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HELP!!! What to buy???!!!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am a home cook looking for a good QUALITY set or items to buy.  I don't want anything teflon coated.  I had a Paula Deen cookware set from walmart that was CRAP.  I used to have a Townecraft set that I loved  the only down side to it was the weight sometimes hurt my wrists and it was horrible when cooking eggs and pancakes.  Other than that it was an awesome set (that my ex-husband has now).  I am considering a few different options: Surgical stainless steel like townecraft, hard anodized, stainless steel (specifically the Giadia de Laurentis or Emiril Legassi lines).  I really don't know which way to turn.  I just know I don't want crap and I want pieces that will be large and deep.  An all purpose type pan, a large stock pot and a pan suitable for cooking pancakes, crepes and eggs.  It has to be something free of the health concerns that come with teflon.  Any advice that can help me decide....I don't really know what I am comparing.  Im looking for 3-4 good quality peices.

 

post #2 of 9

Stainless tri-ply clad pans, look at All-Clad, Calphalon, Tramontina. Tramontina is a surprisingly good buy in my opinion and tests well in the Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen tests. All-Clad usually wins, but the Tramontina is usually close. Most any clad pan you buy should be induction compatible but I'd make sure of it as it's a handy cooking method and the wave of electric cooking in the future. Worth having your pans be compatible with, again IMHO.

 

For the pancakes/crepes and fried eggs, look at cast iron or carbon steel pans. I've got plenty of cast iron I use for those tasks. Lodge is has a good consistent casting quality for cast iron. Other brands are good too, like Camp Chef. Once you leave those two brands of cast iron, I think you should only buy it if you can inspect the casting quality first in-person.

 

As to carbon steel, I only own that in woks which is not the right shape or thickness for what you're looking for. There are some stand-by brands in this too. Two french brands whose name escapes me and Vollrath are the commonly recommended brands.

 

For an omelet or a scrambled egg, I still prefer the teflon personally and the temps are low enough for safe cooking imho. But that's mostly what I use my teflon for is egg dishes.

 

Tramontina has a good 10 piece  clad set that's well thought out you might consider. Seems to only be available on-line through Walmart though. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-10-Piece-18-10-Stainless-Steel-TriPly-Clad-Cookware-Set/11072505

post #3 of 9

I, too, am looking for a good stainless steel cookware set. I have been using Farberware 18/10 ss for 40 years. I'm on my second set which is 20 years old..The only problem I find is that the metal develops  a bluish cast to it, on the inside bottom, after boiling anything in it. When I make rice, it develops a whitish film which is hard to get out, even with  the dishwasher.

Quite by accident, I found a novel way of removing the stain. I put ketchup in the bottom of the pot and heat it. Within a few minutes, I rinse the pot and wash it as usual with a little detergent. It looks as shiny as new. Aside from the staining, I love the Farberware.

Has anyone out there experienced this with their stainless steel cookware? If so, how do you remove the stains?

post #4 of 9

Kitri and Olfashionedcook, can I ask why you are looking at sets?

 

For most kitchens, sets do not make sense. They usually have pieces that you'll never use, and lack pieces that are essential. It is far, far better to cherry pick your needs from open stock. That way you get exactly what you need. And, as often is the case, one brand provides the ideal skillet, while another brand is your idea of perfect for a saucepan.

 

You also want to check warranties carefully; not only what is offered but how well the manufacturer stands behind it's warranty. F'rinstance, while All Clad's warranty, on paper, is superlative, the company does not, in my experience, stand behind its products. As a result, I won't have All Clad in my kitchen.

 

And, as Phil points out, different materials serve better than others for particular tasks, and buying sets denies you that option.

 

Expanding on his carbon steel comments: Carbon steel and "black steel" provides all the benefits of cast iron, at about 2/3 the weight. And the handle designs are more useful for most people. They do require the same sort of curing and maintanance as cast iron, though. And, the big downside, is that they're more expensive. Even so, I love the material, and have a couple of woks and four skillets made of it.

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 9

If you like cast iron, you could also look at old "vintage" Griswold and Wagner frying pans.  You will find them on e-bay and antique shops, as well as the sporadic yard sale.  A finer and lighter casting than Lodge.  The interiors are also machined and much smoother than Lodge which is not machined.  While some pans are "collectible" and thus pricey, many are are not and can be quite reasonable in comparison to new cookware.  If you don't know anything about cast iron, you might want to do a bit of research on the web first before you jump in.  You do want pans with no cracks and which have very flat bottoms.  Many used pans will be sold already completely cleaned and ready for seasoning.  I use these in varying sizes, as well as one non-stick pan (which I replace every couple years since they are in essence disposable an none of them, regardless of price, really maintain their non-stick attributes longer than about 3 years).  Cast iron pans are great going from stove top to oven.  Find a compatible lid at a restaurant supply house.


Edited by pohaku - 12/31/11 at 9:16am
post #6 of 9

Why don't you try going to a restaurant supply store in your area.  Don't try to get matching pots and pans,or sets , because real good rest. pans don't match but they will last you 20 years and are easier to maintain then the other junk(paula dean etc. You are paying for a name not quality). Of all the retail ones available I favor All-clad. I have 1 or 2.  My favorites though are my 1950 vintage Wearever Aluminum 2 and 3 qt saucepans and my 16 inch saute pan also Wearever. They don't make them like this anymore. I use a non stick 9 or 10 inch pan  teflon type for  eggs and throw it out about aevery 2-3 years. PS most of my knives are  German .carbon steel and from the 60s.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #7 of 9

If you know exactly what you want or are adding to a pre-existing set it's good advice to buy separates -- but you don't and you aren't so it probably isn't.  If you're buying an entire set, you can save a lot buying most of it as a set -- and adding to it as needed.  One of the nice things about a 7+ piece set is that they come with everything you need to get you started, including lids.  Don't forget lids.

 

Buying separates costs a fortune -- and having the best single choice of everything for your "core set" of three or four pans and two or three skillets is dumb.  Everyone needs a few of the same sizes in their home set, you might as well buy them in a single box and reap the savings.  At a certain level of quality they all cook pretty much the same.

 

You don't need the very best cookware to be a good cook, but it helps a lot if it exceeds a minimal threshold of quality in terms of responsiveness, holding the heat, spreading it evenly and so on.  You already seem to have absorbed the lesson that too cheap is not good.  So, enough said on the subject.

 

Stainless pots and sauce pans are all well and good.  But stainless skillets are another matter.  You absolutely want a stainless lining (or something else non-reactive like enamel-over-cast-iron) for your "core set," but stainless multi-ply is not the best choice for anything which wants a slippery pan (like eggs and pancackes), for searing and developing fond (steaks, etc.), or for holding the heat (frying chicken).  Eventually you'll probably add pieces.  How soon "eventually" looks like it will come can help determine whether you go for a really huge set now, or keep it down with the idea of quickly adding to it later.

 

In addition to the stainless lined skillets of our core set we have three carbon steel "Mineral" skillets and two cast iron skillets.  A lot of pans, but they all get used.

 

The first thing you should add -- probably right from jump street if you don't already have one -- is a decent quality, stainless "mutli-pot" set (aka spaghetti/stock pot with two steamer inserts).  You don't need multi-ply for stock pots -- a decent sandwich bottom is good enough.  Why?  Because with a lot of liquid in the pot, the liquid itself will evenly spread the heat so "hot spots" are irrelevant.

 

Look for something which feels comfortable in the hand and isn't too heavy to lift and handle.  Women especially tend to appreciate "helper handles" on the larger pieces.  The uber quality sets often run quite heavy.  We replaced our core set with Mauviel M'Heritage 250 (stainless lined copper) which is extremely heavy.  Not only are the large pans on the ragged edge of my ability to handle one handed, but they take a long time to preheat -- even though they're copper.  My wife works around the weight, but -- even though I'm strong enough -- it took me a long while to get used to it. 

 

Speaking of copper... Don't waste your money on copper as one of the metal layers in a multi-ply sandwich.  It really doesn't make a difference in performance.  If you want copper pans you would have said so, but for the benefit of others -- don't buy it unless you're buying it for its beauty.  They're a lot of extra bucks for no extra bang worth mentioning.

 

Multi-ply, whether tri-ply or more layers, is very desirable.  Stick with it for your reasonably sized pieces. 

 

SLT is currently having a huge sale on its own line of multi-ply.  They're good pieces -- but by no means the best or the most heavy duty.  Calphalpon and Tramontina were already mentioned as two other budget lines. 

 

Stepping up in class, I like Vollrath's tri-ply Tribute line quite a bit; but they were too industrial and ugly for my wife.  We have a few pieces of the old All-Clad line (which I believe All-Clad may be in the process of discontinuing in favor of it's new "Tri-Ply") and they're very good -- they also happen to be tri-ply; stainless, over aluminum, over stainless.  Vollrath and "old" All-Clad are my top choices for multi-ply stainless and, as it happens, both are made in the USA.

 

There's a lot of quality out there from Europe, including Paderno, ScanPan, Sitram, Matfer-Bourgeat, Mauviel, Demeyer, and more.  Look around, find something which appeals, and if you have questions run them by us here.  If it's a scam (like "waterless cookware," vastly overpriced, or just doesn't have a good reputation (like La Creuset stainless) someone here will let you know. 

 

Bed Bath and Beyond is a good place to buy from, because of their customer service and generous return policies.  SLT and WS (Williams Sonoma) offer some significant sales on top line cookware at this time of the year -- if you want to go high-end.  Give January a couple of weeks and take a look at places like Tuesday Morning, too.   Amazon is obviously very good.  You might try poking around at the online "Knife Merchant" shop.  He has a great selection and very fair pricing. 

 

A few of the other specialty cooking and professional cooking online sites offer good prices, but I haven't used any nor done enough research to talk about them.  Other people here might be able to help; and just Googling and comparing prices (and return policies) should tell you enough.

 

FWIW, we replaced nearly all of our cookware over the past year buying just about all of the new stuff at SLT.  Great service, and their sale prices are the same as everyone else's.  I should add that I get a professional discount there.

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

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post #8 of 9

BDL  I have found Sonoma overpriced. A store we have here owned by Marshalls is great it's called  Home Goods. I have found Calaphon here for 1/2  the price of anyone else even BB&B which is also good as you stated. The bottom or side of pan may have a blemish(not dent) but who cares it works and will get many more blemishes over the years.. HEALTHY NEW YEAR   edb

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Olfashionedcook View Post

I, too, am looking for a good stainless steel cookware set. I have been using Farberware 18/10 ss for 40 years. I'm on my second set which is 20 years old..The only problem I find is that the metal develops  a bluish cast to it, on the inside bottom, after boiling anything in it. When I make rice, it develops a whitish film which is hard to get out, even with  the dishwasher.
Quite by accident, I found a novel way of removing the stain. I put ketchup in the bottom of the pot and heat it. Within a few minutes, I rinse the pot and wash it as usual with a little detergent. It looks as shiny as new. Aside from the staining, I love the Farberware.
Has anyone out there experienced this with their stainless steel cookware? If so, how do you remove the stains?
Please pardon my reposting of this entire entry. Mistake.
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