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Some families connect over the great outdoors -- RV road trips, deep-sea fishing, long hikes with elevation gain. That’s...not my family. We enjoy boutique hotels, have a long history of sea-sickness, and if we’re hiking, it’s a beeline straight to a gourmet grocery store or farmers market. I’d venture to say our family’s love language is more of the culinary persuasion: holiday celebrations centered around the dining table, a house filled with day-long roasting aromas and fresh-baked bread. And the family heirlooms we’ve accumulated reflect this prioritization: Fine China and Silverware sit alongside perhaps our most prized family possession: A (nearly) complete set of the entire Le Creuset catalogue.
And so you can imagine my family’s delight (and jealousy) when the kind folks at Le Creuset reached out to TQE to share their latest colorways for the season. I gladly took them for a test-drive for one of my favorite recipes -- Bon Appetit’s Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs. Before we dive into that deliciousness, I did a bit more research on what’s made the near 100-year cookware brand such a resounding success. To be synonymous with quality craftsmanship over that time period is no easy feat, and I was determined to figure out Le Creuset’s secret sauce.
The Story Of A True Original
The company’s Belgian founders, Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq, founded Le Creuset in 1925, which feels like a long time ago, but let’s put that in perspective among other watershed moments: The New Yorker magazine published its first issue, Sears Robuck opened its first Department Store, and Mussolini came to power all in the same year. Desaegher and Aubecq observed a rather drab cookware landscape at the time, everything focused on utilitarian greys and blacks.
And from that darkness sprung opportunity: the two artisans perfected a glazing process that coated cast iron in a layer of premium colorful enamel. Their first color was dubbed ‘Volcanique’ -- which took its cue from the glowing orange hue of the cast iron hot out of the foundry. As the molten cooled, the color tonality got richer and the signature Le Creuset orange ombre (now called “Flame”) was born. This expressive orange stood in deep contrast to the dull cookware competition and, coupled with its exceptional cookware performance, the brand took off. Home chefs living in postwar France were eager to push the boundaries of cooking from simple staples to delicacies like boeuf bourguignon.
The Cadillac Of Enameled Cast Iron
Still handcrafted in France at the original Fresnoy-le-Grand foundry, Le Creuset enameled cast iron has established itself as the gold standard for renowned chefs and home cooks alike. But why? The cast iron provides some of the most even heat and moisture distribution on the market, yielding food that has elevated textures and flavors. Couple this with improvements in heat retention, optimal lid closure angles, and newer ergonomic friendly handles: the product has certainly improved with age.
Their signature cast iron Braiser is perfectly designed for steady even heat transfer, particularly key for transforming tough cuts of meat and vegetables into well rounded braised meals. The wide base allows ingredients to form a uniform sear without crowding the pan and once liquid is added, the domed lid circulates steam to lock in moisture and flavor. You can also utilize the braiser for shallow frying, steaming, stews, casseroles and serving tableside.
A Statement Piece For Generations
Quality and craftsmanship of a hundred year old brand, coupled with high praise from world renowned chefs, comes at a premium price point. The braiser starts at $200 for the 3.5 quart size, so this is certainly an investment piece for your kitchen. But it’s an investment that pays you back: I’ve found that I utilize my Le Creuset assortment all the time, providing great value for the price over my lifetime of ownership.
There’s a reason people pass down their Le Creuset collections from generation to generation -- the quality holds up over time and they become a beloved part of the family culinary tradition.
It doesn't hurt that the easy-to-clean and durable enamel resists dulling, staining, chipping and cracking even with heavy use.There’s a reason people pass down their Le Creuset collections from generation to generation -- the quality holds up over time and they become a beloved part of the family culinary tradition. When is the last time you said that about your entry level saute pan?
And recall that innovative use of color that helped launch the brand? It’s still turning heads to this day. For many Le Creuset customers, myself included, it's rare we’ll store away our Braiser or Dutch oven in the kitchen cabinets. Instead,I proudly display it on our range year-round. The signature colors add a pop to our decor, and a nod of approval from dinner guests who are culinarily inclined.
Test Drive: Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
One of the first dishes I ever made in my hand-me-down Le Creuset from my parents was this exquisite slow braise from Bon Appétit. It’s best to make these a day ahead of time to really lock in the flavor in the fridge overnight, and then reheat and serve for a crowd pleasing comfort food affair.
The Most Versatile Tool In Your Kitchen
Calling Le Creuset cookware the ‘Swissarmy Knife’ of your kitchen feels a bit off-brand for a product of its cache and quality. That said -- practically speaking the versatility of the cookware is pretty impressive. Le Creuset is safe and suitable for any type of cooktop -- gas, induction, and radiant heat sources immediately come to mind. Combining that with its ability to seamlessly transition from range to oven (up to 500 degrees) makes for the perfect workhorse addition to your kitchen stable.
Whether you find yourself using it for baking bread, slow cooking stews, pasta casseroles or other one-pot meals, you can let your creative juices run wild with Le Creuset. I for one plan to work through a collection of comfort food classics to get through winter. Perhaps you’ll consider joining me in adding a Le Creuset statement piece to your kitchen as well!
Five More Reasons To Love Le Creuset
- Le Creuset offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of its products.
- Le Creuset is known for an unmatched range of 24 vibrant, durable colors and finishes across a spectrum of materials.
- Le Creuset is much more than just cast iron cookware: Their full product range includes enameled cast iron, stoneware, stainless steel, nonstick, and silicone.
- Every product is expertly crafted with only the highest quality raw materials and optimized for beauty, durability and superior results.
- The blog has helpful tips and tricks including recipes and how to clean your cookware.