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Will Enameled Cast Iron Survive in the Oven?

 I have a recipe that calls for baking chicken in a heavy iron skillet at 375°F (190°C) for 30 minutes. I don't have one. Can I bake in a Le Creuset skillet instead? I guess my concern is, will the temperature damage the finish?

 You do have to be a bit careful with enamel-covered cast iron cookware, like that from Le Creuset, Lodge, and Staub. It is beautiful and cooks beautifully, but it is essentially heavy cast iron sealed in a layer of glass.

Generally you have to be careful to not shock to cookware with extreme temperature changes. We know of at least one Dutch oven that was put on a gas cooktop at high heat with no food inside, where the enamel began to flake and chip. Sadly, there was nothing that could be done to fix it. What you want to be careful of, is that the heat has somewhere to go – that is, into some food, not just into the pot itself.

According to some manufacturers, low to medium heat settings will provide the best results for most cooking applications, including frying and searing. High heat should only be used to boil water for vegetables or pasta or for reducing stocks and sauces.

The heat of the oven – heated air – is much gentler than the direct flame of a gas burner or the direct contact of an electric or induction burner. So putting your enameled skillet into the oven will not shock it, and 375° is not at all hot for enameled cookware. Cookware that uses phenolic resin knobs and handles are oven safe to 375°F to 400 °F (205°C) – read the literature that came with the cookware to be sure – while those with cast iron or stainless steel knobs or handles may be used at any oven temperature.

According to a marketing specialist from French cookware manufacturer Staub, one of the greatest dangers to enameled cast iron cookware is inadvertently banging it into something and causing the enamel to chip. Handle them carefully, treat them well, don't set them on top of an open flame, and many decades from now your grandchildren should be fighting over who gets which pieces of your beautiful enameled cookware.

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