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Cookware advice

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I know this gets asked a lot - I need new cookware and am trying to decide what to buy. Apart from "Don't buy a set", there seems to be little consensus. My main decisions a this point are:

Stainless clad vs. Anodized aluminum?
Nonstick or regular?

I had ruled out stainless w/disc bottom, but the editors at Cooks Illustrated ran an article in which they said they actually like it for skillets, that they couldn't justify the extra money for clad in that category. They didn't mention saucepans.

Most people have said "Don't buy nonstick", except for one or two inexpensive skillets or saute pans, because the coating doesn't last , even in the high-end lines. However, the CI editors also said they prefer nonstick in a saucepan. As they usually seem to know what they are talking about - now I don't know what to do.

Among people who prefer clad, All Clad, of course, is the favorite, although it's out of my price range. A number of people have recommended the Tramontina and Kenmore clad lines. Anyone have any experience?

I'd be grateful for suggestions. Thanks.
post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 
Also - any preference re: glass vs. metal lids?
post #3 of 11
Stainless steel is my general preference. anodized aluminum isn't worth it. Wears quickly and is overpriced for it's performance.

I don't think paying for clad is worth it so most of mine are impact bonded bases. I do have a clad 12" pan from Calphalon I like but I got a good deal.

Many praise clad cookware for bringing the heating core up the sides of the pan even. I think that's a poor idea. I want the heat on the bottom of the pan evenly so it cooks where I have things in contact with the base. For sauces, heating on the sides of the pan just cause the sauce to evaporate and stick there, or browned bits from the saute burn there before you get around to deglazing. But that's just my opinion.

I have a fair amount of Tramontina that has performed excellently and is inexpensive. It shows no signs of wearing out or warping of the bases.

I don't think a non-stick saucepan has any particular use.

As to lids, metal will take more abuse and are more versatile. Glass lids lose their temper if you use them in the oven lots.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I'm finding that most people seem to prefer stainless - but the occasional user who prefers anodized really loves it.

I can see that a bonded base would be just as useful as clad in a skillet or saute pan, but I would imagine clad would provide faster, more even heating in a sauce pan, no? I'm also under the impression that it can work as effectively as a pot with a bonded base, without needing to be as heavy?
post #5 of 11
Faster? Probably not. You have to heat more metal up and you increase the radiation surface of the heating core, a good chunk of which is away from the food up the sides of the pan.

And I doubt the evenness is actually any better too. It seems like a gimmick to me.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 11
I have both bonded bottom and fully clad pieces; both pans and pots, and it seems to me that any theoretical differences don't really show up on a day-to-day basis.

On some bonded bottom pots there does seem to be a heating problem, in that the edge of the disc, where it runs out against the base metal, creates hot spots to the point where a sauce or other liquid that isn't even simmering in the center is boiling along that edgeline.

I have only one Tramontina piece---a skillet. It's as good as any other fully clad piece in my kitchen.

I wouldn't worry about not being able to afford All-Clad. In my experience their customer service is so bad that it isn't worth owning in the first place. Is it good? Likely so, if you believe all the proponents. Is it worth the premium? Not hardly. And I don't deal with companies who don't back their product lines. Not after getting burned. And not when there are so many competitiors offering great choices.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've read this repeatedly - a lot of people complain about All-Clad's customer service.
post #8 of 11
I prefer stainless for a few things
non stick for others

As much as I would like a nice line of pots and pans, I got what I need,

3 different sized non stick sautee pans, mostly for omlettes and the like
Large 4 or 5 gallon stock pot
1 stainless sauce pot
a few non stick pots.

Lids vary but a sheet pan seems to work if I cant find one.
post #9 of 11
I like a combo of types, stainless steel, cast iron, and non-stick. I like the non-stick skillets for eggs and small sauce pans for cheese sauces. Stainless for meats and veggies (love the fond for added flavor) as well as acidic sauces and foods. And finally cast iron (well seasoned) for everything (except boiling water). Also I have to have a couple of stock pots.
post #10 of 11
Beware of aluminum, even anodized aluminum, it will still warp under high heat, and if the handles are riveted on, it's still a mechanical connection and prone to failing.

I too don't see any advantages of a non-stick saucepan, don't like non-stick for anything but eggs, becasue I can't see if the fond, the carmelized meat juices, are burning or not.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Yeah, most people are telling me to buy SS. At Cook's Illustrated, a number of people have recommended two clad sets: Tramontina and Kenmore. The Kenmore, especially, is a deal - 8 pcs. for $99 - although there are no extra pieces. I'll probably get it.
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