I went to church last night. And by church, I mean I went to the grand opening of the first Le Creuset Outlet Store in central Indiana. Home cooks believe in the power of the Dutch oven, and now you can get it nearby at a deep discount. Can I get an “Amen”?
Le Creuset (French for “the crucible”) has been producing enameled cast-iron cookware since 1925 in the small town of Fresnoy-le-Grand in northern France. It combines the even heating of cast iron with the nearly effortless cleanup of enamel, and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. The product is high-performing, but comes with a hefty price tag, which is why home cooks often talk about their favorite Le Creuset piece like they might talk about their firstborn.
That’s also why the outlet, located in the Rivers Edge shopping area that’s also home to Nordstrom Rack, is such a big deal. Le Creuset’s top seller is a 5-quart Dutch oven in cerise (red), with a regular retail price of $330. At the Le Creuset outlet, you can get that same piece for $207. If you’re willing to pick it up in yellow or pink, you’ll pay just $148. It’s still not cheap, but that’s a significant savings if you’re in the market.
Assuming you don’t have a money tree in your backyard, how should you prioritize your spending at the outlet? I’ve been an avid home cook for a long time, and have acquired several Le Creuset pieces over the years. If I were starting from scratch, these are the items I would want for my kitchen. They’re versatile, and pretty enough to keep on the stove or countertop even when you’re not cooking. One more bit of advice: Don’t get hung up on colors. Mixing and matching will give you more flexibility on budget, because different colors will go on sale as you build a collection. It’s good for your wallet (and your aesthetic) to be open.
- Dutch Oven
There’s a reason this is the top seller; you can do practically anything with a Dutch oven. Soups, braises, roast chicken, bread. Truthfully, it would be easier to make a list of things you can’t make in it. And while the 5-quart is the top seller, I have the 7-quart, and use it all the time. If you have a family or just like to cook for others, the bigger one is a worthwhile investment.
This is a black-enameled version of a cast-iron skillet. That enameled surface means the cleanup is easy-peasy. If I’m making scrambled eggs or pancakes, I’m using this pan.
- Multi-Function 2-Piece Set
This set comes with a saucepan and lid that does double-duty as a small skillet (great for omelets).
- Grill Pan
If you’re not crazy about grilling outside in Midwestern winters, sear your chicken breasts or steaks stovetop in this pan, then put it directly into the oven to finish cooking.
This is similar to a Dutch oven, but with a little more surface area, and shallower. In addition to braising meat, it’s the perfect pan for scalloped potatoes, casseroles, or desserts.
Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. 4036 E. 82nd St., 317-436-8674.