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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Pot Spot

A question to be answered.....

No....not what you're thinking. Although I did just hear about a friend's partner who opened a garden supplies store called The Pot Shop. He's being pestered for business cards by teenage boys...
But this is a question referring to my Le Creuset pan, above. What you see is the frying pan, which also acts as a lid, when it's flipped over, for a deeper pot. I love this mini Le Creuset set, which I acquired for the enormous cost of.....a bottle of red wine!
My boss at the time was having a mad clearout of her house after her divorce, and this was one of her wedding presents. She wasn't very interested in cooking, so brought it into work and asked for any takers. I was onto that thing like an Olympic wrestler. I mean, seriously, who could believe that luck! A Le Creuset set, the type I've wanted for years, just dropping into my lap (hmmm....ouch)! I couldn't just take it away for nothing so offered some money. She asked for a bottle of red wine. Everyone was happy.
But this has to do with those grotty black bits in the pan which appear every time I try to cook something in it - particularly if I use it to cook a piece of meat. Those baked-on black things take a huuuuge amount of time and effort to remove, with scrubbing brush, scrubby sponge things, even in desperation soft steel wool (very lightly. That stuff is useless. How often have you had it crumble to pieces in your hands?). Until the next time, when they just return. I'm at the point now where I'm choosing not to use it for anything but a lid for the pot.
So my question is: am I being disturbingly suburban about the need for gleaming pans, or is this black patina something I actually want to encourage? Is that buildup the type of thing Le Creuset pans are supposed to generate, and makes them so good? If it isn't, and it really is just black grot, can anybody suggest a better way of cleaning it that doesn't involve 20 minutes swearing at it under a hot tap?

Speaking of pans, this is a cast-iron griddle pan I bought last week at a kitchenwares store in Sydney Road, Brunswick. It weighs a bloody ton; you could kill somebody by whacking them with this. I shudder to think of the day I drop it on my foot (because I just know it will happen...). And you know the best bit about it.....it cost all of......$6.60!!! Can you believe it?? I thought my eyes had finally given out when I saw the price tag. Surely there was a zero missing. But nope, $6.60. Incredible. I can see the chargrilled lines on meats and vegetables in my future.


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    By Blogger Lex Culinaria, at 5/26/2005 01:53:00 pm  

  • Don't worry about being a clean pot nazi. I'm totally the same way. I like my cooking things to be pristine. I've even been known to throw items out and buy new ones for no reasson other than that they look old or worn, even if they are still useful. Of course, I proboably wouldn't throw out the LeCrueset pan. I'd just obsessively clean it.

    I once used a power drill with a steel scrubbing attachment to clean a whole set of pots.

    Did I just admit that in public?

    By Blogger Lex Culinaria, at 5/26/2005 01:57:00 pm  

  • I was always told not to use steel wool on an enameled pot like a Le Creuset, so I always use a scrubby sponge thing instead.

    But then again, the bits always come right off my pan if I deglaze it while it's still hot. If anything's left, I put some water in it along with a static cling dryer sheet thing (seriously!) and it comes right off in the morning.

    By Blogger Brian W, at 5/26/2005 02:24:00 pm  

  • Lyn - I'm in shock. And I'm laughing. I'm sure you can imagine the image I have of a person with high-strength power tools and a welder's mask attacking their saucepan.

    Hi Brian - I'm interested in your static cling dryer sheet thing. What exactly do you mean? It sounds like something we possibly don't have here (unless I'm being very dense...)

    By Blogger Niki, at 5/26/2005 02:50:00 pm  

  • I'm a clean-pot nazi. I would use something like an oven-cleaning spray to try to get rid of the black spots.

    As for cast-iron, welcome to the clan! Wait till it turns black.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/26/2005 02:57:00 pm  

  • Hmm Le creuset have some good cleaning products for their pans... but when you use it how high do you turn the element on? You are only supposed to turn the element on to 50% and then let the pan heat up then add the oil then cook.... it seems to stop stuff sticking in my le creuset anyway..

    I am so jealous of your griddle pan.. my v.lovely but sometime naught kitten kiri broke my le creuset one and I miss it sooooooo much! The get better as they season too :) Steak, chicken, eggplant .....

    By Blogger eat stuff, at 5/26/2005 03:25:00 pm  

  • Gopi - it has started turning black! I was so surprised at how quickly it did it.

    Clare - Thank you for that information. I didn't know that, and think it's going to be very useful. Yes, I probably have been having the flame underneath too high, so I'll try it lower from now. Those pans retain heat so well, that lower heat should still work.

    By Blogger Niki, at 5/26/2005 08:12:00 pm  

  • I hope it helps,
    I was just relaying the info that come on the instruction booklet :)
    I think it cause the retain heat so well :)

    It also says to never soak ur le creuset incase it has a chip because it will rust away on the inside, I could not think of anything worse!

    By Blogger eat stuff, at 5/26/2005 10:25:00 pm  

  • All this advice! As another clean-pot fanatic, I appreciate all the tips. I scored a lovely pair of Le Crueset pots at a flea market, and have been trying in vain to get them clean ... will try the dry sheet method and repot back!

    By Blogger tara, at 5/26/2005 11:58:00 pm  

  • Good tips all. I've also thrown out pots when I burnt rice on them (put the rice on, go do something outside and completely forget you have rice cooking on the stove), and did not feel like spending hours cleaning the blasted thing. On the other hand, none of my pans are All-Clad, so no big investment here.

    I would love one LeCreuset pot but they are so bloody expensive and I'm not sure if it is worth the investment.

    By Blogger Ana, at 5/27/2005 01:44:00 am  

  • re: "static cling dryer sheet things": They're sold here under brand names like Bounce--they're little folded sheets about the size of a tissue that have fabric softener embedded in them. You're meant to toss them in the dryer with your clothes rather than using a liquid fabric softener in the wash. Does that ring any bells?

    I picked up the tip to use them in enameled pots from some silly magazine. Normally I think those tips are basically worthless, but this one turned out to be great. Soaking overnight with regular dish soap didn't help, but the dryer sheet worked wonders. It's probably due to some cancer-causing petrochemical, though. :)

    By Blogger Brian W, at 5/27/2005 02:48:00 am  

  • A tricked I learned it so put water and a few drops of liquid dishwashing detergent in the pot/pan, and let it boil for a few minutes.

    It really works! Even burnt-on candied citrus peel came right off.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 5/27/2005 02:49:00 am  

  • Stephanie stole my tip! That is exactly what I was about to recommend.

    I have a Le Creuset set, I believe the same as yours (but blue enamel). The fry pan/lid is about eight inches across...? And its counterpart is a blue outside sauce pan with white enamel nonstick goodness inside. They are both heavy as the devil and I love them.

    Another one my mum suggested to me was to make a paste of baking soda and water, scrub with that, then add more water and heat it on the stove.

    Just don't add vinegar ;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/31/2005 03:34:00 pm  

  • Here in America we have a powdered cleanser called Bar Keepers Friend. It was recommended to me by a chef, and I use it gently on my pots and pans. But if you've taken steel wool to it and it doesn't come off, why worry, mate? Cook away. And what a steal on the cast iron pan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/06/2005 03:40:00 am  

  • If bicarb doesn't work, use Gumption, if you are not familiar with it, it is a non-abrasive paste cleaner in a plastic tub. It is also good for Corningware and other ceramics, doesn't scratch, and isn't noxious. I've used it for at least 40 years.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/26/2007 03:39:00 pm  

  • Definitely Bar Keepers Friend is recommended by the stores. You might also try some tomatoe sauce. Cook it for a few minute. It usually loosens the tough spots and then they are easier to remove.

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