Le Cruset – Dutch Ovens, Opps, French Ovens

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Le Creuset French Oven I find myself at times drooling with my mouth wide open when I enter culinary stores. I don’t know if it’s because I know that the items in the store make succulent dishes or because that some of these gadgets have some phallic representation. I’ll keep the phallic cooking gadgets for another post. For now, let’s talk about pots.

One of the other cool gifts I received this past holiday was a 4.5 quart Le Cruset dutch oven in Flame Orange. Sorry, not dutch oven, French Oven.

I had to test drive this puppy before I gave you a review. Here’s how they describe it:

Since 1925, Le Creuset has been handcrafting Enameled Cast Iron cookware, and particularly Round French Ovens (or Dutch Ovens), in Northern France. While this popular shape has been around for many centuries before that, the basic design has changed very little thus endorsing the cooking qualities that it provides. Generation after generation has come to cherish the Le Creuset Round French Oven’s quality, durability, and versatility, and it easily becomes the core piece in any well-equipped kitchen. The cast iron provides superb heat retention and distribution, and the enamel is hard-wearing and non-reactive, making the number of recipes that you can do in this pot endless: anything from savory rice to braised chicken to mouth-watering cake. Your imagination is the only limit!

First of all, I love the color. Okay color doesn’t cook. How does it cook? It’s amazing. For many years I thought cast iron cooking meant greasy black pans that haven’t been washed in years (yes I have one). The enamel on this pot makes it nonstick and from what it seems, this pot cuts cooking time in half. Oh and it’s non-reactive too. What does this mean? Well, reactive pans like aluminum and copper react to acidic foods, like tomatoes, to a point they change the overall flavor. This was a problem early on with cast iron pots where the pots were reactive and you couldn’t make any soups that were slightly acidic.

This pot comes with a lot of rules (I’ll list a few):

  • Performs well on all heat sources, including induction. When using products on glass or ceramic stovetops, always follow the manufacturer’s guidance for use of your cookware. It is important to lift the product across the glass when moving it. Do not slide it across the glass, or bang it down, both may damage the glass.
  • For marinating and storage, allow products to cool down before placing into a refrigerator or freezer.
  • Match the base size of your product to the heat zone as much as possible to maximize efficiency and ensure proper heat dispersion.
  • Low to medium heat settings will provide the best results for a majority of cooking applications, including frying and searing. High heats should only be used to either boil water for vegetables or pasta or for reducing the consistency of stocks and sauces.
  • Phenolic knobs and handles are oven safe to 375°F / 190°C. Cast Iron handles and stainless steel knobs can be used at any oven temperature and under the broiler.
  • Recommended cooking utensils are Le Creuset heat-resistant Silicone, heat-resistant plastic, and wooden utensils in order to protect the surface.
  • After use, let product cool down to room temperature before rinsing or washing. Do not fill a hot pan with cold water or plunge into cold water as thermal shock damage to the enamel may occur.
  • Handwash with hot soapy water, rinse with warm water and dry. Products are dishwasher safe, but handwashing is recommended. Constant diswashing may lead to some dulling of the enamel finish. The dulling is not harmful and will not impair performance.
  • If there are food residues, fill the pan with warm water and leave to soak for 15 – 20 minutes, then wash in the usual way. For stubborn residues, nylon or soft abrasive pads or brushes can be used. Do not use metallic pads or harsh abrasive cleaning agents as these will damage the enamel. Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Cookware Cleaner is recommended.
  • Dry products thoroughly after washing. Do not drain dry and do not store away while still damp.

From my experience, you want to follow any instruction on how to use and care for your products (reminds me of the time I put my high carbon knife in the dishwasher).

Don’t worry if you’re thinking of buying one of these and are concerned about the recommendations on keeping the heat level between low and medium. The medium works really well. Remember that you are using cast iron that retains a lot of the heat. You’ll still be able to get a nice crisp sear on your meat.

Overall, I’m really glad that I have one. Le Creuset is one of the best brands of cast iron in the world and has a long history that is passed on from generation to generation. In fact, my kids have already bargained on who’s going to get the pot. The other one is going to get Le Creuset in Black. Oh, I’d still take my Lodge cast iron on camping trips. There’s no way my Le Creuset will be used on a campfire.

Resources:
http://www.lecreuset.com
http://www.lodgemfg.com

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