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Cookware help

Hi...so I'm buying new cookware for my new place and I was wondering what is better enamel cast iron or cast iron. I love Le Creuset and all but I want to find an affordable alternative...if there's such a thing. I will be cooking more now than before.

Any suggestions where to look or buy? Website I should go to? ANY help you send my way would be awesome!

Thanks!

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  1. There is no one, best answer. Bare cast iron is great for some items, (steaks, chops, potatoes) not so great for acidic sauces that contain wine or tomatoes for example. Acidic sauces can deteriorate your seasoning and that can discolor your sauce. Cast iron can also have hot spots and is slow to react when you need to change your heat output. I find enameled cast iron is best for oven use, braising, roasting, casseroles or wet ingredient dishes on the stovetop, chili, stew, soup. There are lots of suggestions on CH for less expensive alternatives that have decent reviews. Lodge or Tramontina ECI are a couple that come to mind.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cam14

      Thanks Cam for the information. I'll probably go with the enameled cast iron b/c I'll be cooking more stovetop and oven food. However, what are your thoughts on the Rachel Ray cookware. I know it's not Le Creuset, but have you read any reviews on them?

      1. re: Jessy382

        I would avoid the celeberty cookware like the plague, most of it is junk made in China, junk regardless of where it's made. The Martha Stewart ECI was so bad Macy's had to pull it off the shelf until they found a new source. If you don't have the money for either Le Creuset or Staub ECI then look to Lodge Color (still made in China) it's probably the best or one of the best that's not expensive. A store owner I talked to wouldn't cary ECI that wasn't Staub, Le Creuset, or Lodge Color, because she had too many mad customers when the less expensive ECI chipped. Not that you can't chip LC or Staub, it just takes more effort on your part. Trimontina has had good reviews and seem like there was another brand made in France that was more reasonably priced and well made, jsut can't think of the name right now.

        1. re: mikie

          Fontignac is a well-known French brand of enameled cast iron. Their best line is "fleur de Fontignac." Doesn't have the wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes that you find with Le Creuset, but the prices are lower and the cookware is sturdy.

          1. re: texanfrench

            Also in their favor, they're not only a French brand, they're made in France (might have been implied in your post), And they're got the same parent company (Zwilling) as Staub and Demeyere.

            I've come to see that Zwilling doesn't do cheaply made cookware. Even their popular Spirit and Henckels Tru-Clad lines begin with very high quality class steel, at least as good as, possibly better than, the always popular All-Clad.

        2. re: Jessy382

          I haven't but I've been very happy with my Costco 6.5 qt. round Kirkland enameled oven that's made in France. One size only, but it's been used a lot over the last year and held up very well.

      2. no better, just different

        IME an Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven is desirable for braising and a raw cast iron skillet is useful for searing and sauté

        I would not purchase a complete set of either for starts - chose the right cookware for the right task -

        I would shop the bargain stores and avoid full price at specialty shops

        1. You can often find Le Creuset "seconds" at places like Marshall's & TJ Maxx. Prices are discounted quite a lot from first quality even though I don't see a flaw on the Dutch oven I bought. Still not cheap, but perhaps an alternative for you.

          1. Thanks for the information! I really just want to find a cookware set that is affordable and will last me a long time. Any other suggestions?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jessy382

              buy a good quality SS clad for basics - stockpot, saucepan, chef's pan - Calphalon tri ply IMO is a decent benchmark but buy the best you can reasonably afford

              add one or two ECI Dutch Ovens - one big enough for a chicken and one small enough for a side dish

              purchase one cast iron skillet or carbon steel pan

              purchase one cheap non-stick skillet if you like them for eggs (or just get your seasoning right on your CI/Carbon one)

              think about what you want to make and what you might like to use to make it?

              There is no "magic set" think of cookware as tools and pick the right ones to get the job done.

            2. There is no one best type of cookware. One enameled-iron pot should be enough to satisfy your yen for Le Creuset. Then look for other cookware to fill particular needs.

              1. WOW....I love all this info! Honestly, I can go now and peruse Amazon as well as TJ's and Marshalls to find these pieces!

                Thoughts on celebrity pots and pans. I like colors, so most of them have eye catching colors. Do they work or are they useless?

                9 Replies
                1. re: Jessy382

                  no not useless - generally made by another major producer, and just branded for that celebrity - usually MIC if that's an issue for you - it is good to go to the store and pick things up and handle them to get a sense of quality, weight, handle design etc

                  1. re: Jessy382

                    Honestly, most celeb cookware is pretty thin, cheap stuff and not worth your hard-earned money. But, if you shop carefully you can find some that's worthwhile, so why not? Saucepans are a good place to look, because we tend to abuse them less than we do frypans.

                    If it's a one-piece pan, look for something thicker than a nickel. Two pennies would be best. If it's got a disk bottom (there will be a seam around the base of the pan) look for one that's thick and covers almost the entire base of the pan. You don't want flames licking up around it and scorching food.

                    Be aware that with a color enamel exterior, you're likely looking at nonstick interiors. Use only safe utensils, be mindful not to put pointy things in it ever, don't put it in the dishwasher and avoid high heat like the plague unless you're boiling water. Be extra careful around the sink, that's where we tend to mess up by putting forks and knives into nonstick things.

                    If you baby your nonstick cookware it will last you 5 years, possibly more, depending on the quality of the nonstick surface. I'm guessing you'll want to change colors after a while, so it really doesn't need to last forever, right?

                    1. re: Jessy382

                      Hey Jessy,

                      Here's another thought. How about surrounding yourself with colorful bowls, and with bright stoneware for baking? That way you can have all the color you want (I love bright colors myself) and still buy things that will last a lifetime.

                      Even a handful of silicone utensils in a crock on your counter will provide color. Especially if the crock is in a complementary color.

                      These mixing bowls on my counter do triple duty; they're very good for mixing, great for serving and I think they give a perfect color pop to my kitchen. Got them at Sam's Club or Costco for about $30 for a set of 5. The 2 smallest ones sit inside the 2 largest so I've always got them handy.

                       
                      1. re: DuffyH

                        I love those bowls!!! I may have to go to Costco and find some! I want a colorful kitchen once I move and do like your idea on getting colorful bowls and stoneware. Any particular brand that is best that you use? I do love pampered chef but they are so monotone. However, love their pizza stone.

                        1. re: Jessy382

                          I like Le Creuset and especially Emile Henry for stone bakeware. Both are very sturdy and can go under the broiler. Both will go from freezer to oven, but the EH will go into a HOT oven from the freezer. LC has more colors. I've got about equal amounts of both. I scout sales to get them cheap.

                          When it comes to colorful bowls and serve ware I buy whatever strikes my eye, always looking for useful shapes and sizes.

                          1. re: DuffyH

                            I'm going to check all the stores for these items as well as Amazon b/c let's face it...they have everything. Thank you so much for all your help and info! I appreciate it.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              Emile Henry is indeed good quality stoneware and they seem to change their color pallet from time to time, so one can collect a nice aray of colors, although not partucularly bright colors. They had an eggplant color for a while I thought was nice for example.

                              Just bought an EH pizza/BBQ stone for the grill. Cooked a braciole on it just the other night. I like to slice them before I cook them, so they are cooked like steaks on the grill, but you need a solid surface so the filling doesn't fall out. Pizza goes on there tonight!

                              1. re: mikie

                                We've got the EH plancha, but Dude hasn't tried it yet. Good to know you like the stone. :-)

                                1. re: DuffyH

                                  Totally looking at EH stuff now....so much stoneware and in colors I love!!!

                      2. Good to know! I have these "starter" pots and pans that I bought at Target. You know the ones that are $40 bucks and bring a ton of stuff...you know which ones I'm talking about. Now that I'm trying to cook more...I want to have a nice and long lasting cookware set.

                        Other items on this list is knives and bakeware. Thoughts on those, but if you still have thoughts on cookware....lay it on me!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Jessy382

                          For loaf pans, muffin pans and the like, you can't go wrong with USA Pans. They've got a silicone coating that makes them absolutely nonstick (I don't bother greasing them) and makes them so easy to clean you feel like you could almost just rinse them out and put them away.

                          I got a few of these sheet pans from my mother; they're quite heavy and pretty much warp-proof.

                          http://www.amazon.com/Vollrath-5220-A...

                          1. re: DuffyH

                            Ooooohh I like the whole easy cleaning aspect. I will look into these!

                        2. That's exciting! I remember the day I brought home my first 'permanent' cookware because I've used it everyday since! I use 2 stainless steel pans as well as a small cast iron pan and my grandmother's very well seasoned large cast iron pan which is my favorite by far. It is as non-stick as a new non-stick skillet but also sears better than anything else I own because it is seasoned so well. Are you able to look at yard sales? People get rid of the great quality cast iron all the time and you can check back here for advice on seasoning properly if you need to.

                          I find that unless I'm cooking something very elaborate for a lot of people, I use the same oven safe skillets, both stainless steel and cast iron most nights and the other stuff only occasionally.

                          Good luck and let us know what you end up with!

                          JeremyEG
                          HomeCookLocavore.com

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: JeremyEG

                            Thanks! I'm excited as well. I really want to look for some good cookware and stoneware for my new place. Out with the old and in with the new you know?!

                            I'm going to def look at yard sales and flea markets b/c I know people tend to do away with stuff.

                            I'm just taking everyone's advice and opinions into this which I appreciate alot. I wish I knew about these discussions sooner!

                            1. re: Jessy382

                              Look for estate sales - when we cleaned out my mother's kitchen, we sold lots of cast iron and stainless steel pots and pans that were perfectly good.

                              My evil brother claimed all the Le Creuset.....

                          2. Debuyer. Mineral b carbon steel(99% iron) are a must for a new kitchen.

                            1. Naked cast iron for anything but acidic stuff like chili or spaghetti sauce or blackening hot peppers, etcetera. Tomato sauces in raw iron take on a "burnt" taste because they take some of that "burnt" seasoning. I don't mind it but I'd rather not. Enameled cast iron or stainless steel for the rest, in my opinion. I would buy Staub over Le Creuset for enameled. I've seen less complaints with Staub.

                              1. Ya'll don't know how much I love all your answers for this. I'm going a bit crazy looking for pieces for both cookware and stoneware. Honestly...this is SOOO going to help me in the long run.

                                I appreciate it more than you ever know!

                                1. <I was wondering what is better enamel cast iron or cast iron>

                                  They are different. It is like getting a sedan vs a coupe. You should get what best fit your need.