Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Giving LeCreuset a Run for the Money: Crofton Enameled Cast Iron pans

For all of the cooking that we do, I'm embarrassed to admit that I do not have a decent set of pans. Good knives, cutting boards, baking stones, a plethora of gadgets and lots of good ingredients, but my pans are an abomination to cooks everywhere.

Tsk. I'm working on that. As we work on building our new kitchen, we dream about the pans we'll buy, possibly one-by-one until we have a respectable set. Some good anodized Calphalon pans, perhaps.

I drool over LeCreuset enameled cast iron pans. I recently nearly flipped when I read that I'd missed out on a vintage set at the Habitat for Humanity store on University Avenue. Still, I imagine that even if I had gotten to them first, I'd have have been unable to afford even the used set.

It's good though, because look what the cast iron pan fairy left me this weekend:

My sister actually left that enameled cast iron grill pan in my car this weekend. She knows my pans suck, and decided to get my collection started. She told me where she bought that pan, and that there were others to add to my collection, if I was interested.

You won't believe this:


Yes, our local discount grocery has a series of Crofton brand, enameled cast iron pans, and they're on sale this week. When she told me this, I went immediately to Aldi, and bought the 5-quart dutch oven to match the skillet.

I've done a bit of research on the Crofton pans, and the reports are positive. No warping, no chipping of enamel; everyone seems pretty darn pleased with their Crofton cookware.

LeCreuset 5-quart Dutch oven: $200.75

Crofton 5-quart Dutch oven: $29.99

My initial review, after cooking up one batch of vegetable soup and 1 good winter steak (summer steaks are on the grill, you know): Love them. They heated evenly, and cleaned up like a dream. Be forewarned that they're heavy and require some care and strength to manipulate. I imagine myself giving them away when I'm a little old lady, but I can get a lot of good cooking in between now and then.

Aldi's only has the set in red. I love the red myself, but if you're collecting another color, you're out of luck.

Next blog: My latest food lesson: How to cook a great steak in a cast iron pan.