It took me many years to finally buy a Le Creuset pan, but I’m glad I finally did.
Every holiday season, Marshall’s carries Le Creuset pans, called “second choix” which sounds so much nicer than “irregular.” I always ogle them and think about buying one but reject the idea. (It’s kind of scary that I’m so familiar with Marshall’s merchandise patterns, but there you have it.) There were many good reasons to forgo buying a Le Creuset pan. They’re heavy, especially when filled with food. I had no space to store a large new pan. And there’s nothing I could make in a Le Creuset pan that I couldn’t make in a roasting pan, a stock pot, or my slow cooker. But for some reason, my resistance was down this year. Must have been all those hours in my day job working on H1N1 virus – a treat seemed in order. So when I mentioned to two colleagues that I was thinking of getting one and they both immediately told me that they had one and it was their favorite pan, I was decided.
Being a research nerd, deciding to buy the pan and actually buying it are two different things. First, I had to decide what size would be best. Then I had to research whether Staub is better than Le Creuset. Then there was the choice of color. I finally ended up with a lovely cobalt blue 5 1/2 quart dutch oven and I love it.
I use it for several types of dishes. I roast chicken pieces with vegetables or dried fruit in it — the convenience being that I can brown the chicken on the stove and roast in the oven all in the same pot. I have to admit that sometimes the pan gets a little too crowded, but it comes out well. I love making soups or stews in it. But perhaps my favorite is making baked pasta dishes in it, because I turn it into a one pot meal. I boil water for the pasta in the Le Creuset pan and when the pasta’s draining, cook the sauce in the Le Creuset pan, mix it up, put some cheese or bread crumbs on top, and stick it in the oven. Voila, one pot meal! Not counting the colander for draining the pasta.
I also love cleaning the Le Creuset pan. After roasting chicken, sometimes the sides will get completely black and I’m sure that the pan has been ruined. “Honey, this pan’s yours,” is what my husband, the customary dishwasher says to me. After soaking for a bit, I can always get all the baked in gunk off no matter how horrible it looked. The pan still looks new, and I’ve used it lots of times.
No, I didn’t need a Le Creuset pan. But it conducts heat beautifully, it cleans well, and it’s so attractive that I love cooking with it. And I do spend lots of time cooking.