Le Creuset cookware has been a staple my kitchen since I was a little girl. My mother used their cast iron dutch ovens and their cast iron pans for as long as I can remember. And when I got married there were Le Creuset pieces all over my wedding registry. And you know what? I still have all of them. It’s a testament to the quality and the craftsmanship that is Le Creuset that I still use these pieces every day. And I’m still buying more all the time. It doesn’t hurt any that they look fantastic.
The colors they offer are gorgeous and the enamel is unbelievably high quality. There were 2 founders of Le Creuset – one was an expert with enamel and the other was an expert ironworker. And it shows in the product almost a century later. The basic pot or pan is made of a high quality cast iron which heats quickly and evenly while the exterior is enamel. There is art and science behind both but for me the proof is in the cooking. I have certain Le Creuset pieces that I wouldn’t exchange for anything. The colors change all the time and Le Creuset retires colors from time to time. But one constant is the color they call Flame – it is their classic, their signature color and is the one that they started out with a 1925. I know a lot of people like to collect one certain color and try and get all of their Le Creuset pieces to match, but I have a little bit of everything and I like it that way.
Cooking With Le Creuset
I love the whole story behind Le Creuset – 2 expert craftsman joining forces and building a better mousetrap so to speak – and I love the esthetic they bring to their cookware and through it to the kitchen, but ultimately it’s all about how it cooks. This is why I really fell in love with Le Creuset in the first place and why I love it more now than ever before. Like I said, I have some Le Creuset pieces that are getting close to 20 years old and if anything they cook better now than they did when I got them. It’s like the first 15 years was just a warm-up and now they are in fine mid-season form. The beautiful thing is that they don’t look old – the enamel on the exterior is still bright and vibrant. It you looked at one of my older pieces next to a new one it would be difficult or impossible to tell which was which.
Still, it’s the cooking. Cast iron pots are great for cooking, for roasting, for baking, and for simmering all kinds of soups and stews. The iron heats evenly and retains heat well. So you use cast iron in a situation where you want to retain the heat – baking, roasting, etc. I would not use it where you need to regulate heat very quickly – say a very delicate sauce – for that you want copper. And iron can safely go from stove to oven to table and back again. On the outside Le Creuset has enamel which doesn’t chip and maintains its luster and color and vibrancy over a long long lifetime even with heavy use. I have even seen Le Cresuet in a commercial kitchen where it is getting used and abused 12 hours a day, 7 days week and even there it just keep going and going.
As many of you know who have followed me for awhile I have these love affairs with certain types of cookware. And there are things I love about All Clad – a lot things. But I want to contrast All Clad with Le Creuset. They are both great. But they are both different. I realize that Le Creuset now offers a line of stainless steel cookware – All Clad’s traditional territory – but I want to focus on their core cast iron products. Interestingly, both company’s were formed by people with technical backgrounds in metals, not cooking. That said, when it comes to your day to day life in the kitchen, you use them differently. I love my stainless steel and my copper from All Clad for sauces. And, for example, I will sear my steaks in an All Clad pan but I prefer to make a frittata in my Le Creuset pan because it will be going in an out of the oven. I live to bake my cakes in All Clad cake pans, but I bake bread and pastries in the Le Creuset.
Similarly, I will make sauces – especially my bolognese sauce or my 3 meat sauce for pasta – in my All Clad stockpot, but when it comes to braising meat or cooking stews or soups I am going with my Le Creuset pots and dutch ovens all day long. And just about anything you would do in a crockpot you can do in a dutch oven on the stove or in the oven. If I have the time and patience I will do my pulled pork this way rather than in a crockpot and it comes out a little nicer. I also love the dutch ovens and the roasters for doing whole chickens, ducks, and turkeys.
Over the years Le Creuset has added some new items that I also really like. Their stainless steel cookware is quite nice, but I really like their unique pieces. They make a very nice wok, great tea kettles, and some serving pieces like the aubergine that I love. But it’s some of the unique things that really excellent. In particular is the tagine. It is a North African cooking device it sort of looks like a chimney and it is used for slow cooking. The chimney-like top – which has a hole in the top to allow oxygen in – is designed to promote condensation on the inside so that whatever you cooking stays moist and flavorful. It is unusual looking that most people stay away from it, but it is really simple to use and meats cooked in a tagine come out perfect.
I have to say something about Le Creuset’s bakeware just because of its high quality. I have my specific pans that I use for cakes, but for almost every other type of baking I love my Le Creuset and Emil Henry. They have similar qualities but for things like bread, pastry, muffins, terrines, and tarts, I love the Le Creuset.
There are a lot of options, but the one thing I can attest to have used Le Creuset – and used it hard – over many years is that the quality is always very high.