Staub vs. Le Creuset: How I burned stew

kitchendetectiveMarch 3, 2014

I am placing this post in the CF and not the Cookware Forum because the issue has direct consequences for (my, at least) cooking. Some time ago, I expressed frustration that I had burned two stews cooked in Saub pots, when I had never burned anything in Le Creuset pots. Today, I inverted a Staub lid and traced the edge, whereupon I discovered three protuberances. These will allow for steam to escape during the cooking process, no matter how carefully the lid is placed on the pot. Why would a company that touts the ability of its very heavy cookware to braise and stew build into that cookware a guarantee that steam (and therefore cooking liquid) will escape during the slow cook process, especially when the company states that its lids are specially designed to return cooking liquid back to the pot?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You sure have the right screen name! I wouldn't have thought to check that aspect out.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Are they intentional or manufacturing flaws? Are there matching indents on the pot rim? Perhaps the lid is designed to seal in one orientation but vent in another? Just speculating, I own neither (I do own small LeCrueset pieces, but not a Dutch oven).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just did the same thing with my Staub lid off of a dutch oven and I get a perfect circle.

Not sure if it is the same style as your Dutch Oven. I would take a picture and email the company. See what they have to say.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It must be intentional because they are radially symmetrical, very smooth, and all the same size. There is no corresponding indentation on the pot rim--I had the same thought and looked. Now I will look at my other Staub pots and see what I find.

The LC is 38 years old. After 31 years of marriage DH confessed that he's not that enamored with its retro look and he and the kids bought me some Staub, which I think is absolutely beautiful, but my results aren't as good with it.

Mystery deepens. The 2 3/4 qt. round, "Basil" pot does not have the bulges on the lid. The 5 1/2 qt. round, "Sapphire" has the bulges, the 12 1/2 qt., oval, "Sapphire" has the bulges, but they are more squared off than those in the lid of the 5 1/2 qt.

I will look for a Staub contact and write to them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 1:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't find my LC fits well, either. Whenever I buy some I spend a lot of time mixing and matching pots to lids, and even then I only get best, not great. I find I need foil to help if I want a better fit

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Editing because using two computers at once is a very bad idea.

This post was edited by kitchendetective on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 15:55

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is one of the bulges on the oval Staub.

Is any of your LC old?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WOW! Response within an hour. Amazing.

Here is the text:

Thank you for your recent email concerning Zwilling J.A. Henckels / Staub products.
The raised edge allows the lid to be more stable (no rocking) as it sits on its "tripod" edge-bumps,
It helps to protect the enamel and keeps the lid from shifting and clamping down on the base of the pot.
All Staub lids and bases are manufactured together to assure a proper fit.
Thank you
Consumer Affairs
Zwilling J.A. Henckels/Staub USA/ Demeyere
171 Saw Mill River Rd
Hawthorne, NY 10532

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 3:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here I am putting on my kitchen detective forensic hat :-)

What determines water evaporation rate for a cookware? Assuming identical food is being cooked, and there is a cover:

1. The BTU output of the stove fire.
2. The thermal conductivity of the bottom of the cookware.
3. The thermal conductivity of the side wall of the cookware.
4. The thermal conductivity of the cover.
5. The size of the cookware.
6. The temperature of the room when the food is being cooked.
7. The leakage of the cover.
1. There is no way to make sure that you are getting the same BTUs with gas or electric stoves. The controls for both are highly inaccurate. The only way to compare is to use an induction cook top. You can get the same BTUs from the induction cook top using the dial or push button control. For low temperature cooking, a small amount of BTU difference renders the cookware comparison meaningless.

2 & 3. How thick, what kind of cast iron and enamel, and the shape will make a big difference on how many BTUs the cookware can capture from the stove heat.

4. Likewise, the cover determines the rate of BTUs escaping and ability to condense water vapor back to water into food again and again.

5. The larger the size, the more BTU escaping by conduction and radiation to outside.

6. Of course, the room temperature should be the same for the comparison.

7. The leakage - I believe the leakage of the cover has very little effect, almost zero, to the evaporation rate of the food being cooked.

If the total BTUs supplied by the stove are less than the BTUs lost by the cookware, the food will be simmering without ever reaching 212 F boiling. There will be no steam pressure building up. In this case, any small leak by the cover will have no effect because there is no pressure to push water vapor out.

If not, the BTU build up will cause the food to boil, and steam will cause the pressure to build up inside the vessel. How will a little leak affect the rate of evaporation?

A10 inch cast iron cover is about 78 sq. in. and weighs about 3 to 4 lbs. Atmospheric pressure is at 14 lbs/ sq. in. Over a 10 inch cover that comes to 1099 lbs.

A pressure cooker to effectively change the boiling point works at 15 lbs / sq. in. and that comes to 1177 lbs.

So how much pressures/temperature change can happen by a cover weighing only 3 to 4 lb against 1099 lbs? I say not much at all.

It is interesting for some recipes the time and food wasted in forming dough around a cover to prevent steam from escaping.

I believe a well designed cookware cover should allow a small amount of steam to escape. A perfectly fitting cover will cause the cover to rhythmically open and close, making non-stop banging noise during the whole cooking time.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That makes sense except it seems to prevent a snug seal while doing the job of resting evenly on three feet,(tabs/tripods).
The round dutch ovens do not have the tab feet. Just all the braising bumps.
I wonder if they still put those on the large ovals now.
A shame to have to compensate with more liquids or keep checking it.
I have a small army of LC, some vintage, and all have a good fit.

Just one bad Amazon purchase of a large (giant) rectangle cast iron that does not fit at all.
I have to edge it with foil. AND it is supposed to also be a smoker. No can do that task.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Most interesting.

"7. The leakage - I believe the leakage of the cover has very little effect, almost zero, to the evaporation rate of the food being cooked."

Yes, but how can that beeee?, she wails. Why should we care if a lid fits properly then? Begging the question a bit. How about, whether a pot is covered or not? This is very counter intuitive. Not that I want to be argumentative or anything like that.

So, I guess my experiments have not been well controlled.

On a practical note, how do I then adjust my cooking time and temperature? By observation, volume for volume, the Staub is heavier and thicker than the LC, neither has rattling lids during cooking (and I wonder whether anyone else has had that happen with Staub or LC), and neither has a lid that "locks down" while cooking. I would not know, at all, how to compare the thermal properties of the respective enamels. So, I have to go with trial and error. Sometimes, a boil is reached when I didn't intend for that to happen, and dribbling over the sides has definitely happened on the Staub. I think more use of a simmer plate is in order, although I've not had to do this with the LC. My single, portable, 1800W induction hob is too small to accommodate the large oval Staub or the medium oval LC, for that matter, and I usually make stews on a gas burner, although I have also been known to do them inside a gas oven (this when a cook whom I respect mentioned that she does almost everything in the oven, so I felt I had to give it a try). I shall definitely have to lower the temp when I use the Staub.

"It is interesting for some recipes the time and food wasted in forming dough around a cover to prevent steam from escaping."
I assume this practice originated as a matter of what technology was available at the time. (And it looks cool.) No aluminum foil to fill gaps, no vacuum packers and sous vide circulators, no way to prevent contents from boiling, etc. It always seemed a waste to me, too.

My smallest Staub is round and it does not have the tripod bumps, my larger round one and oval one do. The small Basil one is the oldest of the three. All three have braising bumps. The braising bumps are purported to help concentrate the flavor by returning the liquid to the pot, yet the tripod bulges are supposed to let steam out?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 5:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Yes, but how can that beeee?, she wails. Why should we care if a lid fits properly then? Begging the question a bit. How about, whether a pot is covered or not? This is very counter intuitive. "

A very good question. It all has to do with the concept of relative humidity.

Without cover, water will evaporate into room air because the room air is always less than 100% relative humidity.

But with the cover on, the trapped air under the cover soon reaches 100% relative humidity, and that retards the food from evaporation.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 6:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

KD - None of my LC is old. The oldest is one piece of a set that survived a traumatic fall from the top of the fridge. The rest perished, but even the survivor is only about 10 years old. Full disclosure, I've only bought LC from outlets, and now that there's a LC store in the mall about five minutes away I've been meaning to see if the firsts fit better than seconds. I've got an oval Staub but I'd have to dig deeper than my current bad back will allow to check out the fit.

Here, all slow-cooking braises go in the oven as a matter of course. Cast iron, being a poor heat conductor, stabilizes the oven swings and therefore results in a long simmer that doesn't need to be monitored and adjusted, if in a relatively accurate oven which I happen to have. I might take it upon myself to test liquid retention between a pot "sealed" with dough, a pot with aluminum foil helping the "seal", and just a straight lid. If I'm moved to actually try this I'll report back.

In the meantime, one thought, ATK ran a test, the results of which didn't surprise me much - they found no benefit to braising with the meat half covered in liquid vs simmering with the meat fully covered. From my experience I cuncur, so I say add more liquid up front if you're running dry and you want to use this cookware.

This post was edited by foodonastump on Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 20:57

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Interesting discussion. I have a 38-year collection of LeCreuset. When I cook with it, I tell my family it's alchemy.

Since reading Molly Stevens' cookbook "The Art of Braising" I have adopted her technique of putting an oversized piece of parchment covering the braise with the excess hanging out of the lid. No need for a flour/water, pastry or aluminum foil gasket...

It's genius.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 9:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For some reason, no one has focused on the big bumps all over the main inner surface of the Staub dutch oven. Their purpose is to focus the condensing steam to those points or bumps where they 'rain' back into the pot. That is why Staub can say ' the company states that its lids are specially designed to return cooking liquid back to the pot'. I have an old Wagner Ware dutch oven with a glass lid with dimples. I can easily observe the water dropping back into the pot.

Having said that, I am not certain that the shape or even existence of the bumps is necessary because the top or outside of the lid is cooler than the inside and allows for the condensation. As long as there is a path for the water to return without pouring onto the lip of the pot, that water should return to the pot. This assumes we are talking about a simmer and not a torch. I bring the cool lid up for explanation and also because I don't recall that Le Creuset pots have bumps or dimples.

Unfortunately, none of the above explains why the Le Creuset pots have responded better for you than the Staub but perhaps it might help us spot another as yet undetected difference. Perhaps the Le Creuset lid transfers the room temp. coolness more effectively and is a better condenser.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've run into situations once in a while where for some unknown reason the juices and water will evaporate out of my pot roasts or stews much faster than usual. I've had it happen in both my Staub and Le Creuset pots. I never could figure out why. It seldom happens, but I now check halfway through cooking to see if more water needs to be added. My guess it has something to do with that particular cut of meat, or those particular vegetables. Same situation in my bare cast iron as well.

I truly enjoy all of my various cookware, but I do feel sometimes when slow cooking a chicken or pot roast in the oven for several hours that my Staub produces a more moist chicken or piece of beef. However, I enjoy using my Le Creuset as well, so I use the pot that strikes my fancy that day. Both make good meals.

I found my favorite way to finish cooking stew (once all assembled on the cooktop and ready to start simmering) is in a slow oven (300 degrees F). It has pretty much eliminated the stew burning on the bottom. Still, it doesn't hurt to check it halfway through.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Return your Staub. I have one and there is nothing that would keep the lid lifted off the rim of the pot - either on the lid or the pot rim. I know others with Staub dutch ovens, same thing. And in every post I've ever read about Staub vs LC, the tighter fitting lid of the Staub is usually mentioned.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 10:24AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What to do with fermented green tomaotes?
We have more than a lifetime's worth of fermented green...
Happy Birthday Nancy/wizardnm
A little bird just told me that today is your birthday,...
How to make Crown Roast?
DH has invited 5 coworkers and their spouses to dinner...
Once it was so easy..............................
To find whatever one wanted quickly. Now everything...
Robert Givens
Really yummy vegan broth?
It's that time of year again. Planning for Passover....
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™