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The trouble with phenolic resin handles


Fat Guy
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I have to say, I don't get why Le Creuset uses phenolic resin handles. I've broken every one I've ever had, and it's not like they actually stay cool in the oven (the most typical place you'll find a Le Creuset dutch oven). I just unpacked a box of kitchen stuff and while everything else was intact this thing managed to break.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Another vote for Staub...their line is very, very good. Besides, I always use a mitt or towel if I am removing the top. The resin top on my couple of Le Creuset items always seem 'loose'. I much prefer a metal knob.

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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Yes, it's easy to get replacements. A friend also tipped me off to the existence of stainless replacement handles. I think if I ever get another piece of Le Creuset cookware I'm going to add a stainless handle right away.

Le Creuset stainless-steel replacement handle

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yes, it's easy to get replacements. A friend also tipped me off to the existence of stainless replacement handles. I think if I ever get another piece of Le Creuset cookware I'm going to add a stainless handle right away.

Le Creuset stainless-steel replacement handle

But the maddening thing is you shouldn't have to replace them! They shouldn't be crap to begin with. What are they rated to, 375F? I think that's right. I use a dutch oven at least 4 times a week at 450F. Le Creuset must know that people hate those knobs. I want to buy their cookware, but the knobs piss me off.

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I refuse to pay their outrageous prices, no matter how pretty the pots are, but they really should send you a free replacement, steel if you want. I'd call them.

You can also get metal drawer handles to use as knob on your lid, might be a lot cheaper than their price? And you can just pick it up at a hardware store, no need to pay for and wait for shipping. This was once discussed somewhere to replace cheap handles on cheaper pots (Target, which is what I have) so you can make the no knead bread w/o melting the handle off. My pot actually has a metal handle, I just took out a plastic washer in between handle and lid, that would have melted.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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The steel knob is standard fit on their black cookware (here in the UK, at least).

I think it must be a style thing.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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That is the exact reason that I stick to my vintage Descoware, Dru, Volrath, Copco and Griswold.

Here's the lid from a Descoware (Belgium) oval pot I purchased in 1968.

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Obviously Le Creuset knows how to make the integral loop handles because here is one on a terrine.

HPIM4004.JPG

I like these because when they are super hot, from being in a high temp wood-fired oven, I can use a hook to lift the lid.

And here's a casserole on ebay with the loop handle.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I just came across this Le Creuset pot and lid on ebay with the loop-type lid handle.

There is also this one.

Occasionally there are lids only sold on ebay. It might be possible to pick up a vintage lid with this type of handle for your modern pot.

It's worth a try.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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You know, not to curse myself (turning around 3 times, spitting and shouting "beetlejuice beetlejuice beetlejuice"), but I've probably used my Le Creuset about 10 times for no-knead bread, and at least another 20 or 30 times for oven braises. No issue with the knob, and the pot and the lid usually get cleaned in the dishwasher as well.

But then, for the bread, which is the only real high-temp application the thing gets, I always wrap the phenolic knob in at least 5 or 6 layers of aluminum foil.

Granted, I've never hit/dropped the knob on the edge, but it doesn't seem close to failing. I'd never put it in the super hot oven unprotected, though, just the same as I wouldn't put any saute pans or sauce pans in that had anything other than metal handles unless they were well-insulated by foil.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

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Knock on wood, I haven't experienced a phenolic knob failure. I use the hell out of my LC--it goes on the grill, bakes no-knead bread, and I use it on the stovetop all the time. That said, if the knob cracks, you can write to them and they'll send another one: 1.877.CREUSET (273.8738) x6

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I use mine mainly for braising and things like cassoulet, which are low to medium heat applications. If I turn up the heat to brown the top of something, of course the cover comes off, so no danger to the knob.

I suspect that when they started using those knobs, they never imagined that people would be baking bread in an oven using an enameled cast iron Dutch oven with the lid on.

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Mine's lasted 10 years, including a few unprotected times in an oven 75° hotter than its rating. I suspect they use phenolic because it stays cool when the pan's on the stove. If mine ever breaks or melts, I'll probably replace it with something hilarious looking from the hardware store. That or spend $10 on the official stainless one.

Notes from the underbelly

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In an earlier post I mentioned finding Descoware lids on ebay for LC pots with the same dimensions.

I just noticed this one and the seller has

a smaller one

and two large yellow lids for the bigger Dutch ovens.

So it is possible to find odd lids and you may even be able to find one of the "vintage" LC lids with the loop handle.

This vendor has several pieces of Griswold cast iron for sale at very competitive prices, all are Buy It Now. No waiting for an auction to end.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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timing is everything - I just dropped one of my lids in a parking lot & snapped the handle (along with scraping the enamel a bit :sad:) and I wouldn't have known about the Stainless replacement handle without this thread - thanks!

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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