Cons: Lid sold separately; more like a piece of furniture than cookware
The Bottom Line: An investment, but something that will probably end up being as indispensable as anything else in a kitchen. Truly made with the food in mind, and frighteningly versatile.
Those of you stocking a kitchen for the first time may be well-advised to forgo the cheap boxed pot & pan sets, IKEA 'Start Box No 1,' and other such tawdry items, and blow the wad on a Le Creuset non-stick monster pan. Mine has never found its own place in the kitchen; it just stays on top of the range. This now makes perfect sense, given the frequency of use, and my disinclination to regularly move the thing. It is heavy.
As with all good cookware. I have inadvertently put my father, a reknowned omelette man, to shame with his amateur-level yet high-end Cuisinart pan. The Le Creuset could keep an even temperature all across the bottom even when heated with a Zippo.
Non-stick cookery has always seemed a bit of -- well, it's cheating. It's the microwave equivalent of stovetop cookery, McSauteing, not the domain of professionals but for pikers who can't season a pan.
My just-you-try-breaking-in-Mister-Burglar-guy Le Creuset has relieved me of most of this snobbery. A -- sob! -- ten year warranty on the coating! A quick seasoning some months ago has left it need of only a good rinse after each use. Things turn out of the pan with the same even cook they'd have recieved from untreated cast iron, but they just slide out. Honestly. I use nary a dollop of oil for omelettes nor pancakes.
'But this is supposed to be a saute pan, not a skillet...' Oh, do shush. It is all things to all men. I got one of the larger sizes, and I can throw in the leeks, onions, and garlic, leave them on a slow saute, and come back to find enough room to add some sort of broth. It's even roomy enough to shove the veg to the side and create a little roux in the middle for cream-of-whatever. Omelettes nothing! It also makes a mean curry, a kindly dhal, a reassuring frittata.
When I get around to buying the sold-separately lid, I plan on using it as something resembling a slow cooker for carmelizing onions and the like. I can not overstate the versatility of this costly, weighty bit of work.
Caveat: buy a heat-proof wood/plastic spatula -- Le Creuset's own are highly praised -- rather than sending your $25 Henckels to do the job. The edge of the pan, where Silverstone turns to enamel, is just, but just, abrasive enough to scratch. The $25 Henckels plastic and metal spatula went back to the store anyway; the fool thing melted while I was making pancakes. On the "4" setting on the burner. The instruction manual (a useful bit of what-not, devoid of "Do not use while sleeping"-style nonsense) made the spurious-sounding claim that there would probably never be a need to have it on high heat. True. I don't think I've gone past six, which is almost more than is needed to bring things to a boil. Your sauce will reduce -- trust me.
The obvious bonus of this even-heating wonder is that it eliminates all fuss once you've cooked something right for the first time: no matter what you're doing with your eggs, the same stove setting will always work. Omeletteers take note, though: buying the large model is a good way to set yourself up for monster three-egg-plus omelettes, as well as a good way to set yourself up for further financial ruin by buying a more modestly sized one.
Choose your colour carefully. Le Creuset's 'flame' is no longer in the realm of 'avocado' and 'harvest gold' appliances but something of a classic, albeit a rather gaudy one. I had lust in my heart for the cobalt blue, but went with white, which seemed more fitting. Sort of like how art gallery walls will never be painted blue. The sort of food you can turn out in a sizable Le Creuset non-stick just doesn't call for distraction. Trivial concern: I am a bit too lazy to have a scrub at the slight browning on the bottom of the pan, and am hoping it doesn't end up being permanent.
My last Le Creuset saute pan (flame! yuk!) had a wooden handle; they're now going with heat-proof plastic. Given the life span of Le Creuseterie and wood, plastic is, for once, a plus. The end of the handle is metal and suitable for hanging, if you have a concrete kitchen that lends itself to that sort of arrangement.
Well recommended for kitchen moron and foodie alike; I have yet to turn out anything inedible from this, and that includes the pancakes that melted the spatula. (Which were made from a Victorian-era recipe calling for, and missing, some odd ingredients. Bannock and pemmican would probably be edible if made in this pan.)