Le Creuset bakeware is widely considered to be some of the best cookware in the world. Knowing how to use it will have you looking like a true pro in the kitchen.
With Le Creuset bakeware, what you get is the best of both worlds. The heavy duty, durable, cast iron pot, coupled with a strong enamel coating that not only removes the hassle of cleaning and seasoning bare cast iron, but also transforms the pot into something that’s very safe to use.
As the National Institutes of Health states, ‘chronic toxicity associated with the use of enameled cookware under normal circumstances is extremely low and negligible’.
For best results, think of your Le Creuset bakeware more as a slow cooker or crockpot, rather than an ‘everything pot’.
These products are know as ‘dutch ovens’ or Le Creuset prefer to call them ‘french ovens’. But they are essentially referring to the same product. The classic definition is a cast-iron pot with thick walls and tight-fitting lid causing heat to be trapped inside the pot. This mechanism keeps the food cooking when moved from the heat source and your meal warm for much longer than if it were cooked in traditional pots and pans.
The real advantage of these pots is the enamel coating. While a slow-cooker will do the job, if you slow cook acidic dishes often (meaning if you slow cook with wine, tomatoes, lemons and the like) the acidic foods eventually react and wear down the stainless steel whereas they will not react with the enamel coating.
Here’s a guide to using your Le Creuset stoneware at low temperatures, protecting the pot and creating perfect results every time.
Getting Great Results at Low Heats
One of the main concerns people can have is that cooking at low temperatures won’t produce optimal results. I find using Le Creuset stoneware as a type of slow cooker or crockpot creates excellent results for stews, casseroles and curries. In fact any cooking where you want that really rich flavor to develop.
Browning meat, thickening sauces, cooking rice or potatoes? Here are a few tips to ensure you get great results, even when using at lower temperatures.
- For browning or braising meat or thickening sauces, the secret is to heat the pot slowly but consistently on the hob, until the pan reaches the ideal temperature. A temperature that starts to seal the juices into the meat, or begins to boil a sauce or stock. Once this temperature has been reached, the pot can be transferred into a moderately warm oven where it will continue to cook with even heat distribution, rather than through the heavily concentrated heats of the hob burner.
Note: Cooking slowly and steadily usually produces even better results than quick hob cooking, as it gives the flavors a chance to really develop. (Think about how a curry or chilli always tastes better the next day because the flavors have had a chance to develop).
- For rice and potatoes that need to be boiled on the hob, rather than baked in an oven, Le Creuset bakeware is still an excellent choice. As with meats or sauces, slowly bring the water up to boiling point, and then pop the lid on and turn the heat right down as low as it will go, or you could even turn it off completely. As long as there’s a tight seal between the pot and the lid, the food will continue to cook in the steam.
Why buy Le Creuset bakeware
- Le Creuset are well known and respected brand for this type of cookware and offer a wide range of hard anodised products.
- Made in France with high quality standards
- Available in a range of sizes and shapes to suit your cooking style and needs
- Long-lasting exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking
- Light interior allows you to see cooking progress
- Available in a range of great colors
- Excellent lifetime warranty
While there are much cheaper options and brands available in the market, these products are a valued, quality addition to your kitchen and should last a lifetime.
Knowledge is Key
If you’ve seen reviews about Le Creuset stoneware saying it didn’t really live up to expectations, it could be because they weren’t using the pot in the correct manner. It’s important to understand the ways in which Le Creuset stoneware should be used to ensure longevity of the pot, and get optimal baking results.
Enamel-coated pots do need to be treated with care and attention. The underlying cast iron conducts and retains heat very well, with the metal expanding when exposed to heat, and contracting once cool. The cast iron needs to be heated slowly and consistently which encourages the coating to stretch. Rapid heating can cause the metal to expand too quickly, creating cracks in the enamel. These cracks, which are sometimes so small they can’t be detected, are the main reason cooks struggle to use their Le Creuset stoneware.
Cracks which expose the bare cast iron can cause food to stick to the pan, and can even contribute to the formation of rust.
Like all things knowledge is the key and understanding why enamel-coated pots need to be treated in specific ways is the secret to boosting the longevity of your pot, and producing delicious, mouthwatering meals each and every time.