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Cast iron or 3 ply stainless steel for sauces

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I'm looking at a 20cm pan that's ideally suited for controlled simmering of sauces.

I have my eyes on 2 le creuset pans. One is a cast iron enamelled pan, the other is one of their 3 ply stainless steel pans with the core that goes all the way around the pan and up to the rim.

Would you always opt for the cast iron pan?
post #2 of 10
Depends on the stove. The cast iron will mitigate fluctuations in the heat better than the stainless steel. My stove maintains constant heat very well, so I prefer the convenience of stainless steel.
post #3 of 10
Andy. Enamel after a certain time chips and peels. Stainless steel last longer and looks good BUT has very inconsistent heat conduction and forms hot spots in the pot. It requires more standing there and stirring your product and cooking at lower flame. In my opinion get yourself a good heavy Aluminum pan. Almost everyone on this site is looks and brand name happy. Don't wast your $$$.:chef:
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post #4 of 10
Actually, I wouldn't opt for either cast iron or aluminum for sauce making; particularly if white sauces are in the offing.

Both of them are reactive, and can effect the final color (and sometimes taste) or the sauce. For instance, in aluminum, white sauces tend to turn grayish. And any sauce that includes acid (i.e., tomato) is definately a no-no in either of them.

In this case I'd opt for the stainless, and monitor the sauce as it cooks. Nothing wrong with stirring to assure even heating, IMO.
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 #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hehe - you guys are messing with my head - the plan was for you guys to narrow my choices down, not throw an extra one in. :D

While I bear in mind the caveats about reactive materials and aluminium may not ultimately be my final choice, it's certainly cheap to the point where it seems silly not to give it a go, if only to try it as a comparison material.

I don't have any pre-knowledge of decent aluminium pan manufacturers, is a brand called Meyer Commercialware a known quantity?
post #6 of 10
Andy I have been cooking in alum in many kitchens over the years . I have never had a complaint from a patron that it taste like aluminum. Maybe it does have some sought of reaction but I only use it to cook in , not to store in .For that I use Stainless steel inserts. I can tell you that I have Wear-ever saucepans that I use home that are over 40 years old, and they are like brand new/ I tend to favor wear-ever and Vollrath because I have used them a lot. Last month in Consumers Reports they had a review on pots and pans for the home "Emerils "got good reviews overall but they are teflon treated. Not treated Calaphon got good reviews also. One thing I can tell you is the pot does not make the chef a good cook.:)
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post #7 of 10
Why dont you check out Stove guss. I think they're Italian?? They're an aluminium alloy. Black. Extremely non stick. They look like cast iron, but very light. Heavy based. I love mine. They're fabulous for sauces and they clean so easy.
They're expensive. But if like me you have a regular continental market, they may be there and they sell seconds much cheaper. The joy of them is, that you can scratch the bejezzuz out of them and they stay non stick.
I only have the large pans, and i'm always looking for them at the markets to buy smaller ones for the cookery school, but havnt seen them for ages.
2nd joy is, if you've ordered before, you get a discount...keep your receipt :)

Ps IMHO le creuset is a bonny looking pan, But I dont like working with it. Washing up's a bu**er too.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that extra background info Ed, appreciated as always. I hear you about pans not making the cook.

Hi bughut,

I'll remember that 'Stove Guss' name in case I ever come across them, thanks. :)

I have one of le creuset's enamelled casserole pans which is a great workhorse for me - from braising to no-knead bread, at my level of cooking at least I have no complaints so far - I just can't get excited about owning one as a saucepan unless it's clearly the best technical choice.

All things being equal I would probably opt for the 3 ply stainless steel with the aluminium core.

That said, I've got an uncoated aluminium pan being delivered. I can't quite get warm and fuzzy about the thought of owning aluminium saucepans, but for the price I have to see how it plays out - I'm open to being pleasantly surprised.

There are a few coated aluminium versions around, but the ones I've noticed most on TV are the Berndes brand and they seem to lose their coating (around the rim at least) - it's made me a little unsure about going the non-stick route and I'm not sure I should need really need that kind of finish for this type of use.

Anyway - I'll see how I go with this, and move forward from here - thanks everyone for the guidance.
post #9 of 10
Multi-ply with a stainless core is probably the most practical. In fact, the best option for most home cooks is to build a core set of multi-ply then add specialty pans as needed. I have my doubts about how valuable it is to have the conductive core come all the way up the sides on sauce pans, but that seems to be the way it's done with the really good pans.

The enamel over cast pans are very nice new, but they do stain and scratch. In terms of even, low, and/or controlled heating they're quite a bit better than cheap stainless or non-stick aluminum but not much or an improvement over good multi-ply or heavy duty aluminum.

I mostly use old fashioned Calphalon dark anodized (not non-stick!), and some plain ol' restaurant grade non-anodized aluminum as well. Unfortunately, old Calphalon isn't available anymore but there are a few well made clones and you seem interested in (at least) one of them. While it's never bothered me, some people find the dark interiors make judging colors difficult. Judging the color of rouxs, reductions, browned aromatics, and wine sauces is critical.

Plain aluminum is very common in restaurant kitchens, or it used to be. It's popularity is mostly a product of its cost -- it's not practical as an all around sauce pan because of its reactivity to "acids" like vinegar, tomato, and wines.

Were I buying new pans today, I'd buy the Vollrath commercial multi-ply -- especially sauce pans. There are less expensive and better looking options, but you just can't beat Vollrath when it comes to quality, utility and abuse resistance.

Hope this helps,
BDL
post #10 of 10

Stainless steel vs cast iron

Stainless steel are mostly preferred by me because it has good heat absorbing capability.
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