I know it has its fans who have already posted on the topic, but wanted to share my experience with a new Le Creuset, and let anyone who has doubted its advantages that this is one great Dutch oven...
A little background. I've always been a fan of the slow cooked...whether is is short ribs, lamb shanks, osso buco, etc. For years, I've used a perfectly adequate, fairly heavy 8 quart Calphalon pot, and been happy with it, but have heard here and in other places about the revelation that is enameled cast iron, so for Xmas, asked my wife for yet another kitchen toy (along with a Thermapen, but I'll save that for another post.) I told her not to make a big deal about it, just a simple Tarmontia (sp?) or a Lodge for $40-50 bucks, not a $200+ top-of-the-line deal.
So my wife goes a-looking, and notices that every inexpensive enameled cast iron pot is <*gasp*> made in China (isn't everything?), and she, being a bit neurotic, is convinced that instead of iron, it must be made of lead, since clearly they are trying to kill us all, so she pops for the 9-quart Le Creuset (Ouch, $264 at cutleryandmore.com, but at least shipping was free! Given the weight of this thing, I could see where that's a big plus...its probably going to have to come on a flat-bed semi, strapped down, all by it self.)
Now already I've got a bit of a bad taste in my mouth due to the cost, not to mention my Italian heritage...many Italians think the French are kinda like Italians, but in a genetically determined and permanent bad mood, so here I am with a horribly expensive frenchie pot!?!?
So I now own it (no way I'm goona be able to afford the truck it's gonna take to send it back, anyway) so I might as well try this thing out. Holy c**p, it it amazing! First, it browns like nothing I've ever seen before, and at lower temps on the stove. Get this baby warmed up, and look out! And, it seems like less splatter too, maybe because it's pumping heat into the meat so efficiently...I don't know.
All the other stuff goes in, and the whole shebang goes into the oven. The lamb shank recipe calls for 400 degrees for 4 hours!?!? . I'm thinking this is way too hot, and way to long, and I'm gonna have either a hot lamb slurppie, or meat (or rather, what is left of it) with the texture of a Wheatabix. (As an aside, the nob on the lid is only rated to 375, but can be unscrewed and replaced, so I'm going for it, but with a wad of aluminum foil wrapped over it for psychological security)
The result? Juicy, succulent...perfect.
But the pot is all kinds of splattered, inside above the liquid line , and down the outsides where it bubbled over and ran down...so much for the looks of this pot that cost as much as the monthly payment on my first car.
And the sucker wipes clean, no problem!
So, bottom line, I love this pot. And I'm glad my wife is neurotic. If you are considering whether it's worth the price, I'd say yes. And I was a serious doubter.