Le Creuset Buying Guide
From Television shows to Magazines, we can all identify the iconic style and rainbow of colours of the Le Creuset enameled cast iron; But what can I do with all these pieces and what makes them so good?
Le Creuset cast iron is all individually sand cast to exact specifications, giving these pots great heat retention and distribution. When they are preheated they hold on to their heat to allow for perfect searing and browning. Because of the even thickness of the cast iron construction, it enables simmering or to slow cooking without any worry about hot spots; that heat will be perfectly distributed throughout the pot giving a nice even cook.
The other iconic aspect of Le Creuset is the beautifully coloured enameling. The enameling is a layer of powdered glass that has been melted onto the cast iron surface and is a non porous non reactive material that will protect the cast iron from rusting, prevent flavour transfers and prevents reactions with acids or basses in foods; so tonight's bread pudding won't taste like last night's beef stew.
The most well known and popular pieces from Le Creuset are the round french ovens and oval French Ovens. These are the perfect vessels for cooking soups, chilies, stews, and especially pot roasts. Being excellent for jobs where a low and slow cooking method is encompassed and also being perfect for dishes that will be cooked in the oven. The cast iron lid fits on the pot in a way as to retain most of the moisture in the dish but does allow excess steam to escape through little raised bumps on the under lip of the lid. If you have a dish that needs to be simmered for a long period of time, pop your pot into a 350F oven and you will achieve a perfect simmer without needing to baby-sit your pot, since your heat is coming from all directions. If you are looking to invest in your first piece from Le Creuset one of these should definitely be at the top of your list!
Second most popular would be their Le Creuset Braisers, as they are similar to the French Ovens but are much shallower and ideal for more versatile cooking. These are the perfect pieces to braise, which means you start by searing your product and finishing them covered in the oven usually paired with some sort of liquid. The shape of these pieces also works as a small open roaster or even as a small paella pan.
Next in line would be their cast iron skillets. These represent some of the most beautiful and versatile skillets that can be used on every type of range, from gas to induction; for preparing nice thick steaks to juicy chops. With this pan you are able to get a great crunchy crust seared into your steak and if it is too thick to finish off on the stove you can also finish in the oven at 400F until it reaches desired tenderness. Being completely oven safe this pan can be used for small casseroles, scalloped potatoes even skillet cookies.
The grill pans are similar to the skillets in that they are completely oven save and can go from the stove to the oven to finish off your steaks and chops. When using a grill pan however you are using radiant heat from in between the ridges as opposed to conductive heat from the steak or the chop directly coming into contact with the whole cooking surface. This means that you will need to preheat the pan a few moments longer to ensure that there is enough heat in the base of the pan to cook the steak perfectly. These pans are also great for grilling vegetables and small items without having to pull out the Bar-B-Que.
Known for their cast iron products Le Creuset also offers a wide variety of stoneware products that are available in all the same colours as the cast iron products. Allowing you to further expand your collection and complete all of your cooking and baking needs. The advantages of the stoneware are not limited to just the great colours; being made of heavy porcelain that allows for even heat distribution from top to bottom ensuring uniformed cooking. Not only will these pieces look great when serving, but the heavy porcelain will also retain heat better than other products like glass or aluminum resulting in a nice warm meal even when it’s been sitting out for a bit. Each piece is protected by Le Creuset’s signature enamel which helps protect it from marks and scratches while also giving it properties similar to non-stick bakeware; allowing you to easily remove food with little to none sticking to the bottom. The stoneware products are capable of withstanding a wide temperature range from -65°F – 500°F allowing you to go directly from freezer to oven – it should be noted that when doing this, place the piece in a cold oven and warm it up with the oven, as putting a frozen stoneware piece into an already hot oven will shock the piece causing it to fracture and break. But not to fear these pieces are also microwave and dishwasher safe allowing for quick meal prep and easy cleanup. Available in a wide array of sizes in casseroles dishes, pie dishes and coffee and tea items Le Creuset’s stoneware more than lives up to the reputation of Le Creuset.
Lastly Le Creuset does offer a wide variety of specialty pieces that are designed for specific functions; such as Moroccan tagines, woks, terrine molds and fondue pots. There are pieces that offer top of the line performance while also providing a great accent of colour and style to any kitchen. Whatever your needs and desires there is a Le Creuset piece out there to suit your needs.