April 13, 2016

Le Creuset

(From L to R) 2 quart round dutch oven in Carribean Blue
11.75 inch skillet in Carribean Blue
6.75 quart oval dutch oven in Cobalt
There are certain material milestones in my life that mark significant stages. For instance, when I bought my own luggage (instead of borrowing my parents') made me feel like an adult, almost as much as moving out and renting my own place. The Christmas when my mom gave me my cobalt Kitchen Aid stand mixer elevated my baking to a whole new realm. My small kitchen suddenly looked spectacular with just that one addition sitting beautifully on my counter. Purchasing Le Creuset cookware is such a milestone. My first time cooking with my dutch oven, I pretty much knew it was love - the kind of passion that will last a lifetime. 
No joke, I said spontaneously out loud, ecstatic - "It's like being in a cooking show!" I seriously felt like Ina Garten.  

What is about Le Creuset that sends me into such raptures?

Primarily it's all in the way the food cooks and tastes. There was no comparison with my nonstick aluminum pots and pans. The enamel cast iron pieces distributes heat evenly.  I can take my skillet or dutch oven from stovetop to oven to the table and it looks wonderful every step of the way. If I'm having guests for dinner, I don't have to transfer the food onto a pretty serving platter - it's already in a table-ready vessel.  
The quality is undeniable and immediately apparent. I had been given a Martha Stewart enamel cast iron round dutch oven some years back, which I have only used three times because the results weren't amazing at all. Quality always tells and my Le Creuset pieces will last a very long time.  I envision bequeathing my (hopefully someday large) collection to my great-grandchildren.  These are heirlooms.

The cast iron pieces come in either sand enamel or black enamel on the inside. All the skillets have black enamel for browning, searing and frying. All the sauce pots, braisers and dutch ovens have sand enamel, for dishes requiring some sort of liquid.  
The lids come with black phenolic knobs which are only safe up to 375 degrees. I immediately purchased the stainless steel knobs ($15-$17, depending on the size) as replacements, which are safe up to 550 degrees. Make sure you get the right size knob for each lid, as they vary.

If you somehow forget what size your dutch ovens or sauce pots are, inside the lids are some helpful numbers. Some of them have the US size, in this case 6 3/4 quarts. The other number, across from "France" corresponds to individual sizes as well.  Here is a helpful site which deciphers it for us.

There are some conditions to cooking with Le Creuset enamel cast iron. First, do not ever use any metal or steel with it - no metal spatulas, no wire whisks, as it will degrade and scratch the enamel.  Stick to wooden spoons and silicone.  Next, the handles do get hot so always have a potholder nearby.  Third, they are heavy so you might be in danger of developing toned arms if you cook with them every day :)

While I use these three pieces weekly, sometimes daily, I am dreaming of my next acquisitions. There are so many sizes and so many fun and gorgeous colors to choose from, I know I will have constant fuel for collecting for many years to come.  On top of my wish list are:
5.5 qt round dutch oven in Cherry
9" skillet in Soleil
5 qt braiser in Indigo

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