My grandmother always cooked with cast iron cookware. It matched her personality, she said. I remember watching her “clean” the cast iron with hot water and paper towels. Soap, she explained, would remove the finish and ruin the pan. The knowledge that the pans were never cleaned with soap and each one had a bit of rust on them nearly ruined my dinner.
Later when I began learning to cook, I realized the advantages of cast iron. They were durable, versatile, inexpensive, held their heat a long time and distributed heat evenly. But they were ugly as hell and I just couldn’t get past that no soap and rust thing. Then the Food Network entered my life and opened my eyes to chefs like Emeril and Sara Moulton using a Le Creuset Dutch Oven.
I learned that these things can be used for sauteing and browning, then go right into the oven. You can roast in them, deep fry in them, and they are the best for stews, chili, gumbo – anything slow cooked. They cook more evenly than that giant chicken rotisserie machine at Costco because of the way they are made. The base, side walls and lid are all of the same quality and thickness which keeps the cooking temperature even and consistent. These same features mean that heat is lost very slowly from a Le Creuset, keeping the food hot for some considerable time. And WAHOO – they are enamel coated so they don’t rust and I can use as much soap as I bloody want, and they look gorgeous in any of the 9 colors.
There is a bit of a learning curve with this kind of cookware. Since they hold and distribute the heat so evenly, I had to turn down the temperature on the oven and stove for some recipes, which makes energy efficient, too. Which was good, because the major disadvantage to Le Creuset is the price. They are expensive. After I considered the advantages (including the 101 year warranty) and that I was buying something nearly indestructible, I waited for a sale and splurged. I’ve purchased three different pieces now and never regretted it.
Isn’t the new Caribbean color gorgeous? They don’t go on sale often, especially not in the more popular colors, let alone in the brand new colors. I’ve found a great deal for you, with 30% off or free shipping at COOKING.COM. Splurge a little. Your kids will fight over the inheritance of your cookware.