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Please advise new cook re cookware purchases

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi, I am new to cooking and we just bought a house that already has two Dacor convection ovens installed in the wall. And there is a cooktop in the middle of the granite counter.

I need to stock my kitchen and I have a generous budget for cookware, so if you think that All-clad is worth it, don't hold back. We are a family of three, so I don't need the giant vat sizes, I will only be cooking for the three of us.

But mainly I am scared about what type of cookware to use in the convection oven. I tried doing web searches but the only tips that I saw where to use shiny surfaces and not dark cookware surfaces. And what about enameled cast iron?

Please help me stock my kitchen with cookware appropriate for a convection oven and a cooktop for a small family of three.

I appreciate you and any input you will give me.

post #2 of 8
The deep saute pan is IMO the best pan All Clad has ever made. The saute pans are worth the money too. It's nice to have heavy sides in addition to heavy bottoms. I don't know if it's totally worth the money to get the medium size straight sized pans just for boiling stuff.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Kuan. I appreciate your tip. Hugs.
post #4 of 8
The reason people advise against dark bakeware is that it helps foods cook (and brown) faster -- but you've already got that if you use the convection function, so it would be kind of overkill and you'd be more like to burn stuff. :cry:

Enameled cast iron is great for all cooking -- holds heat for even cooking, relatively easy to clean (almost as easy as nonstick), still allows you brown foods evenly (better than nonstick). It would be fine in your ovens. On the downside, it is heavy and if you drop it, you can do serious damage to whatever you drop it on, as well as crack the enamel and maybe even the cast iron.

I'm also a big fan of All Clad, but there are many pots out there that are similar but with slightly different features you might prefer. Read through the threads here and you'll find lots of opinions. :D If you have the chance, go to a good cookware store and feel what the pots and pans are like. Within the All Clad types, see which handles are more comfortable to you. (That's the one gripe I have about some of AC.) If your cooktop is induction, you'll need to get pans with a stainless-steel exterior.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you, Suzanne. That was a big help to me.
post #6 of 8
All Clad makes very good cookware. They make six lines, and you can't go wrong with any of them. Emerilware is the budget line, and while it's good value isn't as well made as the others. The two lines using copper are extremely pricey; and unfortunately there's no real performance benefit. The other three represent good performance for the luxury dollar. They are Master Chef 2, Stainless and LTD. Their performance is essentially comparable.

Two other lines comparable to the recommended All-Clad are Calphalon "Tri-Ply" and "Gourmet Standard." All three are more or less fungible.

Another line which I like and you probably won't is Vollrath Tribute. This is multi-ply stainless oriented towards the professional kitchen.

You're asking about cookware "sets." The primary advantage to buying this way, as opposed to open stock, is picking up a few lids to go with some very common sizes. Otherwise, there's no value. I suggest getting a basic set and buying open stock as you go without regard to keeping the same brand.

You might find it works to your advantage to have a few skillets, casseroles, and other shapes made of materials other than stainless.

There is really no drawback to dark colored cookware in a convection oven. When you use the convection fans, you'll have to adjust times and temperatures no matter what cookware you're using. Dark cookware promotes crust, it's true; but so does glass.

Enamel over cast iron is good stuff -- depending on the quality of the particular pan. It's not good for everything, and has some issues regarding weight, staining and chipping. But it does do somethings very well indeed. Nice to have as a rondeau or oval casserole.

If you fry much chicken (and why do I doubt you do?), or do other pan frying you may want a couple of pieces of cast iron. I favor plain carbon steel skillets for most purposes, but like cast iron and aluminum it's reactive. For that reason, most cooks want a few stainless as well. In any case, you might not like care involved in maintaining cast iron or carbon steel.

Hard anodized aluminum seems to have outlived its welcome for residential cookware except as the exterior metal in multi-ply or non-stick pans. However, if you loved old Calphalon, Lincoln-Wearever (another commercial manufacturer) makes a line that's pretty much the same thing.

Your cooking style, repertoire and entertaining needs should dictate the shapes and sizes you buy. For instance, do you need a big, carbon-steel wok? Don't hurry. Start basic and add as you go. The more you learn about cooking, the better able you'll be to choose cookware that suits you.

Good luck,
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Dear BDL,

thank you so very much for taking the time to type out such thoughtful advise. Thank you for helping me and for your generosity.
post #8 of 8
buy calphalon and all-clad at marshalls and tjmaxx......you have to "hunt" through the stainless, but there will be a few there...at REAL good prices....just remember to recognize the "handles" of the pots....;)
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