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Au Gratin is a french cooking technique that browns food in either a oven/broiler. The goal is to develop a crispy brown layer on the top surface. This technique is most often done on low shallow pans called gratin pan. Le Creuset has their own version of this pan. The low sides and oval shape makes it a perfect vessel for baking/broiling. It comes in a variety of color and sizes. There are two version of these gratin pan, stoneware and cast iron. Both materials have their own quirks and features. However, that doesnt necessarily makes one better than the other.
Le Creuset Au Gratin Dish Review Quick Summary
|Le Creuset Au Gratin Dish
|Wide Range of Color
|Two Little Handle
|A great gratin dish. The stoneware fit and finish better than the cast iron version. But functionally, it is less versatile. Since you cant really buy the cast iron version anymore its pointless. Regardless, these are great as serving dishes. Guest will oohh and ahh at its cute design.
|Le Creuset Stone Ware Gratin
What to make with Le Creuset Au Gratin Dish?
You can bake almost anything in an Au Gratin Pan. However, they are more suited for dishes that requires broiling. Scalloped Potatoes or Eggs Au Gratin are popular choices. However, sweets like berry cobbler or individual desert can also be baked.
Cast Iron models can be used on the stove to sear food like Fish. Do not do that with the ceramic models.
Le Creuset Stoneware
Most if not all of Le Creuset stoneware is made outside of France. While I cant comment on the vintage models, modern iteration seems to be made in either Thailand or China. These stoneware models are only suitable for food that requires baking. Things like casserole, lasagna, pies, or just serving soup are suitable task.
You should not use direct fire on stoneware unless specified. Emile Henry Flame Ceramic is one exception to this. But even then, I question the general durability.
Le Creuset Cast Iron Gratin Pan are still made in France. They’re more durable and they wont crack like ceramic. It also carries a lifetime warranty unlike the 5-10 year period of the stoneware model.
Le Creuset Au Gratin Dish Design
Instead of a loop handle Le Creuset uses a ear like shape with ridges. These handle are slippery and get really hot. Honestly, they are very poorly designed. A loop handle would have been better.
Le Creuset Stoneware vs Cast Iron Handle Differences
For the most part they are very similar. The stoneware has a more gentle transition to the body. While the cast iron version is more abrupt.
The ridges on the stoneware version are more widespread and they have two half ridges. On the Cast Iron model, the ridges is more closely packed and uniform, it looks like something that is packed within in a box.
Color difference between Le Creuset Stoneware and Cast Iron
As with all Le Creuset Cookware, these gratin dishes come in a variety of beautiful colors. Although not as extensive as their mainline cookware, there is enough to satisfy most people.
Both of my cast iron and stoneware Le Creuset au gratin dish is made in the quince color. However, there is some differences when you look at them side by side. The interior of the stoneware version has a more rich and warm color. This gives the dish a more inviting home feel. The Cast Iron version has a more cold sandy look to it.
At the exterior, the stoneware yellow has a gentle gradient of dark yellow to light. The cast iron version has no gradient with just the same yellow throughout.
The shape is a very simple low profile oval shape. This forces you to spread the food out thin. By doing so, you will maximize the amount of surface area for browning. Having a thin dish will also reduce the amount of cooking time.
Interesting enough, the Stoneware version is bigger both in length and width.
Le Creuset Au Gratin Stove Top Compatibility
I would say this is where the cast iron shines. Unfortunately the stoneware is not stove top compatible. If you want to warm up a dish or perform initial cooking on the stove top, you would be out of luck. The stoneware gratin pan can only be used in the oven. Whereas the cast iron version can be used both on the stove top and oven.
Le Creuset Stoneware Durability
Yea, no way stoneware is more durable than metal. With the stoneware I am always careful and scared that I will accidentally drop/break it. A simple smack in the wrong place will mean that it will break. I have more freedom and confidence in the cast iron model.
The reviews on amazon are claiming that there are some issues with cracking. Most of the time this is due to thermal shock. For example, placing a hot dish on a cold surface or vice versa. You see this happen a lot with glassware dish.
Le Creuset Stoneware vs Cast Iron Fit and Finish
Normally I would say the fit and finish on most Le Creuset products are close to excellent. However, comparing the stoneware and cast iron finish side by side, you will see how bad the cast iron model really is. The overall paint job is better in the stoneware. There is no orange peel and the paint is smooth.
The paint on the cast iron model is not even or uniform. The one on the stoneware model is perfect.
Finally, the subtle gradient in yellow richness is beautifully done on the stoneware but is lacking in the cast iron version.
Note:These measurement are done by me with the tools that I have on hand. The manufacturers have their own measurement guidelines and that should be assumed to be accurate. What I find on this review can vary widely due to several factors, such as ambient temperature, location, water, tool calibration, stove btu, etc..and should only be considered as my opinion.
Le Creuset Au Gratin Dish Stoneware
Weight: 687 g
Rim Width:Around 9.75 inch
Rim Length: 6 inch
Height: Around 1.75 inch
Made in Thailand
Le Creuset Au Gratin Dish Cast Iron
Weight: 1063 g
Rim Width:Around 9.3 inch
Rim Length: 5.95 inch
Height: Around 1.55 inch
Made in France
Unfortunately, I do not have a good way to test the performance. I will say that the due to the shear mass of the cast iron version, it will retain heat better. Because of that alone, I will say it performs better. Keeping a food hot when serving is one of the important thing to do when entertaining. There is a reason why restaurant always heat their plate prior to serving.
Le Creuset Au Gratin Dish Conclusion
Well, this sure is surprising, the Le Creuset Stoneware Au Gratin pan is made to a higher standard than the cast iron version. This goes to show you that the country of manufacturer should not be what sways your purchase. Third world country can make products that is superior to first world country. Although this can be just due to the fact that cast iron is more difficult to manufacturer. It is hard to say as I am not the one making it.
But what you buy should depend on your wants and needs. I personally will still stick with the cast iron version even if it is not as well made. The main reason is for the durability. If you prefer the stoneware version, it is really affordable compared to the cast iron version. Its more well built fit and finish wise and its bigger.
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