Let us introduce you to The Queen of the Kitchen – Le Creuset’s Enameled Cast Iron Casserole.
She is iconic – and for good reason. Not only curvaceous, with beautiful lines, but strong and able to stand up to the rigours of any kitchen. She ages beautifully, and makes a splendid heirloom.
In 1925, two industrialists joined forces – one, a specialist in enameling; the other, an expert in casting. Jointly they ‘cracked the code’ to enameling cast iron and brought colour to the kitchen in the form of Le Creuset (‘the crucible’).
The Le Creuset signature colour, Volcanic (orange), was used for the first piece. This was to imitate the intense orange hue of molten cast iron in a crucible (“creuset” in French).
Le Creuset now comes in a myrid of colours, shapes and sizes, each uniquely fulfilling a role in the kitchen, but also providing versatility and the almighty combination of form and function. There’s a reason Elizabeth David, Julia Child and even Marilyn Monroe were fans.
From start to finish, each piece of Le Creuset is touched by no less than 15 pairs of skilled hands, and can take 10 hours to make. Each piece also has a no-flaw policy and the factory melts down imperfect pieces, recycling the iron to be resurrected as a new, flawless pot or pan.
One of our favorite recipes to make in the Le Creuset Cast Iron Casserole is Chicken Forestiere, an easy but luxurious combination of Chicken Thighs, dried Forest Mushrooms (Garniture Forestiere), Cognac and Double Cream. This recipe takes full advantage of the gentle, even heat that high-quality enameled cast iron produces.
METHOD for Chicken Forestiere in the Le Creuset Cast Iron Casserole
- Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 75ml of boiling water. Let them soak for 20 minutes. Turn your Le Creuset Cast Iron Casserole onto medium-low to begin heating. This will take a few minutes, but provide you with gentle, radiant heat throughout cooking.
- Meanwhile, trim the chicken thighs of excess skin and if needed. Salt the skin side and then melt the butter in your casserole. Once foaming, gently add each chicken thigh with the skin facing down. Try to leave 1-2cm of space between each thigh. Season the underside of the thighs generously with salt and pepper and then cook until each side is well browned and caramelised.
- Pour all of the fat from the pan except 1 TBSP. Reserve this fat for sautéing the mushrooms. Heat the fat that remains in the pan and sauté the onions until soft and golden. Deglaze the pan with the alcohol and then using a wooden spoon, scrape the ‘fond’ aka delicious caramelised bits off of the bottom of the pan to dislodge all the flavour.
- Add the carrots, celery, stock and chicken jus or demi-glace, plus the wild mushrooms and their soaking liquor. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, covering and cooking for 10 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pan, placing it skin-side up. Cover and cook gently for 20 minutes. The self-basting lid of the casserole will keep the chicken juicy and tender.
- Remove the lid, stir in the cream and return to a simmer again, cooking for another 10 minutes with the lid off to reduce the sauce.
- Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat 1 TBSP of the reserved chicken fat mixture and quickly sauté the mushrooms until they are golden brown. Resist crowding the pan and do not salt the mushrooms until after cooking. Toss the mushrooms in with the chicken and stir gently to combine. Reduce the sauce until it can coat the back of a spoon.
- Taste for seasoning, keeping in mind the reduced stock and jus will add their own salt. Scatter on the parsley and serve from the gorgeous casserole in which it was cooked.