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.

Le Creuset 2.75-qt. Round Enameled Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, Caribbean

5 Responses to “Le Creuset or Cast Iron?”

  1. I totally had to laugh when I read about the cast iron and using water and paper towel to clean it. Hubby says his mom probably freaks out from heaven when she sees me put soap and scrub the ONE and only cast iron pan she gave him. I simply CANNOT just wipe and rinse, no way!

    That Caribbean blue pot is so pretty! Maybe we’ll splurge when we remodel our kitchen. We keep putting it off because we would much rather vacation in the Carribbean than spend the money to redecorate LOL

  2. I did the same thing when I first started cooking with cast iron pans. I do use hot soapy water on them to clean mine and they are working just fine. They still keep their slick finish. I do add a little vegetable oil on mine after they are completely dry, then wipe out any excess with a paper towel.

  3. I have about 6 cast iron skillets in a variety of sizes thanks to my mother and mother-in-law. I love them, and I clean mine like The Hillbilly Housewife and they work just fine. If you use the oil after they are dry, you don’t get the rust.

    I would love to get the Le Crueset, just can’t afford it right now. I did purchase a 5 quart Martha Stewart look a like at K Mart at a much more budget friendly price, the down side it was only 5 quarts. I long for the day when I can purchase a Le Creuset in one of the really big family sizes. Always wanted the old blue, but I really like that Caribbean Blue.

    • Jeanette says:

      Yes, the prices can be astonishing – that’s why I was so pleased to find this sale. And I didn’t even know that Le Creuset currently made so many colors! The few that I own are the plain old black, I’m afraid.

  4. Michael Keller says:

    Cast-iron cookware is grrrrrrrrrrrrrreat! A MUST for blackening, searing pot roast, and making a quick roux. I also roast all my poultry in a cast-iron pan; by initially browning the dark meat side and then roasting the boidy right in the pan, both dark & white meat are fully cooked at the same time. No more risking salmonella city from the dark meat just to get juicy white meat, nor perfectly-cooked dark meat at the cost of white meat requiring the gum that squirts refreshment. I got all mine “naked” (easy, fella!) – no enamel, no pre-seasoning. Over time, they’ve become virtually non-stick. And I’ve had no problem cleaning them with warm water, mild soap and a soft sponge. The trick is to dry it first, then put it back on the range (or into the oven) and heat it as high as it’ll go. Then, turn off the heat and immediately oil it with a thick layer of paper towels. By oiling it when it’s hot, it literally absorbs the oil as it cools – forming a natural coating.

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