The braiser/grill pan combo is a potential space saver, but how well does it perform and how easy is it to use?
Published Oct. 29, 2020.
When we tested braisers, the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 3.5-Quart Round Braiser aced all our tests. The pan’s spacious handles allowed us to securely pick it up and move it into and out of the oven, and the sizable stainless-steel knob on its lid was easy to grasp. This pan browned food beautifully and evenly and had a roomy cooking surface that accommodated every recipe we tried in it.
Recently, we noticed a related pan, the Le Creuset Braiser with Grill Pan Lid—a 3.5-quart braiser that replaces the traditional domed lid and stainless-steel knob with a multifunctional flat lid with a looped handle on either side and raised ridges on the underside. To use the lid as a grill pan, you flip it over and place it right on the burner.
We were curious: Was this pan just as good as our favorite braiser but with the bonus of a built-in grill pan? To test the pan’s braising capabilities, we browned meatballs and made Mediterranean Braised Green Beans with Mint and Feta Cheese and Braised Beef Short Ribs. To test the grill pan, we used it to make burgers and Salami, Capicola, and Provolone Panini (pressing the sandwiches with the pan’s base). We washed the pan and its lid by hand after every test. To assess durability, we whacked the pan around the rim with a metal spoon 50 times and slammed the lid down onto the pan 25 times, checking for cracks or chips after each test.
The good news? The pan was the same size and had the same browning capabilities as our top-rated braiser. The lid performed admirably as a grill pan, too. It produced crisp, distinct char marks on both the burgers and the panini, and its 10-inch cooking surface accommodated four burgers or two large sandwiches. It was also heavy enough that it didn’t scoot around when we cooked on it or flipped burgers or sandwiches, and it was easy to clean, though it did require some extra attention due to its ridges. Neither the base nor the lid dented or chipped during our durability tests.
The bad news? The braiser/grill pan combo wasn’t as easy to use as our favorite braiser or our winning grill pan. The pan’s looped handles were smaller than our top-rated braiser’s by more than an inch, so it was harder to securely pick up, especially when we were wearing bulky oven mitts. The grill pan lid proved to be challenging, too. Instead of an easy-to-grab central knob, the lid had two handles on either side of it. The two sets of handles (the pan's and the lid's) got in the way of one another. And when we were using the pan as a braiser and the lid was hot—such as after a stint in the oven–the lid’s handles were harder to hold than a knob. Even when cool, the l...
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