I’ve been recently obsessed with Le Creuset‘s cookware. I love companies that have a long heritage of making great products and this is one of them. Le Creuset started in 1925 and able to make cast iron versatile by coating it in a porcelain enamel glaze, and more recently, glazing it with a rainbow of colors that would make any modern cook happy (or at least reflect their personality with the color of the pan(s)).
Le Creuset pans are beautifully rustic that I can cook my food and could serve it directly to the table, if I wanted to. The pans are durable and heavy duty that could outlast my time on Earth and pass it on to my future generations – that’s if my would-be children and grandchildren wouldn’t wreck these gorgeous pans.
I started tinkering around with my 5-1/2 Quart Round French Oven ($330) and ended up cooking stewed duck duck with taro (芋頭燉鴨). It’s big enough to fit that whole five pound duckling and I didn’t have to tend to the pot that often since I had to cook it low and slow to get the duck meltingly tender and render a thick voluptuous sauce with the soft starchy taro. (In case you never tried taro, it’s starchy like a potato but have a slightly different flavor profile, more earthier, than your standard Idaho potato.)
The taro was cooked first by frying it in oil for a couple of minutes until it is relatively cooked (as in, you use a knife tip and poke into the taro and remove it, it has some resistance). The taro would be removed, drain the pot from the oil and sear the whole duck. Once that duck is seared all around, I flavored that stew with fermented bean paste, oyster sauce, dried tangerine peel, five spice powder, star anise, garlic, ginger, black pepper, touch of salt, and dark soy sauce. Then let it simmer (on the lowest number on my gas range) with the taro for an hour. Add some chopped scallions and it should result to what you see above.
Another large pan I cooked with was their 6-Quart Deep Saute Pan ($175). Yes, it is huge but it serves my purpose when I am throwing a big dinner party and have to cook from four to ten hungry people. This particular dinner I ended up cooking scallion ginger blue crab (姜蔥蟹).
It’s a relatively quick cooking dish. The issue was cleaning and breaking down the blue crabs, especially if they’re really feisty and put a good fight against me to end up on me and my friends’ dinner plates. I realized that this pan was huge just because I purchased fourteen blue crabs from my local fish market and it still had extra wiggle room to fit in more! The pan retained heat very well that I don’t have to keep turning my gas stove knob from high (to heat the pan) to low (when I add any food item to prevent scorching/burn) and back to high (the immediate temperature drop when food is added) whenever I add anything into my pan.
For some reason, I was pretty excited about the possibilities with the trio of mini cocottes ($60). I baked eggs with herb goat cheese, passion fruit soufflés, Gruyere cheese popovers with these little pots. Because they are enameled cast iron pots, they can evenly distribute heat well and result in many different ways of baking savory courses and sweet – beyond the standard macaroni and cheese or chicken pot pie.
Overall, Le Creuset makes beautiful, durable, high quality pans that worth your money. It’s versatile that it can be directly transferred from the stovetop and thrown into the oven for roasting. And it looks great on the table that it may be used as dinnerware.
Instead of inundating you with five recipes, I’ll give you one for the mini cocottes. The recipes can be used on the standard muffin pan or popover tins (the popovers) or ramekins (soufflés). Please do note though, your serving size with these mini cocottes are larger than your average serving (e.g. the popover is 2-3 times bigger than a standard popover and the leftover batter goes to my greased, standard sized muffin pan).
Passion fruit soufflé
Recipe from Daniel’s Dish: Entertaining at Home with a Four Star Chef by Daniel Boulud
Makes 4 servings
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup passion fruit purée
3/4 cup egg whites (about 4 large), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
4 6-ounce ramekins or 3 mini cocottes
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter the inside and rims of the ramekins or mini cocottes. Dust the insides and rims with sugar, making certain that they are thoroughly coated. Tap out the excess sugar and put the dishes on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the egg yolks and passion fruit purée in a large bowl until well blended; set aside.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low speed just until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites form glossy medium-stiff peaks. Using a large rubber spatula and a light touch, fold the meringue into the yolk mixture in three additions until well incorporated but not overmixed.
Fit a pastry bag with a large plain round tip and fill with the soufflé mixture. Pipe (or if you prefer spoon) the mixture into the dishes up to their rims. Run your thumb along the outside edge of the dishes to remove any excess butter and sugar. Bake the soufflés for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. If you touch the tops of the soufflés, they should be firm with centers that are still a bit jiggly.
When the soufflés are done, carefully pull the baking sheet from the oven. Dust the tops of the soufflés with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately with the pear-passion sauce.
To see more photos of what I cooked and baked with my Le Creuset pans, please through my slideshow below: