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Le Creuset v. Staub


jturn00
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I am looking for a small Cast iron Dutch oven to cook curries, rice and risottos to replace an old farberware pot. I am looking for a 2 quart and found that Le Creuset and staub make a 2qt. My question is does the inside matter that much? Would they both work well for what I am doing? (The staub pot is less than the Le Creuset by $20).

I seem to like the weight of the staub pot more than the Le Creuset but the light inside of the le creuset seems more practical in cooking and in preventing food from sticking.

Thanks,

Jeff

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The matte black enamel (in the Staub) does, I think, do a better job browning. It's also more durable and thus less likely to chip (although I've only chipped one LC pot in 20 years).

On the other hand, I find the hard enamel of the LC much easier to clean. I'd come down on the side of LC for that reason, but either one will be good for your uses.

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If you were cooking a stew or braised dish that required you to brown the meat prior, a cast iron interior is much more effective at browning than an enamel lined one. This is not to say you cannot use the Le Creuset to make these things, I have, it just takes longer to get your meats nicely browned, which is essential for the eventual flavor of the dish. The one draw back is that it is more difficult to see if the fond at the bottom of cast iron pot is starting to burn.

For rice, risottos, soups, white stews, anything that calls for long, slow cooking, Le Creuset is perfect.

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My difficultiy is due to the multiuse aspects. I like the idea of staub's browing qualities but the fact that LC might be easier to clean is a big advantage. Does food stick more in the staub? If I use it for rice, would it stick more in staub or LC?

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Thanks Artichoke,

I saw your reply after your post.... If only I had unlimited funds and space .....

I can see that the light enamel would be good for making caramel or frying and seeing the color of the food better.

I am leaning towards the LC.

Jeff

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IMO Staub is in most ways the superior pot. It's heavier. Certain aspects of the construction are simply better (the Bakelite handles on Le Creuset are always breaking and falling off, for example). I like the lid design. And the interior is better for browning.

Some people have said that they prefer the LC because of the light interior. I'm not sure I understand why. Plenty of people prefer to cook on nonstick surfaces, and yet we never hear complaints that Teflon is hard to use because the dark surface makes it difficult to tell when the food is browned enough. I use a sophisticated technique when cooking called "paying attention" to make sure I don't burn things.

Jeff, as to some of the other things you bring up: Heavy enameled cast iron is just about the worst material/design you could use to make caramel. Regardless of whether it's Le Creuset or Staub, if you make a really dark caramel and need to cool the pan down fast before the sugar begins to burn, or if you need to reduce the heat before the caramel boils over, you're going to be screwed if you're using a heavy iron pan. The high thermal capacity and low thermal conductivity mean that it won't be very responsive.

I haven't noticed that Staub is any more difficult to clean than LC with my usual "soak overnight" technique. But, of course, experiences differ.

For whatever it's worth, I think you will probably find a lot of recommendations to take LC over Staub from people who have actually never used anything but LC. Other than Janet and myself, I don't know too many people in these boards who have used both with any regularity.

--

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I have had LC for a number of years and I recently bought two pieces of the new Mario Batali line. I bought both the roasting/lasagna pan and the dutch oven. I've used them both an number of times and I'm really happy with them and they clean up beautifully. I do a lot of high heat roasting and what I liked about the Batali is that it is safe to 500°F where LC is oven safe to 450°F. Also here in Canada the price of Batali was less than half that of the Le Creuset.

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Ann

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The one draw back is that it is more difficult to see if the fond at the bottom of cast iron pot is starting to burn.
i dont have a staub (yet! they are beautiful... and im a sucker for beauty) but this alone is a big drawback for me.

i am very paranoid about bitter charred bits getting into my food. as im cooking onions or ribs or whatever, browning may not yet be there yet, but a lot of the fond might already be bordering on blackening, begging for some broth or water to keep from burning.... im glad the interior of the lc are white; helps a lot in keeping track of where you are. just my 2 cents.

again, i wouldnt let that necessarily stop you from getting a staub. esp if you already have a lc... :wink:

"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo
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Jturn00, I think your best bet would be the slightly larger 2 3/4 Le Creuset soup pot. The bottom is rounded and it's wider and shallower than the oven. I think it's much better for curries, rice, and risotto as the rounded bottom makes it much easier to stir. It's shaped like a saucier but with two loop handles. I think it's a much more verstaile pot, as the width will let you also use it as a small dutch oven. You can even do a very small roast or chicken in it, or a small braise. It's $69.99. It also comes in Satin Black if you decide you do want the black matte enamel interior.

I am looking for a small Cast iron Dutch oven to cook curries, rice and risottos to replace an old farberware pot.  I am looking for a 2 quart and found that Le Creuset and staub make a 2qt.  My question is does the inside matter that much?  Would they both work well for what I am doing? (The staub pot is less than the Le Creuset by $20). 

I seem to like the weight of the staub pot more than the Le Creuset but the light inside of the le creuset seems more practical in cooking and in preventing food from sticking.

Thanks,

Jeff

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I have a piece of Staub Basix that it's sold on QVC and I can't say enough about it. It's enameled, dirt cheap, easy to clean, does as good a job as any LC. And, I got the 4 qt with the grill top - love that for stews the ridges catch the moisture or by itself makes a pretty good small stovetop grill.

The human mouth is called a pie hole. The human being is called a couch potato... They drive the food, they wear the food... That keeps the food hot, that keeps the food cold. That is the altar where they worship the food, that's what they eat when they've eaten too much food, that gets rid of the guilt triggered by eating more food. Food, food, food... Over the Hedge
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FWIW, I'm also not sure it makes sense to buy something like enameled cast iron on the basis of using it as as "all 'rounder." Frankly, at most kitchen tasks, other less expensive and easier to use and maintain material/designs are just as good if not better. To name a few that have been mentioned upthread, I wouldn't call heavy enameled cast iron the ideal material/design for things like soups, rice, curry, risotto, etc. Heavy enameled cast iron is best for braising. Browning meat and vegetables and then simmering them low/slow for a long time in a limited amount of liquid. It is also very good at certain other low/slow applications like cooking beans, things like chili con carne and stews.

So, if you're going to buy an expensive specialty braising pan, first be sure that you're really going to do enough braising that it's a worthwhile purchase, then choose a pan and brand on the basis of what is best for braising.

--

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I own neither (though I've cooked in others' LC), but it's the Staub that I've been yearning for. Just as the right cooking knife feels at home in one's hand, those Staub pots just do it for me.

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i just wanted to agree with sam: this is an interesting discussion of cast-iron cookware, but i'd never use cast-iron cookware to make risotto. i really prefer something that reacts more quickly to heat, so you can adjust the cooking as you're going along. but, of course, cast-iron is unbeatable for braising.

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In July Mario Batali will be adding a specialized risotto pot to his cast iron line. I think Mario might know just a little about making risotto ;-).

i just wanted to agree with sam: this is an interesting discussion of cast-iron cookware, but i'd never use cast-iron cookware to make risotto. i really prefer something that reacts more quickly to heat, so you can adjust the cooking as you're going along. but, of course, cast-iron is unbeatable for braising.

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i just wanted to agree with sam: this is an interesting discussion of cast-iron cookware, but i'd never use cast-iron cookware to make risotto. i really prefer something that reacts more quickly to heat, so you can adjust the cooking as you're going along. but, of course, cast-iron is unbeatable for braising.

I'd agree with this in terms of reacting to heat. I used a Le Crueset tonight to fry chicken and I was not at all happy with the temperature control or lack thereof that I was unable to achieve.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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FWIW, I'm also not sure it makes sense to buy something like enameled cast iron on the basis of using it as as "all 'rounder."  Frankly, at most kitchen tasks, other less expensive and easier to use and maintain material/designs are just as good if not better.  To name a few that have been mentioned upthread, I wouldn't call heavy enameled cast iron the ideal material/design for things like soups, rice, curry, risotto, etc.  Heavy enameled cast iron is best for braising.  Browning meat and vegetables and then simmering them low/slow for a long time in a limited amount of liquid.  It is also very good at certain other low/slow applications like cooking beans, things like chili con carne and stews.

I have used my LC for risotto, and I thought it was okay, until I used a copper bottom saute pan (and then a copper one, which is even better). But soups can work really well in coated cast iron, depending on the soup. Long cooked ones work well -- the ones that are halfway to stew, for example. Same with curries; it depends on the style of curry.

But it's not the best material for everything, by any means. Basically, if you need fast temperature control, cast iron is the wrong choice. If you need slow even heat and good heat retention, it's the right choice.

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i just wanted to agree with sam: this is an interesting discussion of cast-iron cookware, but i'd never use cast-iron cookware to make risotto. i really prefer something that reacts more quickly to heat, so you can adjust the cooking as you're going along. but, of course, cast-iron is unbeatable for braising.

I'd agree with this in terms of reacting to heat. I used a Le Crueset tonight to fry chicken and I was not at all happy with the temperature control or lack thereof that I was unable to achieve.

This is a bit of a tangent, I guess, but my once my mom starting frying her chicken in an electric skillet (back in the 70's) she would never consider going back to cast iron. It's definitely for the same reasons you mention, and her technique utilizes a few temperature changes.

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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Interesting that you would say this as I was saying to snowangel earlier that my next fried chicken experiment would use my electric skillet! But back to LC vs Staub. Either of them will be great for braising, but as Sam suggests, they are not all around general usage pots.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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A couple of posts upthread indicate confusion regarding one point, so just to make it totally explicit: both Staub and Le Creuset pots have enameled interiors. Le Creuset "French ovens" and Staub "cocottes" -- also known as Dutch ovens (the companies, not being Dutch, refuse to use the term people would be most likely to understand) -- are both examples of enameled cast-iron cookware.

Many people look at a Staub pot and assume the interior is "naked" cast iron, because it is the color of cast iron. That's not cast iron you're seeing, though. It's enamel. As referenced in several other posts upthread, it's black matte enamel. Were it plain cast iron, you'd be paying a lot for something you could get from Lodge for almost nothing. So the difference between Le Creuset and Staub is not that one has an enameled interior and the other doesn't. Rather, it's that the interior enamel on most Le Creuset pots (except for the ones lined in black matte enamel) is a light cream color and very smooth, while the interior enamel on Staub is black and has some texture to it. That to me is not a particularly relevant difference. You can brown just fine in either, and neither is easy to clean.

I'll probably never buy a Le Creuset pot again, however, because the handles are so bad. It's beyond my comprehension why such a poor design remains so popular and successful -- then again poorly designed cookware has dominated the consumer cookware marked forever. When braising in the oven it's not like you're going to grab the handle with your bare hand anyway, so why bother to use a phenolic resin that breaks so easily? You shouldn't have to replace the handle on a pot every few years. Staub pots have metal handles, as they should.

Although the price differential is minor, in the restaurant world Staub is definitely considered the higher end product. All the places at the Ducasse level that I know of use Staub not Le Creuset. Even though Ducasse signed his Benoit crew on to do the Le Creuset cookbook, if you go to his fine-dining restaurants you'll see all Staub.

If you want a seriously versatile Dutch oven that works as well for risotto as it does for braising, you'll skip enameled cast iron completely and go for something like the anodized aluminum Dutch oven I use for all my braising. The one I use has the advantage of a glass lid, so throughout the cooking process you can see exactly how your braising liquid is bubbling. Have a look at the Truth About Braising workshop in the eGCI for more information.

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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Thanks for all the info! I decided to go with a small staub to get started. It was a small investment at around $50 so I will be able to try out different stews, curries and soups!

Jeff

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Many people look at a Staub pot and assume the interior is "naked" cast iron, because it is the color of cast iron. That's not cast iron you're seeing, though. It's enamel. As referenced in several other posts upthread, it's black matte enamel. Were it plain cast iron, you'd be paying a lot for something you could get from Lodge for almost nothing. So the difference between Le Creuset and Staub is not that one has an enameled interior and the other doesn't. Rather, it's that the interior enamel on most Le Creuset pots (except for the ones lined in black matte enamel) is a light cream color and very smooth, while the interior enamel on Staub is black and has some texture to it. That to me is not a particularly relevant difference. You can brown just fine in either, and neither is easy to clean.

According to the booklet that came with my giant Staub pan, you can kind of season the matte stuff like cast iron, and eventually it'll get easier to clean. It hasn't worked for me.... I don't think my Staub pan is really any harder to clean than my Le Creuset anyway, though.

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A couple of people have mentioned some of the secondary brands of enameled cast iron cookware. I haven't had any direct experience with these. However, I've inspected some of them pretty thoroughly at places like Marshall's. Were I to buy a piece of enameled cast iron cookware, I'd buy one of the knockoffs that's trying to be like Staub. The price of Le Creuset and Staub cookware is scandalous -- you're paying for the brand, not for anything real. Cast iron and enamel are two of the cheapest substances on earth, and the fabrication expenses -- as evidenced by the knockoffs -- can't be all that great. This isn't like mating copper to stainless steel. Chances are you'll get a lifetime of use out of a made-in-China knockoff, and if you don't you can just by a new one in twenty years.

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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i think the staub interior does a better browning job than enamel.

let me revise that--i think the matte, porous enamel staub interior does a better browning job than that smooth, apparently nonporous enamel.

from the staub website:

Our black matte enamel is highly indestructible and provides better cooking results; over time your Staub pot will slowly season itself as oils used when cooking will penetrate the pores of the black matte enamel. The black matte enamel will also brown, braise and reduce better!

all i know is that if i want to sear, then braise, i use the staub. the smooth surface of the le crueset just doesn't perform that funtion as well.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

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