Fact: I have yearned for an 11.75-inch Le Creuset skillet for-like-ever.
Sure, there are other well-respected cast iron cookware manufacturers—like Staub, and Lodge—but for me, the gold standard has always been Le Creuset. Staub is about as expensive, but without the range of colors. Lodge is affordable, but it’s traditional cast iron and not enameled, so it requires seasoning (and the careful preservation of that seasoning), which I’ve never been able to commit to, mentally or physically.
And while I know top-notch cookware is a worthy investment—my All-Clad stainless set is still going strong after 16 years—sometimes spending that much on cookware (when I’d rather buy shoes or a bag) hurts a little. So year after year, I have caressed the occasional Le Creuset skillet while in stores like Sur La Table (LOVE that place); pondered its heft; and wondered if I even had it in me to manage the art of cooking in cast iron. I have to admit: I was intimidated.
Like most, I learned to cook from my very talented Greek mother and father—who rarely every write down a recipe, since Greeks don’t do that—and above all, never, ever cooked in cast iron, because Greeks don’t do that either. So when it came to understanding how to make a cast iron skillet work for me, it was up to me and Google. But anyway.
Recently, a Le Creuset outlet store opened in my neck of the woods, and that coupled with one-too-many searless filet mignons meant that I could no longer resist the siren call of that Flame cookware, Le Creuset’s signature color since 1925. Within a few days of the store opening, I headed off with my mother to check it out. Once I set foot in this mecca of Le Creuset deliciousness and heard about the store opening discount (which was off-the-charts good), the deed was done. I left with with the coveted skillet, plus a few other pieces to start my Le Creuset collection…
I’ve had my skillet for a few weeks now, long enough to have learned how to cook with it and clean it, and I’m in L-O-V-E. Here’s why…
Reasons Why I Love My Le Creuset Skillet
1. There’s no need to season. Because this is an enameled cast iron skillet, there is no need to season the skillet with oil, or worry about maintaining the seasoning. I took it out of the box, washed it in soapy water, and cooked with it, immediately. Instant gratification.
2. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING cooks meat better. Poultry, beef, pork…they all come out perfectly seared and moist. I will never cook meat in any other pan again.
3. It goes from the stovetop to the oven, at any temperature. Excellent for frittatas, the aforementioned filet mignon, casseroles, you name it. No warping, no melting.
4. It takes very little heat to get very hot. You actually use less electricity or gas to yield better results than a stainless pan. On the stovetop, I cook nearly everything on medium or just under, and because cast iron is a master at heat distribution and retention, it’s like a magic formula. Bacon renders without spattering grease all over the place. Chicken browns while retaining its juiciness.
5. It’s FRENCH. I mean, we all know the Frenchies are the masters of cooking (at least in my opinion). If they swear by this line, we should too, non?
6. That color. How can that stunning orange not make you excited about cooking?! It’s like a ray of light in my kitchen, and happens to be my favorite color other than black and grey.
7. Cleanup is easy. After cooking, fill the skillet with warm water and let it soak a bit. Any bits that left in the pan are easily removed with a non-scratch dish sponge.
8. Non-stick, with no PFCs. The satin black interior finish of a Le Creuset skillet develops a patina over time, so the more you cook with it, the more non-stick it becomes, without toxic chemicals.
10. It lasts forever. Cast iron, in general, is the stuff of cooking lore; beloved, decades-old pans are often passed from generation to generation. Sure, I may not have anyone to pass my treasured Le Creuset collection to…yet…but I know it will be with me ’til the end. Do the cost-per-cook on that one.
Do you use cast iron cookware? Any memories about cast iron-cooked meals you care to share?