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ECI skillets - do they bring anything to the table?

I was wondering how people felt about enamel cast iron skillets along the lines of Le Creuset and Staub. Namely, I wanted to know whether people felt they offered anything that wouldn't be offered by a clad stainless steel or bare cast iron skillet.

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  1. <I wanted to know whether people felt they offered anything that wouldn't be offered by a clad stainless steel or bare cast iron skillet.>

    Not for me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      If you want an even heating surface (avoiding heat or cold spots) and a nonreactive surface, then a stainless steel cladded pan is better than an enameled cast iron pan.

      If you want stickless pan or a pan which can take up very high heat, then a bare cast iron cookware is better.

      For a slow cooking vessel like a Dutch Oven, an enameled cast iron construction if fine. For a high heat quick temperature responding cookware like a skillet, there are better options.

    2. Well obviously they are non reactive so that is a benefit over bare cast iron. But you get that with clad stainless also. They do keep food hotter longer than clad stainless though. I don't have any of the skillets, I do have 2 different sizes of the LC braisier and I usually use them for curries, pilaf, gratins ( before I bought gratin pans) any braised dish with a lot of acidic ingredients like meatballs in a tomato based sauce. I bought them before I had clad stainless and my main selling point was longevity and being non reactive.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rasputina

        The braisiers are better than the skillets. That new black matte coating they have in the LC skillets is not great. The original cream-colored enamel is already non-stick in my experience.

        1. re: ratgirlagogo

          <That new black matte coating they have in the LC skillets is not great. >

          What about the previous black coating?

      2. I can't speak from experience, but the new enamel on Le Creuset skillets is supposed to be an improvement, with better nonstick character.

        Cook's Illustrated liked the old enamel well enough, too.

        This is their 2007 review, with the older interior enamel:

        ""Pretty" pan was well proportioned and easier to handle than others. Sloping sides made eggs and sauce easier to scrape up. Achieved "beautiful crust" on steak and corn bread. On first test, eggs stuck ferociously, but results improved dramatically in second round, with minimal sticking. Can't use metal utensils or stack anything inside without damaging enamel finish."

        1. Hi, sancor:

          I've owned several ECI skillets over the years. IMO, these pans are neither fish or fowl. Their chief "advantages" are: (1) they don't rust like bare CI; (2) their owners like that they match their existing ECI; (3) they are less reactive than bare CI; (4) they tend to hold heat better than most SS clad; and (5) they LOOK like they clean up better than bare CI.

          Other than (2) and (4), these are not advantages over SS clad. ECI skillets *do* accept some "seasoning", but nothing as nonstick as bare CI.

          IMO and on balance, a good clad skillet is superior to ECI skillets.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. Pros over clad SS:
            Heat retention
            Style (subjective)

            Cons compared to clad SS:
            Can't use metal utensils
            Enamel can chip
            Possibility of thermal shock

            Pros over bare CI:
            non-reactive
            no need to season
            no rust
            can be washed like all your other non-CI pans

            Cons compared to bare CI:
            price
            all the others as with clad SS

            I really wanted to get an ECI skillet when I was searching for a non-reactive skillet, but ended up getting clad SS because the ECI, though much prettier, couldn't be shipped to me overseas, and I did want something that I was less worried about bashing around the kitchen.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Sirrith

              Sirrith,

              How about a report on your ECI skillet? Which did you buy? How do you like it? What are your favorite uses?

              I'll be your best friend and take you to the circus! :-)

              1. re: DuffyH

                You already owe me a circus trip, Duffy!

                And I got the SS instead of ECI for myself.

                My girl though, got a small LC ECI grill pan. We've used it a few times and it is surprisingly good, it gives a nice sear (on the grill marks anyway), delicate stuff like fish doesn't stick much at all, it is very easy to clean, and it heats quite evenly without any noticeable hot spots.

                1. re: Sirrith

                  I'm glad to know they can be relatively nonstick and easy to clean. That's really all I'm looking for.

                  Now about the circus.... you don't have a problem with clowns, do you? Kaleo is scared of them, so I had to cancel those plans. :-D

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    I'm not so much coulrophobic as coulrohomicidal. So we could still go, but I would want to feed the lions some tasty clownchow.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Dear man, what did clowns do to you that you want them dead? So much animus. Did one perchance whump you upside the head with an *ECI skillet?

                      *I'm SO on topic. ;-)