A Heavy Pot

A heavy-bottomed pot will take you anywhere. Stew. Soup. Braises. Roasts. No-knead bread. Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. You can sear a steak in it, if you want. I not infrequently use mine to toss a salad when my larger mixing bowls are otherwise occupied. Le Creuset, with its enameled cast iron, is the undisputed king of this category: their pots are well-constructed, distribute heat evenly, and last for absolutely ever. There are many imitators — Staub, Emile Henry, and Mario Batali all make enameled cast-iron cookware, and they’re not bad. But they’re not Le Creuset.

My pick: I have a truly ancient round French oven from Le Creuset, which I inherited from my great aunt. It’s so old that instead of the black plastic knob on the lid, it has a an enameled iron handle that’s welded to the lid. It’s stamped with an F, which indicates its volume: 5.5 quarts. It’s the classic flame red-to-orange color, which I didn’t pick myself because of the inheriting-it thing, but even if I had been able to choose the color, I’d have gone with this one. It is to all other Le Creuset enamel colors what all other enameled cast-iron ovens are to Le Creuset. Which is to say: the hands-down winner.

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4 responses

  1. I agree, although I love my Staub which I specifically chose because I liked the size and shape over the competitors. It isn’t rocket surgery, they’re all good it seems. I’ve added with other enamel cast iron and have been converted. My mother-in-law still has her LC set from the 70’s.

  2. I have to agree with Tyla, while Le Creuset may have the marketing power, Staub has been used in European kitchens for forever. Also, the lid is heavier, and it comes with a metal knob, unlike the current Le Creusets with their plasticky knob. If you want to do any high-heat oven work, you have to order a replacement knob for Le Creuset, as the other one will melt above 400F.

    When I was shopping for a Dutch oven, I really liked the heft of the Staub lid, as well as how it all seemed to fit together much better. However, yours has the advantage in that it has a history and was far cheaper than mine!

  3. I happen to very much prefer the now-discontinued 5.5 qt Calphalon version with the cast-in handles ( http://gemmaseymour.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/braised-whole-chicken-with-ginger/ ) that I purchased on a clearance rack for 25 USD simply because it had three miniscule chips in the enamel on the outer side of the lid from being a display unit. True, it is “Fabrique en Chine”, but I’ll just have to live with that, and pocket the extra 250 dollars I saved over buying a new Le Creuset, and note that Le Creuset’s very pretty line of crockery is all made in China, as well. The Calphalon pot I have also has the little nipples on the underside of the lid that supposedly help with self-basting. I don’t know if that’s true, but they do make the top a bit harder to clean, while not interfering with my cooking. The cast-in handles mean that I don’t have to worry about it being oven safe to 500 degrees, and I don’t need to worry about knobs falling off, which I have found to be always a problem with bolt-on knobs.

    As I am also a fan of my Lodge model 8CC Combo Cooker, I think I’d also like to pick up the Le Creuset version, since no one else makes an enamelled combo cooker, to my knowledge.

    I am also becoming enamored of Castey, from Spain.

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