Le Creuset vs Cousances Enameled Cast Iron Cookware

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Le Creuset enameled cast iron is generally regarded as the gold standard for French enameled cast iron cookware among cooks who have an enthusiasm for the type.  Le Creuset is indeed the finest enameled cast iron cookware currently in production, in my opinion as well.  There is another brand of  French made enameled cast iron which once rivalled Le Creuset, called Cousances, which is no longer produced under that brand name.


  Cousances enameled cast iron skillets, pans, gratins, and pots were produced in the town of Ville Sur-Cousances and had features which distinguished them from their competitors, Le Creuset, Descoware of Belgium, and the Scandinavian Copco.  Among those features were the base, which was left without enamel (like Copco) but sealed against rust with the final glaze (unlike Copco), and the skillet design which was a French version of the classic American skillet popularized by Griswold and WagnerWare, having two pour spouts, a cast on handle, and a lifting tab on the largest of the handled skillets.  The French refinement of that skillet design included rounded sides for tossing/ sauteeing, and the lift tab being added to smaller skillets for easier pouring.  That refinement made the Cousances 20cm and 26cm skillets a hit with cooks who use the skillet as a saucepan for gravies and glazes, because the gravies could be made right in the skillet in which the chops or chicken was fried, and glazes could be perfected much more easily than in a deeper saucepan, and the finished product was easily poured into other containers thanks to the tabs, spouts and handles. 


  The Cousances enameled pots, roasters and dutch ovens were produced in patterns which were French refinements of the classic  Griswold and WagnerWare versions, with superior enamelling and subtly different handle and lid designs.  Cousances skillets were a clear favorite and the high standard of quality in enamelling was prized by gourmet cooks.


  Those great Cousances designs are now produced by LeCreuset from the original patterns, in the original foundry/factory in Cousances, since Cousances, like Descoware, was acquired by Le Creuset.  The small, round medallion style logo which once read "Cousances, Made in France" around the centimeter size,  now reads "Le Creuset, Made in France".


  Cousances pots, pans, skillets, roasters and dutch ovens are still to be found as used pieces, and are recognizeable by the medallion logo, glazed natural color cast iron bottoms which they share with the Le Creuset current line, but distinguished by a superior enamelling quality which hasn't quite carried on under the Le Creuset name.  Le Creuset has improved the colors of the cookware in the old Cousances patterns, but the enamel quality control isn't up to the same standards maintained by the master enamellers of Ville Sur-Cousance.  The older Cousances pieces I've found have all had absolutely flawless enamel surfaces, which is something I can't say of the Le Creuset pieces of the same patterns I've had.  Still, Le Creuset currently produces cookware which is clearly state of the art in enameled cast iron and deserves its reputation as the standard against which all other brands are measured.


  Watch for vintage pieces of Cousances in auctions here on ebay and note that the patterns are still in production under the Le Creuset name.  If you're fortunate enough to be the winner of any of these vintage pieces, you will be pleased with the high quality and functional designs.  Enjoy cooking with your enameled cast iron, no matter which brand you prefer. 


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