are called French Oven) and the casseroles and braisers. This is because enameled cast iron is a relatively good design for slow cooking.

                Fry pans and skillets are not ideal. The worst is probably the Le Creuset woks.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                  Chilidogs RE: Chemicalkinetics Oct 22, 2013 09:52 PM

                  Yes, that's what I have been reading about their pans and skillets. I never paid attention to their woks, but sounds like I should stay well away from them! LOL. Thanks again.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
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                    JohnMD1022 RE: Chemicalkinetics Nov 1, 2013 12:50 PM

                    We have an older, non-enameled, cast iron LC wok.

                    It is great.

            2. re: greygarious
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              debbypo RE: greygarious Oct 22, 2013 10:24 PM

              I respectfully disagree with you regarding size. I generally cook for 3-4 and have no problem using the 7.5 quart quite often. I love having leftovers, inviting friends for stew or chili and I make a lot of vegetable stews that have bulky ingredients. I think the o.p. made excellent choices. The other think I'm enjoying is my grill pan with the panini press topper.

              1. re: debbypo
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                Chilidogs RE: debbypo Oct 22, 2013 11:16 PM

                Thanks! I have a grill pan, but I don't have the panini press topper. That sounds like a fun piece of equipment!

                1. re: debbypo
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                  rasputina RE: debbypo Oct 23, 2013 12:30 PM

                  I completely agree, and I cook for 3 on a daily basis. My 7 1/4 qt is my most used piece ( and I have quite a collection) I actually wish I'd gotten the 9 qt and have eyed the goose pot for years. But I tend towards batch cooking and planning for leftovers and my husband is a hunter. I rarely cook food for just one meal.

                  1. re: rasputina
                    sherrib RE: rasputina Oct 23, 2013 12:36 PM

                    +1!
                    I also wish I had the 9qt (I made soup in the 7 1/4 qt on Friday and it was filled to the tippy top AND I was admonished by my oldest for not having enough broth.). I lust for the goose pot as well.

                    1. re: rasputina
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                      dixiegal RE: rasputina Oct 25, 2013 03:51 AM

                      Same here Rasp. I always cook for leftovers and use big pots. I use my 4.5 qt LC the most for dried beans. Makes enough for my husband and I to eat on for about 3 or 4 days. My 7.5qt is used for big batches of chili, soups and stews. If I need more, I will use my 4.5 qt too. I think an LC bigger than 7.5 would be more than I want to handle. I have to wash my 7.5 in the bath tub as it is. I also use my lower sided wide round oven a lot too. It is the size that was discontinued. I think it is 6.5. The only other size I want is a 5.5 qt and the cast iron rectangle baker. Since having my LC, I seldom use my bare lodge DO. I only use it to roast or braise meat. And for convenience sake, I often go with my slow cooker for that. Though cooking in the CI def taste better.

                    2. re: debbypo
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                      ratgirlagogo RE: debbypo Oct 24, 2013 01:16 PM

                      I have a 5.5 round and a 7.5 oval and use both of them all the time. If you don't cook meat on the bone, as Sid Post says, you probably don't need an oval in any size - and sometimes I wish my 7.5 were round instead of oval. I also have a 3.5 Martha Stewart dutch oven which is kind of a POS (inside of lid chipped in multiple places, etc.) but honestly it's kind of an odd size for a dutch oven - too small for anything but side dishes - and I don't feel any need to try and replace it with a superior one in that size.

                      The one piece I would consider adding is some kind of round casserole/braiser, because it would be nice to have something I could use as a stovetop to oven roasting pan the way I do my bare Lodge cast iron skillets that is non-reactive. When I see some kind of deal on that kind of piece, I will probably get it - but I could happily get by without it.
                      My experiences cooking with LC have been completely positive - whether you could get the same bang for less bucks with old Descoware, etc. I don't know since I've never used them, nor have I used Staub.

                      1. re: debbypo
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                        JohnMD1022 RE: debbypo Nov 1, 2013 12:53 PM

                        We cook for two.

                        A 7.5 LC is the starter pot. It gets filled with spaghetti sauce, chili, beef stew.

                        After a couple of meals, it gets transferred to a 4.5 qt Descoware pot and finally to a 3 qt Descoware.

                    3. c
                      Chilidogs RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 08:34 PM

                      I meant to post this comment elsewhere. I'll repost. First timer CH user woes :)

                      1. kaleokahu RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 08:36 PM

                        Hi, Chilidogs:

                        I say quit now. IMO, these are the 3 most versatile LC pieces, and show off ECI's disadvantages the least. Personally (after owning most of what LC made), the only one I'd keep is the 5.5.

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kaleokahu
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                          Chilidogs RE: kaleokahu Oct 22, 2013 09:21 PM

                          Based on the replies I'm seeing (and the valuable opinions), it sounds like I should definitely quit now. No one has stated any additional pieces that I need so I'm happy with the choices I made. Thanks for weighing in!!!

                        2. Sid Post RE: Chilidogs Oct 22, 2013 08:43 PM

                          You made good choices so, please don't take any of my comments negatively.

                          I own Le Creuset and Staub both. I find the oval pots most useful because I do cook boned meats. I find the 4 quart oval the most used ECI pan by far. I normally cook for one and find this size pan is great for a "reasonable" amount of left overs. Oval's cook beans, potatoes, etc. just fine though, I think beans and casseroles "present" better in a round oven.

                          When I bought my first Staub piece, I never purchased another piece of LC ECI cookware. I still use my LC but, I'm actually considering selling it to buy a few more Staub pieces. Also, don't forget to pick up a few key pieces of Lodge "raw" cast iron. It is cheap and makes a great filler for sizes or pieces you don't have in other cookware. Don't worry about storage, there is always room in the closet or garage for the ovens and pans you don't use often.

                          Will you actually use the 7 1/4 quart oven? That is a really large one and other than Thanksgiving or Christmas, I doubt you will use an oven that large on anything close to a regular basis. Consider trading down to a 4 quart oval. That one is great for chickens and all sorts of boned meats and small roasts. The 5 1/2 will cover larger stews and batches of chili or beans.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Sid Post
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                            Chilidogs RE: Sid Post Oct 22, 2013 09:26 PM

                            Thanks Sid Post. I asked for comments and opinions so I won't take any of them negatively. (I just weigh them differently :)). Yes, I'll actually use the 7 1/4 quart. I made a big batch of soup in my 6 qt stock pot last week and barely had enough room.

                            I'm going to take your suggestion to get additional pieces in the Lodge "raw" cast iron. I'm thinking at least I should get one cast iron skillet.

                            You guys are a wealth of knowledge! Thanks everyone!!!!

                            1. re: Chilidogs
                              DuffyH RE: Chilidogs Oct 23, 2013 06:44 AM

                              Chilidogs,

                              I've got a suggestion for the raw cast iron. First, get yourself a 10" skillet. I imagine you'll want to cook some biscuits and cornbread to go with your soups and stews, yes? Cooking for 2-4 people, the 12" is overkill. It's great for frying, but you can just as easily batch fry in the 10".

                              I've got a 12" and frequently find myself using a ceramic baker when I'd just as soon use a skillet. I've just been too lazy to go buy and season another skillet. Maybe this winter.

                              1. re: DuffyH
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                                Chilidogs RE: DuffyH Oct 23, 2013 10:01 AM

                                Okay! Thanks for the tip.

                              2. re: Chilidogs
                                Sid Post RE: Chilidogs Oct 23, 2013 08:31 PM

                                If you go to Walmart, look in the kitchen area and sporting goods for Lodge cast iron. I've been to Walmart stores from Virginia to California and find some stores only put the Lodge cast iron in the kitchen cookware area and others that only stock them in sporting goods.

                                A 10" Lodge skillet will run ~$20 plus or minus a little depending on where you shop and live. This gives you an ~8" flat in the bottom and is a good size for breads and biscuits. I used a 12" model more generally because I was cooking meat or frying in it. I'm probably a little out of the ordinary using a 32cm De Buyer Country Pan when cooking for one so, factor that into my size preferences.

                                If you find you need a larger dutch oven, consider getting a Lodge which is relatively cheap in comparison to French enameled cookware.

                              3. re: Sid Post
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                                JohnMD1022 RE: Sid Post Nov 1, 2013 12:54 PM

                                We have a 6 qt Descoware oval with the autumn leaf pattern.

                                It has become a display piece, as we never use it.

                              4. sherrib RE: Chilidogs Oct 23, 2013 06:20 AM

                                You have made very good choices. I own both the 3.5 quart braiser as well as the larger 5qt one. The 3.5 is perfect for one cut up chicken (without much veggies added.) I have three kids and I eat leftovers for lunch every day. One chicken doesn't cut it anymore. I used the 5 qt one last night for one and a half chickens and made veggies separately (I make big batches of veggies as well.) Keep this in mind, especially if you like to make big batches of things, which, as your comments suggest, you do.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sherrib
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                                  Chilidogs RE: sherrib Oct 23, 2013 10:02 AM

                                  I will certainly keep it in mind! Thanks for letting me know.

                                  1. re: sherrib
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                                    rasputina RE: sherrib Oct 23, 2013 12:32 PM

                                    I have both the 3.5 and the 5 qt brasiers and my 5 gets more use but it's nice to have the smaller one when needed.

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                                    ButterYum RE: Chilidogs Oct 24, 2013 11:26 AM

                                    I think you made a wise purchases - they're a good range of sizes and you'll have them for decades.

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                                      mwhitmore RE: Chilidogs Oct 25, 2013 10:16 AM

                                      You have chosen well, grasshopper. The only trade I might make is 5qt oval for the 5.5 round, for oblong pieces of meat or whole birds. But you certainly don't need it. As others have said, avoid ECI skillets. Lodge certainly works, but more versatile is www.olvidacookware.com ten-incher, my most used piece.

                                      1. j
                                        JohnMD1022 RE: Chilidogs Nov 1, 2013 12:48 PM

                                        LC is nice stuff.

                                        However, a 7.5 purchased new cracked in the first year. I'll send it back before the 25 year warranty expires. :)

                                        Descoware can be purchased on ebay for a comparative song. They were purchased by LC in the 1960s. Julia Child often featured Descoware on her shows.

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                                          acssss RE: Chilidogs Nov 1, 2013 12:57 PM

                                          I have about 5 pieces of their cookware and use them ALL THE TIME for everything from braising meats to soups but the one I love best of all and use the most is their square oven baking dish - no matter what you bake in it, you can clean it in a cinch and it bakes evenly.

                                          Just make sure that with any of them that you don't overheat/burn - if food burns and sticks to the bottom, you can ruin them.

                                          Good luck and happy cooking!

                                          1. f
                                            foiegras RE: Chilidogs Nov 3, 2013 08:10 AM

                                            I believe in keeping cookware pared down myself, and have a small LC collection. Aesthetics are important to me, and I expect all my things to last forever. So why not plunk the money down for what you really want to use and live with for the rest of your life.

                                            I have two identical sauce pans (Aubergine, one from the outlet), which I find quite useful for things like vegetables, rice, etc. The LC responds to heat very differently than stainless steel, and sometimes the LC effect is really preferable for when I want to start prep/when I want the meal to be ready. The LC really hangs onto the amount of water I put in it, whereas the stainless steel can easily boil half of it off if I wander away briefly.

                                            I have a small Dutch oven in a discontinued size that I really like.

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                                              nararabbit RE: Chilidogs Nov 3, 2013 08:14 AM

                                              The only thing I would suggest is a frying pan/skillet. They're 40% off right now (in all the colors) and I LOVE the pour spout on the side of mine! Make your sausage, pour off the fat and make your gravy ;-)

                                              Confession: I work for LC PT. Strictly out of love!

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